Mitsubishi has finally dropped some interesting detail around what a return of its iconic Ralliart performance brand could look like in Australia. And if you care about driving, it’s good news.
Unlike other markets, such as Thailand where a Ralliart enhancement is relegated mostly to a sticker pack, Mitsubishi Australia has confirmed our cars will receive genuine performance upgrades.
The real bombshell, however, is that the Ralliart models might even be engineered right here in Australia.
“From our point of view, Ralliart means some tangible performance benefit,” said Mitsubishi Australia’s chief product planner Owen Thomson.
“Whether that’s to the chassis or to the powertrain or whatever; that’s our fundamental position on what MMAL [Mitsubishi Australia] would like to see in the market. How that eventuates is something we’re still working through with MMC [Mitsubishi HQ in Japan].
“But I think there’s been recognition that our market and our road conditions offer a really good opportunity for MMC to do some tuning based on what is needed for our market.
“And we’d like to see that if there’s any Ralliart model with some suspension stuff that it gets at least some local market assessment and tuning. And hopefully that can happen here in the future if that’s the case…”
A better handling and possibly more powerful Triton or Outlander that’s been tuned by Aussies for our roads? Sounds enticing. Just don’t expect to see such a vehicle arrive any time soon; Thomson was quick to emphasise that the discussions around Ralliart are still in their infancy.
“We’ve expressed a desire around where we’d like to go but we don’t have anything else to say around exactly how it will look at the moment,” he said.
The highly modified Triton that competes in the Asia Cross Country Rally
But while it might be some way off, it seems a joint engineering project has the initial support of both the Australian and head offices.
MMC’s lead vehicle engineer for Outlander, Kentaro Honda, told Wheels that Australia is a large enough and important market to warrant engineering a specific model for. And local Mitsubishi boss, Shaun Westcott, is eager to tap into Australia’s love of all things performance.
“We intend to inject some spice and excitement into the brand so we are looking at resurrecting Ralliart,” said Westcott.
“We are considered a core market for Mitsubishi and we are one of the top performing distributors around the world and we have a very close and significant relationship with MMC with high levels of collaboration on important new models.”
As for which model is likely to be the first to gain the Ralliart treatment, Thomson confirmed that Triton and Outlander are the strongest candidates.
Mitsubishi showed the Vision Ralliart concept (above), which is based on the Outlander, at the 2021 Tokyo motor show. And it’s currently campaigning a modified Triton, dubbed the AXCR, in the 2022 Asia Cross Country Rally.
“Globally the biggest opportunity is probably the SUV segment,” he said. “But for the ASEAN market it may well be a ute. And the AXCR is reflective of that.
Don’t get your hopes up that a Ralliart version of the Triton will be a full fat rival for the Ford Ranger Raptor, however. Any performance tweaks aren’t likely to be that extensive.
“Raptor is a full bespoke EOM performance vehicle,” said Thomson. “And that needs big factory investment.”
So there’s still some water to go under the Ralliart bridge for our market but here’s hoping the project continues to gather steam.