Mitusbishi wants to return the Ralliart brand to its former glory – but it hasn’t worked out exactly how just yet.
Senior figures within the program expressed a desire to offer Ralliart flagships for core models such as the Outlander and Triton, along with branded performance parts for owners who want to upgrade their vehicles.
In both cases, the intention is to go further than simple sticker packs or cosmetic add-ons.
“In the future we want to sell the Ralliart parts, and also as a complete car,” Hiroshi Masuoka, Mitsubishi development driver and head of Ralliart, said with the assistance of a translator.
“We want to provide those high-performance parts for the customers who want it.”
His vision is aligned with that of John Signoriello, Mitsubishi Motors head of sales and marketing and a key player in the Ralliart business unit. Mr Signoriello made clear, however, there’s more work to be done before that vision can be made real.
“His vision isn’t far off the vision of where we want to go, it’s just a matter of the business case, timing, those sorts of things,” Mr Signoriello said.
“We’ve committed to setting up a business promotion office, that’s committed to working through business cases. We’re still at the planning stage,” he added.
Mr Signoriello and Masuoka-san both suggested whatever Ralliart does, it needs to be rooted in real engineering and performance.
Already we’ve seen Ralliart develop the Triton dual-cab ute into a winner in the gruelling Asian Cross-Country Rally, delivering lessons Masuoka-san says have been fed into development of the next-generation ute set for reveal in the middle of 2023.
“We’ve been participating in a lot of competitions. The purpose of doing that is not just for promotion, but also to gain a lot of information from that kind of very serious usage,” executive officer responsible for product at Mitsubishi Motors, Koichi Namiki, told Australian media.
Namiki-san says Mitsubishi has “collected a lot of data” from its recent AXCR efforts, and suggested that’s the sort of development that could underpin the future of Ralliart.
The strongest indication of what could be to come from Ralliart is the Vision Ralliart Concept, an Outlander-based vision that “expresses the possibilities of the new Ralliart, with elevated acceleration, cornering and braking in all road and weather conditions”.
Under the skin, the concept features a “higher motor output” and an enhanced lithium-ion battery pack.
Although not confirmed, reports have suggested the Mitusbishi Outlander Ralliart could set the standard for the brand more broadly with a tri-motor plug-in drivetrain, air suspension, chunky tyres, and an aggressive styling package.
Masuoka-san confirmed those reports are accurate when it comes to what he wants from a Ralliart crossover, but they don’t necessarily represent what will go into production.
Ralliart has plenty of heritage. Founded in 1984, the badge has been used on World Rally Championship and Dakar winners, along with a range of road cars in various states of tune.
In Australia, the name has been applied to everything from warm Lancer models to locally manufactured Magna sedans.
Globally, it’s been rolled out in a range of forms in recent years. In Thailand, the Ralliart name now graces Triton and Pajero Sport specials wearing lots of stickers, but packing no extra power or suspension hardware.
“There’s lots of DNA, there’s lots of history with Ralliart and Mitsubishi. We all know that. We can all look back at the last 20 years and we can understand the history. Our task is; how do we take that history and create a future with it. That’s the discussion we’re having,” Mr Signoriello said.