2008 Mitsubishi Lancer
Few automotive rivalries have been as historically intense as the Subaru STI
versus Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution
battle. Waged over decades and across innumerable rally stages and production vehicles, the fight has won loyalists on both sides of the battle lines. For 2009, the Mitsubishi camp can celebrate a hard-won mechanical dominance thanks to a few tweaks on their tenth generation Evo, which debuted last year. Laced with enough high-tech wizardry to make even the most novice driver look like a rally god, the Evolution X can deal out domination on just about any road surface thanks to its impeccable all-wheel drive platform, potent turbocharged four-cylinder engine, massive brakes and game-changing dual-clutch SST transmission. The Evo was built with one purpose in mind – to perform. That may be a goal that many cars attempt to tackle, but few manage to succeed at. The Evo is a four-door purebred sports car with rally in its veins, and it’s obvious from the first blip of the throttle that it’s something unique.
2008 Mitsubishi Lancer
What's to Like
The Evolution delivers world-class performance at a pretty great price. Power is crisp, handling is superb and the fact that it offers four doors puts it head and shoulders above most of its two-seater and coupe competition. The full-time all-wheel drive system is a work of art, delivering going power in even the worst conditions. Also, the dual-clutch SST transmission – an Evo first – is amazing, giving you a Normal, Sports and Super Sport mode. In each of the modes, we were much, much faster around the track than with the manual gearbox. The Evolution is impossibly fast thanks largely to innovations like the super all-wheel control, which changes the torque at each individual wheel to maintain vehicle control.
What's Not to Like
This generation is slightly larger than previous incarnations, which takes away some of the lithe, light-on-its-feet feeling we loved about past iterations. Also, the aggressive design is dialed back. We miss the fire-breathing, boy-racer looks of the 2006 Mitsubishi Evolution IX MR
, a modern muscle car classic if there ever was one.
DriverSide Driving Impressions
There’s no mistaking the Evolution for a mere Lancer. Drop the clutch, press the gas pedal and the acceleration is instant and on demand from the 291 horsepower, turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The Evolution begs you to test the limits with each coming corner and tricks such as the super all-wheel drive system help you get massive grip and Porsche-like handling. Braking is close to perfect due to the Brembos. The interior is comfortable – or as comfortable as Recaro seats ever are – but it’s obvious that the Evo is designed for speed instead of long road trips. The suspension is stiff, but manages to field potholes and uneven pavement fairly well. Put the SST in Super Sport mode and hold on to your hats and glasses, because this here is the wildest ride in the wilderness.
Engine and Drivetrain
The Evolution’s heart is the turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine pumping out 291 horsepower and an even 300 lb-ft of torque. The power plant is coupled to either a five-speed manual or, in MR trim, the totally awesome six-speed SST double-clutch unit. This Mitsubishi is ready for whatever weather nature can throw at it thanks to its fantastic all-wheel drive system.
Interesting Vehicle Features and Options
The GSR trim is available with what the company calls a “sight, sound and spoiler” package that includes HID headlamps, a police attention-grabbing rear spoiler, a six-disc CD changer with SIRIUS satellite radio and a quick key entry system. All this can be yours for the low, low price of $2,000. The MR version is available with a technology package for $2,550.
Key Technology Evaluation
The MR’s tech package includes an onboard 30 gig navigation and music server. A CD/MP3/DVD head unit takes the place of the standard version to power a nine-speaker surround system, including a ten-inch subwoofer.
Green Evaluation/Gas Mileage
When equipped with the five-speed manual transmission, the Evolution manages 16 mpg city and 22 mpg highway. The six-speed double-clutch transmission delivers slightly better fuel economy with 17 mpg city and 22 mpg highway. While these numbers aren’t stellar by any means (they’re actually on par with the V-8 powered Lexus IS-F
), it’s important to remember that the four-banger under the hood is lugging around a lot of weight and pushing all four wheels, neither of which are good for fuel economy.
A Closer Look: Vehicle Details
The Evolution makes no qualms about its purpose from inside. Stiff bolstered seats deliver plenty of support for leaning on apexes, but leave something to be desired for long-term treks. We think the plastic is somewhat, er, plastic-y, not befitting, when kitted out, a $40,000-plus car.
Aggressive is the key word when describing this bruiser’s looks. A nose that seems to be frozen mid-lunge delivers a distinctly shark-like impression, complete with side gill slits. It’s a look that fits the car and you catch yourself grabbing one last look as you walk away from it in parking lots. Also, it’s not as boy-racer as in the past, which, depending on who you are, is either a plus or a minus.
Market Segment and Pricing
The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X GSR starts at $33,665, while the more performance-geared MR version weighs in at $38,965. Those numbers land it in the ring with sport sedans like the Subaru Impreza WRX STI
at $34,995, the Infinity G35x
at $34,750 and the Lexus IS 350
at $36,305. To be truthful, the only competitor that’s a true match is its long-term rival, the STI, which we think needs a dual-clutch gearbox posthaste.
What We Think
Without a doubt, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X is as close as you can come to buying a genuine rally machine that you would want to drive from the factory. It offers stellar performance bred from real experience on and off of World Rally Championship stages. Are there more refined sports cars out there? Absolutely. Is there a harder running ride out there below $40,000? We think not.