2013 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR
However, it probably says something about the market for a super high-horse turbocharged 4-cylinder sedan that it’s pretty much a two car segment consisting of the Evo and Subaru’s WRX, based on its Impreza sedan.
Whatever you think of these (and if you’re more than 30, you probably don’t think about them much), these cars are little road rockets. But unlike muscle cars past, present and probably future, these are nimble road warriors, a real blast to drive. These are pure adrenaline rush machines. If you could snort a car, junkies would be sniffing these up!
The “wicked white” Evo MR I tested recently pumps out an amazing 291 horsepower with a torque rating of 300 from a little aluminum block 2.0-liter I4 with Mitsubishi’s own variable valve timing, aluminum cylinder heads and a twin-scroll turbocharger with intercooler. It sounds racy (noisy interior) and it IS.
You can blast away from any stoplight, zip past any car, even in the shortest of spaces. You’re an angry hornet buzzing about the roads, doing whatever you please, wherever you please. This is motorized freedom, at least until the police clock you.
In addition to its crazy fast engine, Evo delivers racer-like steering that’s on the heavier side, but still lighter than the German makes. This is less pricey than German makes too, although not cheap. Evo MR starts at $37,895 and this added no options, just a $795 delivery fee to list at $38,690. A bargain, but again, you’d better have some dough in the checking account. A base Evo GSR starts at $34,695, with all the same power and underpinnings, but a 5-speed manual tranny.
The MR has a 6-speed twin clutch Sportronic that is automatic, but allows you to shift it manually. It also offers you Normal or Sport modes for shifting, just flip a toggle on the console by the shifter. Sport holds your lower gears so long you’ll wonder if you’re ever gonna get out of second gear, while the Normal mode just holds them a tad longer than you might expect in normal city driving. Behind the tilt/telescope steering wheel are a couple stationary paddle shifters too, which allow you to shift on demand.
Handling and ride are impacted by all the racy gear in the suspension, including Bilstein shocks front and rear along with 23mm stabilizer bars and a multi-link rear suspension featuring Eibach springs. That translates into a ride that only a racer (on a racetrack) can appreciate. It’s harsh to be sure, almost to the point where you feel the lines painted on the highway. Grip though is good, with 18-inch Yokohama high-performance tires for summer driving, while the test car had winter versions, which were much needed during a snowy stretch during my test.
Braking is intense and precise, with giant vented discs front and rear, plus ABS, traction and yaw (stability) control, and the car comes with all-wheel drive. You can adjust the AWD too with a button on the console. There are three settings, Tarmac (pavement), Gravel and Snow. I only tested the Snow and Tarmac, but both kept the racy sedan well planted.
You’d expect a performance car like this to drink premium petrol, and you’d be right. I also got a measly 16.7 mpg while the EPA estimates you’ll get 17 mpg city and 22 mpg highway … well, maybe if you don’t push hard on the accelerator. But then why drive an Evo?
Inside, this is a no nonsense driver’s car, without a navigation system and an annoying touchscreen to adjust the radio. No sir, here you get nice informative gauges with black backgrounds and white numbers and dash buttons that are designed for easy use. There’s nothing to distract a driver from doing what he or she is supposed to be doing … driving! Imagine that!
I also like the firm, supportive Recaro cloth sport seats that wrap around and support the driver and front seat passenger as if they’re heading out onto an autocross course. These are superb manual seats, but with a flaw. The driver’s seat has no height adjustment, so shorter drivers must drive from a very low position. I was uncomfortable with how low I was sitting. All this needs is a pump handle like so many cars have these days, and the mechanism to raise the seat an inch or so. At this price, I expect that much!
The interior here was black cloth with glossy piano black trim on the dash and doors. There are some of the other basics you’d expect, like power mirrors and the cruise, radio and phone buttons on the steering wheel hub. But there’s also a wheel to rotate on the dash to adjust headlight aim, from 0-5.
Climate control dials are big and easy to use while the radio volume knob could be a little larger, but otherwise all was easy to see and figure out, without a 50-page manual.
There are two cup holders in the console by the driver’s elbow for coffee and soda sippers. And overhead are the flimsiest sun visors I’ve seen in years. I felt I might rip one by folding it down. Sadly, they also did not slide or extend.
While you could carry a couple small adults in the back seat, the trunk is miniscule, just 7 cubic feet, so you’ll have to leave most of your luggage at home. Audio equipment helps eat up much of the trunk, so maybe if you just tool along with your significant other, or best bud, aboard you could pile your stuff in the back seat.
As mentioned before, the car is pretty noisy inside, so you’ll have to crank that 140-watt, six-speaker stereo to get the full effect in the car. You’ll also notice that every time you click off the ignition switch that the motor continues running for 3-4 seconds. That can be disconcerting if you’re making a quick exit.
Evo everyone? Nope, but for the young, or young at heart, who have some extra bucks to spend before they let a mortgage tie up their paycheck every month. Why not live a little?
FAST Stats: 2013 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR
Hits: Speed and handling are aces, super supportive Recaro seats, good gauges, dash buttons are designed for easy use, not distraction … i.e. no navigation system or touchscreen for radio.
Misses: Ride is so harsh you nearly feel the lines painted on roads. Racy seat is too low and has no height adjustment, tiny trunk, flimsy visors that don’t slide and radio volume knob a bit small.
Made in: Kurashiki, Japan
Engine: 2.0-liter I4 MIVEC Turbo, 291 hp
Transmission: 6-speed twin clutch Sportronic
Weight: 3,571 lbs.
Wheelbase: 104.3 in.
Cargo: 7.0 cu.ft.
Base Price: $37,895
Dealer’s Price: $36,296
Major Options: None
Test vehicle: $38,690
Sources: Mitsubishi, www.autos.yahoo.com
Photos: Courtesy of Mitsubishi