Lancer Evolution would be at home on racetrack
Face it, some cars don’t make much sense, except as on-track racers. The 2011 Mitsubishi Evolution MR is one of those.
The test car was a bright metallic blue and the MR is the top-shelf model with all the bells, whistles and techno toggles. That’s why it checked in at $41,995 after adding two $2,000 packages to its $37,195 base price.
That’s a lot of money for a street racer, when you can’t really use all its oomph without attracting the attention of those guys with badges on their shirts.The Lancer Evo looks and is fast. Under the hood is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that generates 291 horsepower. The car features a six-speed automatic twin clutch transmission that allows you to shift it manually or with steering wheel paddle shifters.
The shifts can be abrupt, so the manual shifting can be a relief and could help boost the turbo’s horrendous fuel economy. I got 16.4 mpg, and the car is rated at just 17 mpg city and 22 highway. About half my miles were on the highway. And you can be sure the Evo takes premium.
The upside is that you can rocket onto the freeway or away from a stoplight if you want to get a jump on traffic or just zip around. But you can almost see the gas gauge drop as you do it.
Handling is impressive. The car feels as if it’s glued to the road in corners, even in damp, slippery conditions. There is no lean in the corners, and the Evo feels tight, even though the steering effort is fairly light.
There are three traction choices. There’s normal or Tarmac, along with snow and gravel.
Ride is severe, despite the car being on a 104.3 inch wheelbase. You feel everything; even a small stick in the road gets your attention. Such a ride would be great on a smooth asphalt racetrack, but less so on winter-ravaged streets.
Inside, the car is all about performance. The test car featured racer-like black leather seats with gray stitching, while the dash was black with glossy black plastic trim on dash and doors, plus a black leather steering wheel and shifter with chrome surround. The manual tilt/telescope steering wheel had a brushed metal look hub.
Gauges are simple – just a speedometer and tach, with a trip computer slipped between them. An info button to the left of the gauges gives you access to the computer data.
Seating is low and tight, so getting in and out can be less than pleasant. I’d like to see a pump handle on the seat’s side to raise it an inch or so and flatten out the seat bottom’s angle a bit. Once in the seats, they are snug and comfortable, and you feel ready to rocket away.The seats, including two-speed heat, are part of a $2,000 touring package and replace the fine leather and suede seats in the $2,000 premium package. Other items in those packages include a sunroof, automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers, sound dampening enhancement and a 710-watt premium sound system with nine speakers and 10-inch subwoofer that takes up part of the trunk, leaving just 7 cubic feet of space.
You also get a six CD/MP3 in-dash system and three months worth of Sirius satellite radio.
A standard feature that other cars, and especially trucks, should consider is the adjustable headlights. You can dial them up or down four settings. So in town where there are streetlights you can keep them low to avoid blinding oncoming drivers, but on a darker road you can elevate them for better road vision.
The Lancer Evo may not make much sense, but it’s a lot of fun to drive.