Mitsubishi has shown of the first production-ready pics of the new Lancer Sportback (albeit in very low quality), expected at this year's Le Mondial de l'Automobile 2008 (Paris Motor Show 2008). Although not expected in Australia till next year, the new Lancer Sportback will be launched in Europe this fall.
The biggest news however, is that Mitsubishi plans to release a Ralliart variant of the Sportback along side the Ralliart Lancer sedan, to compete directly with the new WRX hatch (the WRX sedan will be here to then too).
The Ralliart tuned cars are powered by a turbocharged engine mated to Mitsubishi's Twin Clutch SST (Sport Shift Transmission) and driven via all four wheels through an Active centre Differential.
The 5-door sport hatchback will address a big gap in the current Mitsubishi lineup. The Japanese giant says there will be three engine choices (Europe - Australian specifications are yet to be confirmed)
At the bottom is a 1.5-litre (~80kW) four-cylinder petrol, which sits below the 1.8-litre (~105kW) to round out the N/A engines. There will be a 2.0-litre (~103kW) turbo diesel engine available a well.
Mitsubishi has also released specifications for the Ralliart variants, with power output of 177 kW and 343 Nm of torque. As far as we can tell, the Ralliart versions will not be available in manual, instead both shapes will be driven via Mitsubishi's Twin Clutch SST transmission with an Active Center Differential.
The AWD system is borrowed from the previous generation Lancer EVO IX and therefore provides extremely responsive steering and traction. Brakes are a tad ordinary with two-pots at the front (but with a larger brake master cylinder).
Another feature Mitsubishi is promoting is the "auto-folding function". The system allows for an adjustable rear floor height and rear seatbacks that can be tipped forward via a lever located in the luggage compartment.
The diesel engine as well as the Sportback should arrive in Australia by mid-late 2009. The CarAdvice team will be in Paris (as par of our Full Throttle in Europe trip #2 - more on that soon) for the show, so expect full coverage.