For all intents and purposes, this car shouldn’t have turned out as dope as this. Given that it’s not an Evo X, we had to pause for a moment when Mitsubishi first approached us to do a project on their Ralliart model from the Lancer lineup. Initially, we were told we could take our pick of a blue or dark grey sedan—the only downside being that any other media outlet who was also given a car to build would also have these two colors to choose from. Meh. But a second option was proposed; what if we were to opt for the Sportback version instead? The hatchback was already seen as a bit of an outsider, a black sheep to some, but wagons can become cool; just look at the Europeans. The only drawback with the Sportback was a six-month wait time,
a small price to pay for originality. Now, what about our choice of color? Oh, they come in white? PERFECT. We’ll take one… and wait. Nobody else is going to have a white Ralliart Sportback, the ideal specimen of a project car.
When the car finally arrived, we couldn’t be any more pleased, nor could we contain our excitement. At least, that was how I was feeling. Other than the only time I’d driven it previously at the press launch – which, to be honest, was driven a few short miles in an unfamiliar city – the Ralliart Sportback would become a long-term project that I’d learn to love over the months of ownership. The first couple of months were regulated strictly to breaking the engine in, and it would be sourcing parts that would prove to be the biggest pain; companies simply didn’t offer any and they don’t carry over from the Evo X as you might expect. Chassis-wise, the only crossover part is the hood; the front fenders and bumper, and the entire rear suspension is all completely different. So as you can probably guess, the easiest aftermarket piece we could find was a Seibon carbon hood. Everything else would require a small wait as our partnering sponsors worked to find a solution for us.
And so the Ralliart remained stock for another few months. This gave me some time to think about what I would ultimately want as the end result for this project; that came to me when I saw a modified Audi A3 wagon while stuck in LA traffic. Now, for people who know me, they know that I love European wagons—especially white ones with a black roof, precisely the color of the A3 I saw that day. The shape was similar, it was slammed and the only other thing it had was a quad-tip exhaust; I had found the inspiration. Mixing JDM and EDM influences for a clean look. DC Sports had already designed an exhaust for the Ralliart sedan and it had already seen its way to another project car, so all that was needed was a test fit to make sure it lined up the same, and it did; the only difference being it’s a dual-tip versus a quad-tip I originally wanted. Under the hood, we didn’t touch much of anything. Knowing the car had to be returned stock, the plans to swap in the factory Evo X turbo and intercooler were thrown out the window; instead, DC suggested replacing the stock upper intercooler pipe with one of theirs to not only increase velocity and achieve a smooth and consistent flow, but to get rid of a stock piece that basically flexes and expands a lot more than you want; naturally, this upgrade was good for a small bump in power. We’ve yet to do a final dyno pass to see what all of DC’s bolt-ons tally up to, but our last trip with just the exhaust and a drop-in K&N filter resulted in 228hp and 236lb-ft.
Then, finally came the day when KW called to let us know their Variant 2 coilovers were ready for our project. Being that the rear suspension/subframe is a completely different design from the Evo X, it meant an entirely new kit had to be developed, and we couldn’t have asked for a better partner in this department. The Variant 2 coilovers came preset from their Germany factory for the optimal height and damping, and only required us to reuse our factory shock hats for installation. Immediately the Ralliart received a fresh look—ie, it’s f’in dumped—but still rides quite smoothly. Rubbing, that’s a whole different story, and I had the crew at Evasive Motorsports do their magic of finessing the fenders (that’s cutting and rolling) until perfection was achieved. Even with a relatively high offset set of SSR Type F wheels on deck, the +42 still proved to be aggressive at such a low height, but now only minimally rubs when the wheels are fully turned. Spoon Sports also helped us out with our suspension by outfitting us with a set of rigid subframe collars. Having driven the past few months with this setup, the slammed look is what turns heads the most; thumbs-up are a common occurrence. Sure, it’s not the most practical; it scrapes on just about every driveway, but shit, it is cool.
Without much of any other performance parts going into development or any need to go super custom, we could only really touch on a couple more areas. Meguiar’s Wraptivo project came to light just in time for our SEMA debut last year, so to mimic that European look, we had them install a black carbon roof as an alternative to just painting it black or wrapping it with flat black vinyl. If you ever see the car in person, you can feel the texture and quality from this wrap. ARK Design helped us tweak out the interior with a pair of their Road Warrior seats and a MFD-2 (see sidebar); other than that, it remains all stock and clean.
So how do you like the finished project? We do intend on riding out the remainder of the 2011 season by taking this car to a couple more shows in the Los Angeles area and get a final dyno number. So make sure you come and check it out for yourself in person; if you can’t, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ARK Design’s reclinable seats, the Road Series, was designed with the help of Sparco, and comes in medium and large sizes (thankfully they gave us the large for our fat asses), and can recline with an actual pull lever versus a knob that most reclinable seats come with.
The MFD-2 (Multi Function Display) is a great all-in-one monitoring device with an Organic LED (OLED) screen, so you can keep watch over your engine’s vitals. You can flip through each mode easily (we like the boost gauge most), and since this is compatible with most OBDII systems, you can plug this in and get it working right away without having to install an additional sensor. Plug in via the mini-USB port and you can download software updates and additional display “skins”.
2009 Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart Sportback
OWNER Super street magazine Hometown Los Angeles, CA Occupation Oh, You Know...
Power 228hp/236lb-ft (as of press time); tuned by Mike Welch at RRE
Engine DC Sports upper intercooler pipe and exhaust; Evo X plastic valve cover; K&N drop-in air filter
Footwork & chassis KW Variant 2 coilovers; Spoon Sports Rigid Collar kit
Wheels & tires 19x8.5" SSR Type F wheels; Toyo T1R 245/35R19 tires; fender modifications by Evasive Motorsports
Exterior Seibon carbon hood (not pictured); Wraptivo–covered carbon roof
Interior ARK Design MFD-2 and Road Warrior seats
Thanks You William Law and staff at DC Sports for all of their help with this build-up; KW; K&N; Taro Koki at GTChannel; Spoon Sports; James Nagahashi and Jiro Adachi at SSR; Julie Sediq at Toyo Tire; Mike Chang at Evasive Motorsports; Mikey Lee at Seibon; RJ DeVera at Meguiar’s/Wraptivo; Troy Miyamoto at ARK Design; Mike Welch at RRE; Moe Durand at Mitsubishi for the swingin’ lunch mobile!
www.arkdesign-us.com; dcsports.com; evasivemotorsports.com; gtchannel.com; knfilters.com