In the opening installment of Project Sportback, we covered how to transform Mitsubishi's new Lancer Ralliart Sportback into something much cooler with just a few simple, yet effective, suspension mods. With nothing more than springs and spacers, the car was sittin' proper. Beyond that, I added an AMS boost pill along with an AMS tune to keep everything straight. Project Sportback felt much better, but it was easy to tell the car was still being choked up and not making all the power it could.
On the way home from a time attack race at Sebring International, I just happened to be passing through Illinois and decided to stop in at AMS Performance to pick up a few of its new Lancer Ralliart product releases. And by "a few," I mean AMS' entire lineup of parts, minus the twin-tip exhaust system, which at the time was about two weeks from going into production. With the modifications - an AMS EVO X intake kit with a K&N filter, an upper intercooler pipe, an intercooler and an exhaust - the Ralliart was about to be uncorked.
I lined up an install session with a friend and his baller garage at the Midwest Automotorplex in Minnesota. It was nice to have a place to work on the car while being at home. Installing everything was pretty straightforward; it's pretty much the same setup as under my EVO's hood, except the airbox and battery locations. On the EVO X, the battery is in the trunk to help weight distribution, but on the Sportback (and all Ralliarts) the battery is up front in the engine bay. To make AMS' EVO X intake work on the Sportback, I used AMS' mini battery kit - every pound counts, right? I had to get creative while mounting the mini battery kit, but it took no longer than a few minutes to make it fit. The intake pipe slides right onto the turbo and fits quite nicely in the engine bay. AMS' intake kit comes with a genuine K&N filter, so you can expect quality filtration, unlike some of the no-name filters used on other intakes on the market.
After getting the intake situation squared away, all of the other AMS parts went on without any complications. I had been running my OEM EVO X intercooler for a few days, but was happy to replace it with the AMS unit; it's not only much larger in every dimension but also extremely efficient. Up next was the upper intercooler piping install, which was extremely easy because the stock piping runs across the top of the engine. It's only two bolts and two hose clamps to get the OEM flexi-rubber pipe off and the AMS aluminum pipe on. I chose the black powdercoated versions of both AMS' intake and UICP, and while they cost slightly more, the solid-black look is a nice, stealthy touch. Finally, I added my custom touch to the UICP by installing AMS trunk badges instead of the sticker that comes with pipe.
With shop time running out, we had to cut the install session short. The second half of the breathing mods were rescheduled for a couple weeks later when the new AMS twin-tip exhaust would be available. It was a good decision, too, because when I installed it, my entire perception of the car and driving experience totally changed. It went from sounding wheezy and out of breath up top, to something completely different. It was now barking out the downshifts with the TC-SST perfectly rev-matching all day long, and the free-flowing exhaust system now allowed the engine to pull hard all the way to redline - the car felt pretty flat up top before that.
The addition of AMS' high-flow cat and 3-inch twin-tip exhaust to Project Sportback easily became my second favorite mod of all time, only slotting in behind the JRZ suspension on the EVO. Seriously, this car sounds so amazing now - crisp and clean without being obnoxiously loud. I should also mention that the car picked up about 40 whp with the new pipes, but that's secondary to how great it sounds.
An AMS wide-mouth downpipe hasn't made it's way onto the car just yet, but for good reason. With the downpipe bolting directly to the turbo, I figured why do it now when I'll just be undoing it again to install a new turbo very shortly. That's right, things are about to get serious with the car. I'm proud to announce that we've partnered with CBRD for Project Sportback and will be running its new BBK-Lite turbo that's based off an OEM EVO X turbo. CBRD makes modifications to both sides of the compressor wheels to make significantly more power than a stock EVO turbo, while still retaining excellent spooling capabilities.
Our end goal is to make around 400 whp and 400 wtq on the stock block with E85. With the car currently making around 268 whp and 300 wtq, respectively, that goal isn't unrealistic. AMS has done similar mods with its Stage 3 package, including an upgraded EVO X turbo, and its Ralliart made 365 whp. With the BBK-Lite, we should easily crest 400 whp; the only sketchy part will be figuring out how to make 400 whp/wtq safely. The TC-SST transmission was never designed for that much power, but that's not to say it can't happen. I'm confident that with the support of AMS and CBRD, we'll come up with a solution for these cars. It may be as simple as a software upgrade or much more, but there's only one way to find out!
Don't think I haven't forgotten about handling and braking. I'll be working closely with JRZ to develop a legitimate handling package for this platform. Also, my longtime technical partner, Girodisc, is now part of the project and the guys over there will be handling the brake upgrades on the Ralliart. Then when it's all said and done, we'll hit the track to see how quick the Ralliart is and how it compares to an EVO X.