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Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR (copyright image) Road Test

by Stephen Walker

4th January, 2008

One of the world's most highly prized automotive nameplates is Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution. Known simply as "Evo" by many enthusiasts, it has been impressing drivers and would be drivers since its inception in the early 1990s when the 2 litre DOHC turbocharged engine from the all-wheel drive Mitsubishi Galant VR-4 was popped into the Lancer. Well used to rally success, over a long period of time, Mitsubishi was able to put the Lancer Evo where it belonged ..... first!

The highly successful formula that saw the powerful all-wheel drive Lancer Evolution gain admiration amongst car enthusiasts was making a positive mark on history. Subsequent Evolution models came along at regular intervals, although usually in limited numbers. However, the Evo wasn't a regular model for Australian buyers until Evolution IX came along in late August 2005 following its homologation for our market.

Evo IX impressed the Next Car team so much that in 2006 it was named as Next Car's Top Drive for 2006. The motoring thrills delivered by the Evo IX were compelling for any motoring enthusiast. For example, the Next Car team quickly discovered that the Evo propels itself fast! And the grip was best compared to the tarmac itself. That is, the grip of the Evo seemed better than the grip that the bitumen had on the surface of planet Earth! The exhaust note was enthralling and the image projected by this car was unmatched. The Evo IX was, now, well and truly part of the regular line-up of Lancer models.

And yes, indeed, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution had secured itself quite a reputation ..... right from day one!

Stephen Walker with the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR (copyright image)

With newly designed 'regular' Lancer models successfully competing in the world's new car showrooms, the release of the Evo X was eagerly anticipated. And scheduled for regular production, due to the immense success of its predecessors, car enthusiasts considered the new Evo even more exciting than past renditions of the famous car.

But with the recent local release of the new Evolution, Mitsubishi's little get-up-and-go machine has dropped its numbering system. That's because the model is definitely integrated within the Lancer line-up now. Although enthusiasts will always refer to the new Evo by its reference to the evolution of the Evolution. This one is number ten, or if you do as the Romans do, then it will be a "X" in Evo terms.

Evo X comes to Australia in two versions. There is the 'base' version, known simply as Lancer Evolution, which is priced from $59,490 (RRP). It features a 5 speed manual transmission as standard, although a dual clutch automatic is optional. An additional version, known as Lancer Evolution MR (with dual clutch auto as standard), is priced from $71,690 (RRP) and it is the top-of-the-line.

It's this top model, the Lancer Evolution MR, which we test in suburban Melbourne on this occasion.

Covering a quick 282 kms we discovered that our drive was short, rather than fast. But our strictly suburban drive was made appealing because of what we have come to expect from a Mitsubishi Evo ..... the stick like glue ride (which is quite firm), the rocket like acceleration (it's faster than the NSW government dropping infrastructure development), the aggressive appearance and the extraordinary reputation that is the Evo's heritage.

Mitsubishi claim that the new Evo has "blistering" performance. Being 'street based', we do not do time trials. We prefer to report on driveability as it relates to motoring for real people on real roads. But we can confirm that Mitsubishi's claim about the performance is not really a claim ..... it is a distinct fact! And Evo drivers wouldn't want it any other way.

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR (copyright image)

Power comes from an inter-cooled and turbo-charged 2.0-litre DOHC in-line four cylinder motor which features a reinforced cast-aluminium cylinder block. An extraordinary 217 kW of power (at 6,500 rpm) and a massive 366 Nm of torque (at 3,500 rpm) are the statistical highlights.

Yet make no mistake, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR is not perfect. For example there is a 'tinny' effect with the closing of the doors (not good on a car costing over $70,000), no self-locking doors, no auto "up" for the power windows (in fact there is no auto "down" for any window other than the driver's window) and the optional satellite navigation is not so user-friendly for first time users. The turning circle is larger than expected, but we must consider this is an all-wheel drive performance car (not a nimble city commuter car). The only other potential 'misdemeanour' was that we considered that the centre console armrest was set back a little too far (especially for short drivers).

But the attraction of the Evo X is performance. And that's performance with a capital "P". On the road, the accelerator pedal demonstrates that excessive power is readily available. Delight is felt as you promptly determine that you'll never need this type of power in the city.

You'll never walk alone when you drive an Evo. There will always be friends standing by in appreciation of your motoring choice. That's because the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 'stands alone' amongst performance cars!

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