Mitsubishi’s performance and motorsports division has returned.
Not since 2010 have we heard any official word on Ralliart, when the automaker paused its operations and shifted its business model — for better or worse, depending on your nostalgia toward the brand — away from performance cars and toward SUVs. Now, it seems Mitsubishi is changing course, as it’s bringing back the Ralliart brand after an 11-year-long hiatus.
Over the past few decades, the company’s motorsports arm gained notoriety through the World Rally Championship and Dakar (formerly the Paris-Dakar Rally). Mitsubishi pulled out of both events in 2005, before it eventually jettisoned the name entirely, blaming poor demand for their aftermarket parts. A lot of that recognition came in tandem with the Mitsubishi Lancer, which the company also dropped in a shift away from a performance toward all-wheel drive SUVs. Forbes reports, by way of Mitsubishi CEO Takao Kato, that with its recent financial earnings reports the company will bring Ralliart back, at least in Asia.
“For customers who wish to experience our Mitsubishi-ness, we will launch custom-made accessories for our model lineup as well as re-entering motorsport events around the world.” To that end, the report also mentions two all-new models as part of their “realization of Mitsubishi Motors-ness”. Now, for those of you who are hopeful the company will revive the old Lancer Evolution, it appears their re-think on performance will funnel its way into SUVs. No huge surprise there, but that does mean we could see something with the Ralliart name by 2023.
New Ralliart machines will probably be electrified
Don’t think a performance revival means backing out on hybrid powertrains, either. While Ralliart was an eyebrow-raising revelation from the automaker, Mitsubishi also emphasizes its commitment toward the “superiority” of plug-in hybrid vehicles. New models, then, will likely house an electrified setup with their Super All-Wheel Control system.
We’ll have to wait and see exactly how that shakes out and exactly what that means for North America. Given Mitsubishi’s moves over the past few years, though, it looks like this could be an opportunity to bring some old-school enthusiasts back on the company’s side.