Like most things in life, companies make big strides and then take a big tumble. Mitsubishi there is no exception. The rally superstars of just a few decades ago jumped on the rise of SUVs but fell a little behind. With the pioneering hybrid technology and its application to large vehicles in the form of the Outlander PHEV, the manufacturer produces excellent cars.
Although, for some reason, the company lagged behind the competition and suffered from jumping on market trends instead of dictating them. Now the company is getting back to its routes and has announced the return of fan favorite Ralliart. The full plan isn’t public yet, but it could mark a turn in events for the teetering manufacturer.
Mitsubishi Motors is spreading strong Dakar Rally and WRC vibes with the return of the iconic Ralliart packages.
A letter about Mitsubishi Ralliart
To rev up newer transmissions that may have missed Mitsubishi’s rally brilliance, Ralliart was their rally division. Participated in 26 consecutive Dakar rallies and won 12 of them. The department also developed cars for the World Rally Championship and took on the Subaru WRX STI. The team then proceeded to put high-performance variants of Mitsubishi’s cars on the road.
These are some of the most elusive and desirable models from Mitsubishi’s past. Mitsubishi Motors competed in the WRC between 1967 and 2005 and in the Dakar Rally between 1983 and 2009. Most recently, the brand turned to motorsport with electric vehicles to cement its status as a pioneer in this field.
Mitsubishi and the return of Ralliart
According to Mitsubishi, the revived Ralliart will offer “good driving performance and a secure feeling” as well as “styling that expresses strength, robustness and authenticity”. At this point, you might have hope for a Mitsubishi Evo return. But temper your expectations. So far, Mitsubishi has not yet confirmed any new models in its lineup.
The brand has moved away from budget vehicles and budget performance vehicles into the increasingly competitive crossover market over the past decade. At the bottom of the row sits the Mirage. At the top is the Outlander and its hybrid version. In the middle comes the Outlander and the infamous Eclipse. A revived nameplate of a 1990’s JDM sports car legend as a mid-size crossover.
As a result, expect to see sportier looking Mitsubishi cars soon. The current model range, just like its competitors at Toyota, Nissan and Honda, largely uses aggressive and angular designs. Flashy designs, but they still ride high off the ground and aren’t particularly appealing to younger riders. At the time of writing, Ralliart’s return is marked by a simple page buried on the manufacturer’s website.
This explains their success and outlines a mission statement both in the text and a statement by Hiroshi Masuoka, a two-time Dakar Rally winner. Staying true to their heritage, Ralliart packages will likely not be the usual sport package with black wheels and lowered suspension, instead taking inspiration from the rally stage with mudflaps and spoilers as seen on previous concepts.
Performance upgrades that Ralliart can offer
The Eclipse Cross promises a “sleek and aggressive profile” which, in combination with the range of turbocharged engines, promises a high level of performance. However, with a 0-60mph time of 9.35 seconds, the car’s performance falls short of those promises. Performance versions of crossovers and SUVs have become increasingly popular in recent years.
Some of the recent notable models, including the Ford Puma ST and Audi SQ2, have sold incredibly well. Perhaps a 2.0-litre version of the Eclipse with a dual-clutch transmission instead of its usual CVT could get some attention for Mitsubishi. Even better, the current Mirage sedan packs a bigger engine and some stiffer springs, and it’s a winning formula like the Dodge Neon SRT-4.
Mitsubishi took this opportunity to renew its commitment to driver and passenger safety. With the company aiming to get you from A to B safely, this confirms somewhat that there are no new performance-oriented Mitsubishi cars on the immediate horizon. Ralliart is their badge, a bold white font separated by red and orange bars.
Distinctive and prestigious, Ralliart offers Mitsubishi an excellent opportunity to offer sportier cars. The German brands offer their M-Sport, S-Line and AMG-Line styling packages. Each of these brands, in their full sporting name, has a history as significant as Ralliart. An easy way to make more money on the options list. These packs make cars look more appealing than their base-level counterparts.
With that said, there remains some hope for the Lancer’s return. In an interview with Response in June 2021, Mitsubishi President Kato said: “We will also consider participating in rallies”. However, Kato also adds a caveat to this statement: “We made a big loss in the past fiscal year, so we want to revive the company first and then release as many cars as possible that the fans are waiting for.”
Perhaps the Ralliart revival is simply testing the water and consumer base’s appetite for Mitsubishi’s performance models.
Source: Mitsubishi Motors