Mitsubishi’s Lancer Evolution is far from practical, but it’s a riot to drive.
The tested Evo GSR is a handsome, crisply-styled sports sedan that is pricey, almost too powerful for its own good and yet, I loved driving it.
It’s based on Mitsubishi’s tame entry-level Lancer, which starts at $15,695 in DE trim. But Evo is miles from being an entry-level machine.
The racecar-like turbo-equipped Evo starts at $34,495 and with two option packages, and a delivery fee, hit $39,190.
Mitsubishi takes its fairly peppy base 2.0-liter, 148 horsepower I4 and adds a turbocharger and intercooler to jack that up to 291 horsepower. This one also features an alloy engine block and alloy cylinder heads for less weight and more power.
Evo runs on premium fuel and burns it pretty quickly. I managed just 17.3 mpg, including about 50% highway time. EPA rates this at 17 mpg city and 23 highway.
The Evo features a control system that gives all the wheels some power at times. The system manages Mitsubishi’s Active Center Differential, Active Yaw Control, Active Stability Control and its ABS system. The goal is balancing steering control and traction for better handling, and it works beautifully.
Steering is extremely crisp and responsive. But the ride is harsh.
The Evo’s younger target demographic may not mind that so much, as the turbo makes the Evo absolutely explode from a stop and the all-wheel control system keeps its wheels grabbing pavement as it rockets forward.
Mitsubishi’s five-speed manual transmission is easy to slip through its gears, although the throws are longer than I had expected. Most cars now are going with six-speed manuals, and at 70 mph this one is still revving at about 3,400 rpm, a bit much. Adding another gear would allow you to save some gas and lower the engine strain at highway speeds.
Still, the Lancer is extremely easy to drive.
I like Evo’s no-nonsense dash that delivers simple gauges and controls.
The leather Recaro seats are snug, fitted and comfortable. Yet they are not powered, and there is no pump handle to raise the driver’s seat height or adjust the lower cushion’s angle. There are two-speed heaters on both front seats. There’s no navigation system, which seems odd at this price, although I didn’t miss having it.
The automatic climate control worked well and cranked out heat quickly. Another option package upgraded the stereo to a 710-watt Rockford Fosgate system with nine speakers and a 10-inch subwoofer. The package costs $2,100.
All that stereo equipment eats into the car’s trunk space. It’s an extremely modest 7 cubic feet.
Practical the Evo is not. But if you have a need for speed, this Lancer version will satisfy it.
Mark Savage welcomes your questions and comments regarding new vehicles at Savageonwheels@yahoo.com.