Mitsubishi's brutish turbo-diesel Racing Lancer, is set to make its official debut in round six of the 2008 FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup in Portugal, towards the end of October. With an eye on Dakar 2009, the off-road Lancer will showcase the versatility of the current Lancer platform. More than just a jacked up Sportback Lancer, the Racing Lancer has seen some 8,000kms of testing in some of the harshest environments to ensure its up to the challenges ahead.
The extended testing allowed Mitsubishi to develop new suspension geometry, better suited to the constantly changing weight distribution, and to better manage the torque characteristics of the new engine. The engine compartment itself has been re-designed to allow for improved cooling for the engine and auxiliary components - a must in such harsh conditions.
A new turbo design has provided improved response at low revs, in addition to more power at the top end. While official specifications have not been revealed, rumours suggest the 3.0 litre V6 turbo diesel is pumping out around 190kWs and 650Nms. A five-speed Ricardo sequential gearbox channels all that torque through a permanent four-wheel drive system with a limited slip central differential. Japanese test driver, Hiroshi Masuoka, has been behind the wheel of a Pajero/Montero Evolution fitted with the new power plant, and has been pleased with the results so far;
"The diesel version is overwhelmingly easy to drive thanks to its tremendous torque which is available over an even broader rev-band. It outperforms the petrol-powered car in terms of controllability over challenging terrain, as well as when accelerating out of corners and along high-speed straights. With the right set-up it would be comfortably faster."
Joan 'Nani' Roma has also been involved in development of the Racing-Lancer and was required to change his driving style to match the new engine's torque characteristics. During testing, Roma managed to post three 'fastest stage' times, and led the Portuguese event at one stage, giving a clear insight into the new engines potential.
While the Racing Lancer may never see showrooms, the idea of a torque-laden and highly capable off-road Lancer sounds like a good one to us. New Outlander anyone?