2015 will be the final model year for the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution. Mitsubishi had been toying with the idea of discontinuing its rally-inspired performance icon for years, and it as finally happened. The Evo is gone, probably for good, and that’s pretty sad. I have fond memories of the Evo. It was the first high performance press car I ever drove as a journalist, and it totally blew me away. In memory of this iconic nameplate, here is my review of the car from February 2011.
By Shari Prymak
The Lancer Evolution is quite a perplexing car. On the outside, it appears to be a sensible four door family sedan. It has a 2.0L 4-cylinder engine, which means it should be fuel efficient. It has all-wheel drive and six air bags, which means it should be safe as well. You can even get it with leather, GPS, and a high-end audio system.
Things aren’t always as they appear, however, because the Evo is just about as ridiculous and insane as a four door sedan can get. The trunk, for example, is so full of the car’s vital mechanicals and speakers, that there’s just about enough remaining room for a small duffle bag, and maybe your wallet. The engine is turbocharged to produce 291 hp at 6500rpm and 300lb-ft of torque at 4000rpm; and it’s about as loud, whiney, and refined as a rich girl having her super sweet 16. And finally, the all-wheel drive system may seem like a smart safety tool perfect for soccer moms, but it is in fact the most devilish, wicked, corner carving, drift inducing devise I have ever seen.
I took my test car to a high performance driving event, and it was one of the most surreal moments I have ever experienced. The Evo just goes, stops, and corners like a relentless demon. Nailing a corner at 100km/hr, it feels totally balanced, composed, and ridiculously controllable. Even when the cornering limit is reached and the tail starts to slide out, it takes nothing but the slightest steering and throttle adjustments to maintain and correct. And if it does let go and come off the tarmac? Well, let’s just say that’s where the Evo’s rally pedigree kicks in. It’s just so easy, so worry free, and just so much fun.
A major part of this near effortless, incredible performance is down to the aforementioned intelligent all-wheel drive system and trick limited-slip differential which together help to send power to the right wheel at the right time. But it’s also made possible thanks to the organic, super quick steering which, with a ratio of 13.3:1 and 2.27 turns lock-to-lock, is only a tick off that of the Ferrari 458 Italia. Strong, trustworthy, fade-free Brembo brakes and Bilstein/Eibach tuned suspension aren’t bad additions either.
The engine is a treat in its own right. Not much happens at low rpm, but once the turbo comes on around 2500rpm and you keep on it, the acceleration and noise is just awesome. According to official numbers, 0-100km/hr is dealt with in under 5 seconds, I won’t argue. At full force, it will go as quick as it will empty the gas tank. I never would have thought a 4-banger could be so wonderful until I experienced the Evo.
My test car came with the 6-speed twin-clutch paddle shift gearbox, which is probably the perfect choice for the owner who wants to use their Evo for the daily commute during the week, and for tearing quick lap times around the track on the weekend. For both purposes, this gearbox is nearly flawless. It shifts smoothly in any one of its three modes, normal, sport, and s-sport, and gear changes are lightening quick. Still, the traditional three pedal manual gearbox would be my choice for its peerless level of involvement and satisfaction.
Although the Evo receives a fair amount of criticism for not being the most street friendly car, I would have to disagree with this assessment. I found it to be perfectly suited to the daily grind of traffic, rules, and pedestrians, especially with the twin-clutch gearbox. The same Recaro seats that provide fantastic support on the track are all day long comfortable on the street. The ride, though quite firm, is fully tolerable; that is, so long as you avoid potholes and washboard surfaces. Yes, the drive can get a bit fatiguing over time, but the Evo always manages to redeem itself when it blows past a common BMW or Audi.
For those who may not know, Mitsubishi is considering discontinuing the Evolution, which is a terrible shame, because it is a truly brilliant car. It is just reeking of character and, when the road is right, spectacular performance. It isn’t anywhere near the most practical, comfortable, or rational performance car, but it is still immensely desirable. If you value masterful engineering, world-class performance, soulfulness over comfort, and uniqueness over luxury, then this is your car.
For more details, please visit the Mitsubishi Canada Website.