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Ralliart on the move

Supercharged: Hot 380 Team Mitsubishi Ralliart will soon go into production.

Mitsubishi gets serious with its fast-car division

7 Mar 2007

MITSUBISHI Motors Australia is working on a plan to energise its Ralliart performance division, moving from a small outfit in Victoria to a bigger operation at its Tonsley Park assembly plant in Adelaide.

The Adelaide-based car-maker intends to put more emphasis on performance cars and is expected to announce production of its supercharged 380 Team Mitsubishi Ralliart next month. It is also working on a Ralliart version of the three-door Pajero – a model that at one stage was planned to be a Ralliart model exclusively – to build off the brand’s Dakar rally success.

Ralliart models are currently prepared in Dandenong by Alan Heaphy, who has previously run Mitsubishi’s rally program and who also built the 380 Ralliart show car.

As part of its plan, Mitsubishi is looking at having Ralliart preparation work done at Tonsley Park. It is currently considering doing the work itself, but is also talking to interested third parties that could do the modifications on-site in the same way Prodrive will modify TRD cars at Toyota’s Altona plant.

Mitsubishi sources have confirmed Prodrive is one of the operations in discussions with Mitsubishi. When contacted by GoAuto this week, Prodrive’s Asia-Pacific general manager Bryan Mears declined to comment.

"Whether we set up our own workshop …or whether we outsource it, that is really what we are going through at the moment," said Mitsubishi Motors Australia president Robert McEniry. "You could take some of it in-house, but we are just working through the logistics of that at the moment."Mr McEniry said it was important that Mitsubishi made more of its Ralliart brand.

"I think Ralliart is an under-leveraged brand for Mitsubishi. It’s something I would have liked to have spent more time on last year, but as you can probably understand there were a few other priorities."The TMR 380 could be on the road within months, but there are some technical hurdles it must overcome first. With no stability control systems currently available for the 380, the supercharged prototype has proven to be a handful when accelerating out of tight corners.

Mr McEniry told GoAuto that Mitsubishi is currently in discussions with two suppliers regarding a possible solution. The Pajero project is not yet confirmed, but Mr McEniry said the three-door model was the perfect candidate for Ralliart work. He said the upgrades would include styling, wheel and suspension changes, but there would be no engine performance upgrades in the short-term.

Two performance models – the Evo X and more affordable turbo AWD Ralliart Lancer – will also be part of the new Lancer range that was unveiled at last week’s opening of the Melbourne International Motor Show.

Read more: Mitsu fires back with blown 380

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