This week we’re at the helm of the venerable Evo X, here in MR trim. Normally we’d dive into the particulars of the car, including its 2.0-liter four cylinder motor and its 291 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque and the six-speed dual clutch gearbox our test is equipped with. However, with the imminent demise of Evo looming ahead, we thought we’d share Multimedia Editor Chris Amos’ thoughts after spending a week with the iconic sports sedan.
Though the writing had been on the walls for some time, the announcement earlier this year that the current iteration of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution would be the last was still a bitter pill to swallow. When it finally peels off into that great rally stage in the sky next year, it will leave behind it a giant dirt roostertail of broken hearts and racing heritage behind it, a legacy that began as early as 1973.
Hardcore all-wheel-drive capability makes it a monster on the track. It operates very well when pushed closer and closer to its limits. There’s just so much grip on offer that you are generally at your limits before the car is.
Today, we’ll be doing the same thing. Instead of sports sedans though, we’ll be covering a niche of the small car market. Although cars like the Ford Focus, Chevrolet Cruze, Kia Forte, and Hyundai Elantra cover a large portion of the market, there are certainly buyers that need something a bit more capable.
My fiancé, Molly, is really used to my having a couple of new cars to test out every week and, like anybody, makes a kind of subconscious judgment about each one as soon as she gets inside for the first time. Of course, even for the experienced driver/passenger, sometimes that means you make snap decisions that are dead wrong.
Remember the first car you ever owned? Perhaps it was a hand-me-down from another family member, or maybe you stockpiled some cash from the summer job at the local fast food joint to buy a rusty fixer-upper? Regardless of how it came to your possession, it was your first car, and if you’re a fan of this magazine then odds are you probably did something to it that—at least in your mind— made it better. Perhaps you went for a set of wheels or a loud stereo, or if you had delusions of mechanical ability as young car owners often do, you probably hacked up the exhaust in the name of less backpressure. And then there’s the favorite pastime of fabricating a cold air induction system from dryer ducting and zip ties procured from the local hardware store. You did that? Yeah, us too.
The last time we had a Ralliart – a sedan – I was quite charmed. The Ralliart has a fun level of power, a well-controlled suspension, and one of the best ATM transmissions around (which Mitsubishi calls SST – a dual clutch system). As a mini-Evo for those who want SST and don’t have the coin for the big hitter, it seemed like a very attractive package. I did feel that power was a smidge lower than one might want, as was grip on the street.
I like the Lancer GTS sedan, and I really like the Lancer Sportback Ralliart, so the prospect of having the more useful five-door body style, with a slightly less potent motor seems like a good idea. In actuality though, this car never really came together for me as a complete package.
We recently had the opportunity to drive the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California, courtesy of Jim Russell Racing Drivers School. Our instructor was the hilarious and talented Paul Gerrard, who, besides knowing a thing or two about bending an Evo around a track, is able to eloquently and anecdotally describe the high-cost addiction that is racing (if you meet him, ask him about the driver who funded his automotive lust by robbing banks). Your author, never having driven a track on par with the famed course formerly known as Sears Point, was understandably thrilled at this opportunity.
We just took delivery of a slightly frostbitten Evo today. We will see just how enjoyable 291 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque is on our freshly snow covered roads. This is the MR Touring and is supposed to be more tolerable on a day to day basis compared to the other members of the Evolution family.
We’re just back from a day of participation in what Mitsubishi called its Lancer Family Road Show, where the main event was our debut drive in the new center of the range, the 2009 Lancer Ralliart.