Rally-Car Rivalry: 2011 Subaru WRX vs 2010 Mitsubishi Ralliart

August 15th, 2009

With an editorial staff, split across the country and even in Australia, we’re often hard-pressed to do the sorts of comparison tests that are very helpful in sorting out rival models.

But sometimes the stars align just right, as they recently did when I returned on a flight speed of driving the new 2011 Subaru Impreza WRX, and jumped right into a 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart Sportback. To help you compare and cross-shop the two, here are some notes on these two arch-rivals:

First impressions can deceive

In both our first ride of the 2010 Ralliart Sportback last year, we noted that the road noise can be a problem. So I had expected it to be harder inside and it turned out differently. Yes, the Ralliart is a bit louder than the WRX, but not much.

The excellent Recaros in the Sportback Ralliart 2010 were firm and supportive, the packaging around the back, but this long driver integrated headrest was too low and could not be adjusted.

At first sight there is a clear power-to-weight deficit in the Ralliart, compared to the WRX, but the truth is, surprisingly, the two are fairly evenly matched. The Ralliart weighs about 200 pounds more still makes about 20 less horsepower and low-rev torque is lacking in much the same way that from a standing start, the Ralliart does not feel slow and not much else than an on-a-budget small car .

Once the speed increases and you get past 10 or 15 mph in first gear, which is somewhat slow forgotten feeling is if you double clutch gearbox shifts expert and the turbo boost to forgive up past 80, 90 mph and beyond. One of the keys why the Ralliart feels so perky that it 9 more foot pounds of peak torque at 3,000 rpm makes-1, 000 less than the Subaru. So much for the movement.

Ralliart, the transmission asset

Thanks to the Twin Clutch Sportronic transmission, shifts are fast and direct, with only a slight shift to insert the second or third if you take out cautiously. What’s more, if you drive faster the Ralliart, you sound column (no steering wheel) mounted shift paddles appreciate.

With the 2011 Subaru WRX, a five-speed gearbox is still the way of shifting, and the throws are a bit long and difficult. Subaru officials told us that there are no plans for an automatic transmission in the WRX anytime soon. There are no options that would fit the automaker’s unique boxer engine layout, and the company had just invested in our own design and training, lack the means to design a new automatic that would be the WRX STi, or the take power and torque.

While the first Sportback Ralliart we drove, last year, was equipped with all-season tires that really affect the driving experience, only with more road noise and less grip, this test car was equipped with the right Yokohama Advan summer performance tires, they a huge difference and felt a lot more grip and progressive muscle.

In both cases, we kept going on the Ralliart. Like the more expensive Evolution, the Ralliart is quick, direct steering feel that’s about the best IT gets a new vehicle.

Remarkably close in size, shape, and purpose … but different in personality

By studying the specifications of both hatchback models, it is remarkable how close they are. Both are about 180 centimeters long with a wheelbase of 103 inches in the vicinity and a total width of slightly less than 70 inches (not counting side of the new Subaru’s).

There are a few not-to-personality differences between these two models to ignore. To start, the exhaust note of the Subaru was a twanging low that more pulses when pressed, the Ralliart meanwhile sounds a bit more generic and more resonance, as you would expect a tuner car to sound.

We found it somewhat easier for a convenient, upright sitting position in the Ralliart, but the downside was difficult to view outside. The Subaru feels a larger, airy greenhouse with most angles, a better view.

The switches in both vehicles is not something to behold, but we really do not like the weak, tinny way the doors closed in the Ralliart. The dashboard and door panels felt a step in the Ralliart, with the hard door trim show scratches and wear all …

But there are some benefits packages. With the Ralliart seats so it seemed a bit more space (perhaps with a slightly higher ceiling), and a quick release, in addition to the load, so you can flip the seat forward with an arm-something the WRX does it have. Yet the subwoofer for the available Rockford Fosgate audio system eats a bit of cargo space.

This 710-watt Premium Sound system in the Mitsubishi, by the way, sounds better than what you see in the Subaru, although only available as part of an expensive, $ 2,500 Recaro Sport package, the sound system, plus Sirius Satellite Radio, brings Recaro sport seats, and HID headlights. A navigation system is optional, but only as a port-installed option.

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