Price: From 21,649
On sale: Now
You'll like: It's pretty brisk
You won't: It's pretty expensive
As you walk towards the Lancer Sportback Ralliart, there's a mantra you must keep repeating: 'It is not an Evo.' It just looks a bit like one.
What you've got is an aggressive(ish)-looking sporty hatch with a 2.0-litre turbo engine that chucks out 237bhp through a six-speed semi-auto gearbox and four-wheel-drive system. That should be enough to get the attention of any hot hatch buyer.
Whether it has quite enough to keep their attention is another thing. Certainly, a 0-60mph time of 7.1 seconds won't make you look sheepish away from the lights and, if you felt like it, you wouldn't stop getting faster until you hit 136mph. So far, so interesting.
Little drama or excitement
Corners are a slightly different matter. Grip is reasonable, although the front tyres start to slide wide of your intended route a touch earlier than you might expect. Get on the power, though, and that four-wheel-drive system fairly launches you up the road with no wheelspin or drama. That's the problem with the car: there's not a huge amount of excitement. You feel like you're driving along in a relatively humdrum hatchback, albeit one that seems to have the scenery going past it quite rapidly.
The ride's pretty good, although that translates into a bit too much body roll at speed. The steering, meanwhile, is light and gives a reasonable idea of what's happening up at the pointy end. The standard SST gearbox shifts ratios fairly smoothly, but it still isn't as quick or smooth as Volkswagen's DSG system.
On the surface, a price of 21,649 seems reasonable for a rapid four-wheel-drive hatch, but once you've seen the quality of the (admittedly well-equipped) interior, you can't help but feel it is a bit dear.
Looks interesting on paper, but is less riveting on Tarmac
Engine size: 2.0 T
Price from: 21,649
0-60mph: 7.1 seconds
Top speed: 136mph
CO2 g/km/tax: 243/35%
Insurance group: 17 Airbags: 7 Doors: 5 Seats: 5 Colours: 5
Likely discount: It's a haggler's paradise just now, so aim for a good 1200 off the asking price
Or try a
Vauxhall Astra VXR
Volkswagen Golf GTI