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Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution road test

by Mark Walker

26th May, 2011

Home > Road Tests > Mitsubishi

The Lancer, like all Mitsubishis, offers value and quality. The Lancer Evolution maintains the same philosophy but adds mega performance. We tested the entry level Evolution with manual transmission, driving around Sydney and the Hunter Valley.

The Lancer Evolution (Evo) was originally engineered to compete in the World Rally Championship with the first version being released way back in 1992. Despite winning many trophies, Mitsubishi have since withdrawn their factory rally team from the WRC. Thankfully, Mitsubishi continue to push ahead with the Evo concept.

The latest version, the Evo X (ten) arrived in 2008 and again, Mitsubishi have lifted the bar on performance.

Like its predecessor the Evo IX, the current Evo is powered by a 2 litre four cylinder turbo charged engine hitting the ground through all-wheel drive. Mitsubishi is deservedly proud of the all-new 4B11 T/C engine – and the rest of car too. The new engine has been designed to be lighter, more powerful and more responsive than its predecessor. The new engine weighs 12 kilogrammes less and peak power is up by 12 kW to 217 kW. Peak torque is lifted from 355 Nm to 366 Nm at 3,500 rpm. The turbo charger has also been designed to be more responsive. The result is astonishing for such a small engine.

The inclusion of a more efficient exhaust system has helped to improve performance. The new exhaust has also conveniently resulted in a deep, powerful exhaust note.

In other markets, the Evo X is available with even more potency. In the UK, for example, the Evo is available with three levels of power being 217 kW, 242 kW and 264 kW. Not to worry, our version has more than you need to enjoy driving it.

This car has phenomenal thrust and traction. Mitsubishi Australia doesn’t publicise acceleration data but need we say this car makes the dash to 100 km/h rapidly. Equally, the Evo has impressive stopping power.

The Evolution sits on 18” Enkei alloy wheels and is equipped with a massively effective ventilated Brembo braking system. Mitsubishi offer Evolution buyers the opportunity to upgrade the vehicle with the addition of the optional performance pack. This particular pack includes upgraded Brembo 2 piece front brake discs, Bilstein shock absorbers front and rear, EIBACH springs front and rear and 18” BBS forged aluminium wheels. The top of the range Evolution MR comes with the performance pack as standard equipment.

Even in standard specification, the Evolution delivers superb handling with vast amounts of grip. This Evo loves corners and is at its best driving on winding country roads. The grip built into the chassis is immense. It’s so stable through corners, it’s as if it’s on rails. The steering is well balanced and responsive enough to support the chassis when changing directions quickly.

In comparison to the impressive performance of the Evo, the interior may leave you feeling uninspired. Apart from the excellent Recaro bucket seats in the front, the interior is much the same as other Lancer models. The Recaro’s offer fantastic support during spirited driving and are very much liveable around town during day to day driving. The Evo cabin also features climate control, Bluetooth hands free phone connectivity and keyless entry – all of which are very practical and simple to use. You have to step up to the Evolution MR before you get satellite navigation. The MR comes with Mitsubishi’s excellent Mitsubishi Multi-Communication System standard together with other interior upgrades that include leather trimmed seats, heated front seats and a Rockford Fosgate AM/FM CD sound system with nine speakers including subwoofer. (copyright image)

Other standard convenience features include power windows and folding mirrors, cruise control and steering wheel mounted stereo controls.

On the safety front, the Evo is loaded with airbags, seven in all including side and curtain air bags. Active stability control is fitted to identify and correct under and over steer. The all-wheel drive system has an active centre differential to split the torque between the front and rear wheels. Active Yaw Control (AYC) is also fitted to control rear wheel traction. The AYC is able to transfer torque between left and right rear wheels to optimise grip. ABS is also standard.

Running costs of the Evo are bitter sweet. On the plus side, it includes capped price servicing for the first four years or 60,000 kilometres, whichever comes first. It also gets Mitsubishi’s excellent 5/10 Warranty offering the new car warranty for 5 years or 130,000 kilometres, whichever comes first and 5 years roadside assistance which, hopefully, won’t be required. The negative is fuel cost. The Evo requires 98 RON premium unleaded and plenty of it. My fuel usage fluctuated quite a bit. The best I recorded was 13 litres per 100 kilometres. With a tank size of 55 litres, that makes for a maximum range of just over 400 kilometres.

Pricing starts at $61,390* plus on-road costs for the entry level Evo with the 5 speed manual transmission (as tested). You may need to add $495* for metallic or pearlescent paint depending on your colour preference. The optional performance pack adds $5,500* before on-road costs. Also available is the 6-speed twin clutch sport shift transmission (TC-SST) with paddle shifters. This sophisticated automatic gearbox comes at premium of $5,000* over the manual. The top of the line Evolution MR is only available with the TC-SST and is priced at $74,390* plus on-road costs.

It comes as no surprise that the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution is considered one of the best handling performance cars available and has maintained this reputation for many years.

This is a vehicle that genuinely punches well above its weight.

NOTE: * MLP (manufacturer's list price) excludes options, dealer delivery fees and the various statutory charges. Additionally, all prices, fees, charges and specifications are always subject to change without notice.

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