Mitsubishi R5 rallycarThis is the new Mitsubishi R5 rally car. It’s based on the Mitsubishi Mirage road car, which might not be the most ideal starting point for a rally challenger competing against proven Ford Fiestas and Citroen DS3s. But hang on…

Ralliart has developed the R5 – the same high-performance division that used to build and oversee the running of Mitsubishi’s all-conquering Evo World Rally Cars – which means it has plenty of pedigree.

In particular, it’s the Swedish branch of Ralliart that has done all the work, so it should at least be good on snow, too…

Mitsubishi R5: where does it compete?

This is not a World Rally Car, however. It’s been designed for competition in what’s called the WRC2 championship.

WRC2 is open to production-based cars, including vehicles built to the R5 class rules, hence the Mitsubishi’s name. We think dropping the Mirage tag was probably a good idea.

Mainly because it’s a great deal more sophisticated than the Japanese firm’s road-going budget hatchback.

Mitsubishi R5: engine power and performance

Chief engineer Tomas Weng of Mpart AB (the official name for Ralliart Sweden) has worked his magic on the Mitsubishi.

It’s powered by a 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol motor limited by an air restrictor to 276bhp (280PS) and 354lb ft of torque. This is sent to all four-wheels via a five-speed Sadev sequential gearbox.

There are diffs at the front and rear to maximise traction, while a selection of special Ohlins suspension dampers take care of keeping the wheel in contact with the road – a difficult job when many of the surfaces the R5 will race on are little more than rocky, muddy, gravel tracks.

To ensure the suspension has a super-stiff platform from which to do its job (jumps and bumps mean it’ll have a lot to cope with), Ralliart Sweden has redesigned the front and rear sub-frames for the MacPherson struts.

Brakes come courtesy of British firm AP Racing and are 355mm in Tarmac spec, 300mm on gravel and snow.

R5 cars are not quite as sophisticated as their full-on WRC brethren, which helps to keep budget down. So weighing 1,230kg (the R5 class’s minimum weight limit) this Mitsubishi is very much a junior WRC car designed to prepare up and coming drivers for the full-on World Rally experience.

Mitsubishi R5: a return to the WRC?

There’s no mention of whether the arrival of the R5 heralds a return to the WRC at a later date, but the signs are certainly good going by the reception of the new car, as Weng outlines.

“A great deal of thought has gone into the design and development of this car. We have kept it as simple and efficient as possible and have used as many Mitsubishi parts as we can.

“We are confident this will make the car straightforward to maintain and has enabled us to offer it at a competitive price. So far customer enquiries have exceeded our expectations and confirmed sales have already reached double figures.”

If this new car is a success for Mitsubishi, then we might just see a return to top level rallying. Over to you, Subaru…