By Barbara & Bill Schaffer
After years of cries from ardent enthusiasts and automotive journalists to “bring the EVO to America” Mitsubishi finally brought the eighth generation Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution to the United States in 2002.
The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution (EVO) has been here 13 years, but it’s about to go away. That means enthusiasts or anyone interested in buying Mitsubishi’s street ready rally race car has a limited time to buy one.
For the price, the EVO is still one of the best handling cars you can buy and the 2.0-liter MIVEC turbocharged/intercooled four-cylinder engine produces impressive acceleration from a dead start to screaming out of a tight corner. For several years the EVO was one of just a few cars offering this level of performance and handling, but that has changed recently with the growing number of competitors. Still there’s something exciting about this pioneer of the rally-style car movement.
However, along with the great handling comes ride quality deterioration. When there’s a small bump in the road you feel it, and therein lies some of the EVO magic — it’s the kind of car that communicates precisely with the driver. Besides, it’s not the kind of car someone would buy for comfort.
We drove a 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR with the twin-clutch Sportmatic Automatic Transmission. This isn’t a transmission noted for its silky smooth shifts. This is a transmission that shifts quickly and positively…it’s not subtle during acceleration or downshift, you know it’s shifted.
In standard dress the EVO is equipped with a Super All Wheel Control (S-AWC) system with an Active Center Differential. It also has an Active Yaw Control rear limited-slip differential along with technologies like Active Stability Control and sport ABS brakes. These components are for a driver with much more high performance driving savvy than we possess, but bottom line is, if you want to go fast, especially on marginal or slippery surfaces, this is the kind of car you want.
With 291-hp and 300-lb.ft. of torque, the 2.0-liter engine gives the driver instant go. We felt no turbo lag as long as we kept the engine above an idle. The proverbial 0 to 60 mph acceleration test takes 4.9-seconds according to the magazines that have fancy timing equipment. Fuel economy, another one of those things an owner probably won’t worry about because this one only gets an EPA rating of 17 mpg city, 22 mpg highway and 19 mpg combined. Our combined average was a little better at 19.8 mpg.
To keep the weight down and help weight distribution, the EVO gets features like aluminum front fenders, hood and roof; ventilated two-piece brake rotors and trunk mounted battery. Speaking of the trunk the battery, big audio woofer and other changes cut trunk cut trunk capacity by more than 40 percent to only 6.9 cubic feet.
The Mitsubishi Lancer EVO is a car designed for terrorizing the countryside, sliding around corners and having more fun driving than is legal. But there is a caveat: it’s not for a novice or someone looking for comfort, it’s a precision tool best left in the hands of someone with some training and experience.
Our test car was very well equipped including features like Brembo brakes, bi-Xenon headlights, rain sensor wipers, forged BBS wheels, Yokohama ADVAN® high performance tires, a 710-watt Rockford-Fosgate audio system, SirusXM and HD radio along with a long list of other standard features. As the top model our Octane Blue MR with black leather seating had a base price of $41,805, including the $810 destination charge.
The Lancer Evolution also is available with a lower level GSR model with a five-speed manual transmission and prices ranging from $35,805 to $39,115.
A limited edition, appropriately called the “Final Edition” is being offered for $38,815. The 1,600 final cars will get the following equipment changes:
• 303 horsepower and 305-lb.ft. of torque
• Dark chrome painted Enkei® 18?inch aluminum alloy wheels
• Bilstein shock absorbers and Eibach springs
• Gloss black center bumper and hood air outlet
• Final Edition badge
• Red interior accent stitching for sport seats, steering wheel, shift knob, console lid, floor mats and emergency brake handle
• Black headliner, pillars, sun visors and assist handles
• Final Edition animation on meter cluster display
• Production serial number plaque on center console
• Black painted aluminum roof
• New Diamond White Pearl exterior paint
We don’t claim to be experts on car collecting, but this seems to have many of the elements to make it collectible: limited numbers, excellent performance and it is unique.
It’s sad to see a good car cut from a lineup, but we also understand, with the limited sales, Mitsubishi’s money could be spent building a more popular model. And another piece of automotive history is about to slip away.