The Lancer Evolution is insane. Engineers at Mitsubishi decided to take an average sedan, spend nearly $20,000 on a drivetrain, and offer it for sale. The results are nothing short of astounding.
When you open the door, you immediately realize that the Evo isn’t exactly what you would call comfortable. Four-way adjustable Recaro seats are the first thing you notice. Yes, only four. There’s no adjustment for height, leaving you as close to a fixed racing seat as legally possible in a road car. On top of that, the steering wheel does not telescope. The Evo’s interior isn’t designed for luxury, despite the options you see laid out in front of you. Our test car, the top end MR model, came loaded with navigation, full leather seats, and the upgraded Rockford Fosgate sound system. Despite these trappings, the car is completely performance focused. As such, the Evo MR is loaded with performance-focused features; an intuitive 6-speed Twin Clutch Sportronic Shift Transmission (SST), 18″ BBS forged wheels, 2-piece Brembo brakes, and Bilstein struts with Eibach springs.
When you finally decide to take it for a drive, you realize what Mitsubishi has done here. They have created a car that is not focused on luxuries, comfort, or practicality. Instead they have created a car that destroys tarmac with such tenacity that you feel able to bend the laws of physics. If I were to own one of these, I’m fairly certain I would lose my license. Blasting up your favorite road is handled better than most sports cars I’ve driven, and at greater speeds. The steering is razor accurate, and the car grips well beyond any comfort zone. The Lancer Evolution X uses a complex all-wheel-drive system dubbed Super All-Wheel Control. It does control all wheels, and sends power to whichever wheels can make the most of their grip any particular time. It does allow some slip, but it mostly allows for insane G-load around corners. Your brain thinks it can navigate that sweeping S-turn safely at 40mph? Well the Evo just did it at 70mph, and your brain is still trying to catch up.
The only thing that can move you out of the fixed-bolstering of the Recaro seats are the heart-stopping Brembo brakes. In assistance to that, the Evo’s precise steering allows for quick and accurate turn-ins. The transmission is always at your beck-and-call. In Sport and S-Sport, it does a perfect job of holding gear during acceleration and down-shifting under braking to keep the engine in the boost. In manual mode, it’s all too easy to pull the large column-mounted paddles when you want to rattle off a quick triple downshift. Lastly, the sound of the engine is your typical four cylinder with a massive turbocharger, droney with a hint of whistle. The exhaust on the other hand sounds fantastic, and with the SST throttle-blip downshifts, you get a nice bark when in sport mode. Packing 291hp and 300lb-ft of torque from a tiny 2.0L engine is something of legend. When using the launch control, you can propel yourself to 60 in just 4.7 seconds.
So everything sounds great so far, right? Well, there are always some bad points, and rest assured, the Evo has some. Let’s start with the ride. The seats are fantastic, but they don’t cushion even the smallest bumps, which are amplified by the unforgiving chassis and suspension. Second would be the interior; the Evo is still basically a Lancer inside. Hard plastics everywhere lead to rattles and squeaks. The rearview mirror shook more than a subwoofer at a rave, often readjusting itself on rough roads. But the worst thing about the car has to be the gas mileage. Over the 800+ mile duration that we had the car, it averaged just under 15mpg combined. At points, when you’re really working the engine and transmission, you’ll be lucky to get more than 9mpg, and with a 14.5 gallon tank, that means a lot of fill ups. Oh, and the Evo runs on premium fuel.
This isn’t the only expense you’ll be incurring to have fun with the Evo. Now let’s think about who wants to buy this car. We stopped in to the local Mitsubishi dealer, and were shocked at their answer. We assumed that younger buyers are the target market for this car. However, this isn’t accurate. They had not sold an Evo to anyone under the age of 30. The reason? The target audience cannot afford the car, and neither can that their parents’ insurance policy. I called an insurance company to get a quote for what it would cost me, a 22 year old male with no tickets or accidents, to insure a Lancer Evolution X for a year. $3326.70 Affordable? Not on a budget.
After this fun-filled, slightly achy week, we can honestly say that the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution is one of the most fun cars to drive hard. The noise, the experience, and the fun will be something that you won’t forget. The engineers at Mitsubishi might be insane, but we have to thank them for that. Without it, the Evo would be the perfect no-compromises, road legal, testosterone inducing, boy racer.
|Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR||$37,895|
|Navigation System Package||$2,295|
|As Tested MSRP||$45,135|