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Thread: 2009 Mitsubishi EVO MR

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    2009 Mitsubishi EVO MR

    The Mitsubishi EVO began life as a quickly hashed-together, hopped-up economy car. Like a bottled blond, its lowly Lancer roots showed through sometimes - but overall, the car packed one hell of a punch for not too much money.

    Today's EVO has become a separate model in its own right - not just an optional equipment package on the Lancer. It is vastly more sophisticated now - and even faster than the original. But the price has gone up accordingly - $38,290 for the MR with the new dual-clutch automatic* transmission.

    That means it's no longer an alternative to pricey performance cars. It is a pricey performance car in is own right - in particular, the pushing $40k MR version.

    Which means it must be judged on equal terms with similarly expensive cars.

    WHAT IT IS

    The EVO is a high-performance compact 4-5 passenger sedan with a turbocharged, intercooled four-cylinder engine and a standard all-wheel-drive system.

    It comes in GSR ($32,990) and MR ($38,290) versions. Primary competition has traditionally been the functionally similar Subaru WRX STi - but the EVO's escalating price range has kicked it up the food chain to the point where it is now in the same league as prestige brand AWD performance sedans like the BMW 330i xDrive ($42,000) and Audi A4 3.2 Quattro ($40,000).

    Moreover - and ironically - the EVO's current pricing structure has turned the tables completely, transforming established performance cars like the V-8 powered, 315 hp 2010 Ford Mustang GT ($27,995) into the "bargain alternative" for those looking to go fast on a budget.

    WHAT'S GOOD

    Cornering grip that's tighter than Darth Vader's chokehold; a 0-60 time that will humiliate most '60s V-8 muscle cars. Room for five.

    WHAT'S NOT SO GOOD

    If you are over 30 you will look silly driving one. Getting up there price tag.

    WHAT'S NEW

    The EVO is no longer a "tuned up" version of the Lancer econo-box but a separate model in its own right. It's possible a new Sportback (wagon) version of the EVO will be released in 2010, which would give the EVO an answer to the wagon-only Subaru WRX STi.

    ENGINES & PERFORMANCE

    The EVO is the modern-era equivalent of what a Pontiac GTO Judge was back in the late '60s - a thinly disguised street racer, built to turn heads, burn rubber and rack up tickets. Under the EVO's scooped hood is one of the most powerful four-cylinder engines ever put into a street car. Though displacing just 2.0 liters, this DOHC, turbocharged and intercooled engine pounds out 291 hp.

    To appreciate that figure, consider the current Chevy Corvette's 6.2 liter V-8. It produces 430 horsepower - which is very impressive. But the 'Vette's engine is also more than three times as large - with twice the number of cylinders. In other words, three EVO fours (six liters' worth of displacement) would generate a total of 873 horsepower -* or more than twice the output of the Corvette's V-8 from the same amount of engine displacement.

    The EVO's four also produces plenty of torque - something not many engines this small (such as the Honda S2000's four) manage. A solid 300 ft.-lbs. is available at 4,000 RPM - which gives the car both bottom end grunt on top of its high RPM power (which peaks at* 6,500 RPM).

    This car is extremely quick, capable of 0-60 runs in the 4.9 second range - with a top end well over 140 mph.*

    The GSR comes standard with a conventional five-speed manual transmission; the MR version features Mitsubishi's new twin-clutch six-speed automatic, which offers the speed shifting capability of a manual with the ease of use of a conventional* *automatic.

    Both versions come standard with a driver adjustable AWD system with multiple modes (Tarmac, Gravel and Snow) designed for hooligan street driving and fully capable of weekend track day duty.* On a skidpad, the EVO can pull nearly 1 full "g" of lateral acceleration - which means its grip in a high-speed corner is supercar tenacious.

    DRIVING IMPRESSIONS/RIDE & HANDLING

    The EVO is a hard-riding beast, even the supposedly "softer" MR version. Serious enthusiast drivers will love it; if you're not - or you're older and your back's not what it used to be - occupying the EVO for more than an hour at a time is a kind of automotive Abu Ghraib.*

    While there are lots of cars out there with big wings bolted to the trunk and the pretty boy strut of the "Fast & Furious," the EVO's one of the few that's as serious as an old Marine's thousand yard stare about function - and that includes reducing body lean to nothing, even if means the thing rides like a Nextel Cup stocker.

    Which it does.

    But it's also one of the few street cars that probably could outhandle a Nextel Cup stocker, too.

    To get a sense of how serious this car is, note the little sticker on the driver's side door - which warns you to expect a short service life out of the 18 inch ultra-performance "summer" tires - and that you ought to consider swapping them out for something more reasonable if you plan to drive the thing in winter weather.* *

    The standard Recaro sport buckets are also firmer than poured concrete - but they are extremely supportive during high-speed cornering.

    Compared with previous EVOs, this newest model is, however, much more comfortable at very high speeds (100 plus). The older versions - which were after-the-fact juiced-up versions of the pre-existing Lancer economy car and not purpose-built for extreme performance, as this new EVO is - tended to get darty over 80 mph, requiring both hands on the wheel (and frequent little course corrections). The '09, in contrast, is perfectly composed at speeds that will get you locked up if caught.* *

    If they can catch you.

    I spent a week in the MR with the dual-clutch automatic and while this transmission cannot be faulted objectively (it delivers extremely sharp, perfectly timed gear changes and is probably much faster than I am, as well as more consistent) I still very much prefer the old-fashioned five-speed manual with a clutch that I control in the GSR.

    If you're racing for money, ok - I see the merit of the dual-clutch auto. In that case, all that matters is being the quickest and the most consistently quick, by whatever means necessary.

    But if you're driving for fun - and isn't that what a street performance car is all about? - then you miss not being able to handle the clutchwork for your own self. It is part of the experience and without it, acceleration becomes passive and clinical. You push down on the gas pedal, point the car in the right direction - and that's it.

    With the dual-clutch automatic, you're more passenger than driver.

    The other thing is price. Mitsubishi wants $38,290 for the MR with the dual-clutch automatic - which is nearly six grand more than the GSR with the 5-speed. That is a lot of money to pay to give away one of the most enjoyable aspects of owning a high-performance car. Also, the MR's pushing $40k price puts this car perilously close to BMW, Audi, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz land.

    $40k for a Mitsubishi?

    I dunno... .

    STYLING & UTILITY

    As a sedan, the 5-passenger capable EVO is a lot more doable as a daily-driver than any two-door coupe - one of the biggest draws of four-door performance cars. Trunk space - at just under 7 cubic feet - is vastly less than the Subaru WRX STi's big-car sized 19 cubic feet (44 cubic feet with the second row seats folded) but that's due to the STi's wagon layout. However, the fact that the STi is a wagon - and a wagon only - may be a downside for those who'd rather have a small trunk and a sedan than a lot of cargo space and a wagon body.

    Like the STi, the EVO's AWD system, though set up primarily for high-performance driving and high-speed handling, gives the Mitsu an edge in rainy/wintry weather - at least, compared with rear-drive performance cars, which are much worse than average on wet/snow-slicked roads.

    Styling is as obstreperous as a 250 pound drunk. Huge airfoil on the decklid (the MR gets an even bigger one), glowering front end treatment with massive intercooler clearly showing behind the grille, huge - and red powder coated - Brembo brake calipers clearly visible on each corner. You can't miss this car - or mistake its intent. That is what the younger crowd that buys cars like the EVO wants - but it's a mixed bag, if you're old enough to know that owning a performance car gets less and less enjoyable the more visible it is to cops who seem to get a special kick out of ticketing drivers of cars like the EVO for doing 38 mph in a 35 zone.

    That gets old quickly.

    It would be great if Mitsubishi offered a "delete" package that left off the calling-all-cops wing and toned down the exterior manifestations of the high-performance that lies underneath - as Ford does with the Mustang GT, which can be ordered without a hood scoop, rear spoiler and so on - so that it looks to the casual observer just* like a regular V-6 rental car special.* *

    Viva the Plain Brown Wrapper, sez me.

    QUALITY & SAFETY

    The EVO's roster of standard safety equipment (and crash test performance) is more than up to snuff for a car of this type, compared with others in its class. It even comes with a driver's side knee air bag - which is surprising at first until you reflect that the EVO has become a pricey car and so must offer the kind of equipment one expects to find in a car that can push $40,000.

    Quality (or the history thereof) is the car's main weak point - Mitsubishi's, too. Earlier EVOs tended not to live as long as Subaru WRXs. Mitsubishi itself has had more than the average number of problems with its cars, too - some minor,* some major.

    The current EVO is all-new, and one of the specific things addressed by the engineers was to build a ground-up new high-performance car instead of taking an existing econo-box (the Lancer) and hot-rodding the thing. So, the new EVO should be a better bet than previous ones. But Subaru - and the WRX STi - still enjoy the better rep for quality and durability.

    THE BOTTOM LINE

    The only car on the market that offers anything directly in competition with the Mitsu AWD system and high-pressure turbo four is the Subaru WRX STi. Both cars offer a very similar driving experience and comparable power/performance. However, the Subaru is currently offered only in wagon form - and you may not want a wagon.

    The GSR version of the EVO ($32,990) is also about two grand less than the least expensive version of the STi ($34,995), a not-small chunk of change.

    So, bang for the buck-wise, the EVO (the GSR version, anyhow) is still hard to beat - because it can beat the paint off just about any performance car - sedan or coupe - priced anywhere near it.

    Just remember that the Eyes of the Law will be upon you.

  2. #2
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    I may look silly driving this, but with this price tag, I bet the demographic will change!

    BTW, something is wrong with log-in on your website. It would not let me in and I was forced to re-register. It may explain the few posts you are getting these days.

  3. #3
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gareebee View Post
    I may look silly driving this, but with this price tag, I bet the demographic will change!

    BTW, something is wrong with log-in on your website. It would not let me in and I was forced to re-register. It may explain the few posts you are getting these days.

    I will check into it - thanks for the heads up~

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