Perhaps a little too dramatic a subheader for some, but for Mitsubishi it pretty much sums up the importance of this rally-bred sports saloon. More consumers need to recall how good this car was if only to remind them that Mitsubishi can build interesting cars. It is therefore my pleasure to do so here; but first, a few words:
As this Japanese automaker works hard, not to say struggles, to remain relevant in the North American market, it is important to remember what it is that Mitsubishi is capable of doing. Their Outlander and RVR are decent products and are doing well; however, halo cars such as the EVO are the ones that enable light to shine down on a make.
The immanent and well-documented end of the fabled Lancer Evolution is for many a scary thought, and I include myself among those who feel that such a storied (countless rally championships including four in WRC with my buddy Tommi Makinen at the wheel) car needs to live on.
I was informed, by a well-connected source, that the next evolution of the EVO is going to be something different, as in Pajero or compact-CUV based. In my mind’s eye, I see a Land Rover Bowler EXR type vehicle, and if that’s the case then all should be fine -- in time.
In the meantime, the 2014 Mitsubishi Lancer EVO X...
Yes, time can be harsh
Time was kind to the Lancer, first introduced in 2008. Aesthetically, the compact car is handsome and sports very Japanese bodylines. However, the fact that it’s been around for so long with very few updates makes it look old and dated.
The EVO does benefit from deeper bumpers and side skirts, a beefier hood, rear spoiler, and larger wheels. The whole package results in a car that is eye candy for those in the know. Even the ones out of the loop will recognize that the EVO stands out.
The same cannot be said about the cabin. Years ago, I was kind and understanding when I’d accepted that this car was a tool for covering ground slideways and thus a fancy, well laid-out and finished interior was not necessary. In fact, all it needed were supportive seats and a grippy, well-rimmed steering wheel. The EVO has both, but I’m over being forgiving at this point; this car’s passenger quarters are awful.
A great selling point -- that also applies to my beloved WRX STI -- is the fact that the EVO is a four-door sedan with a decent trunk.
The 2014 Mitsubishi Lancer EVO shines especially bright (despite the age) thanks to the way it drives. A more nimble and agile sports sedan I’ve not driven, and I’m comparing it to the WRX STI, Audi S4, and BMW 335i xDrive.
The litheness and pureness of the car’s mechanicals is felt throughout the drive. The non-telescoping steering wheel immediately transmits the front-wheel’s activities. The degree of assistance is perfectly judged, while turn-in is crisp and almost sudden.
The suddenness comes from the well-balanced chassis and tuned suspension. The ride may border on being a little too stiff for many, but the fact is that the EVO is on full alert at all times. Actually, at the flick of the steering wheel, the Lancer will powerslide its way around, and the brilliance of Mitsubishi’s Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC) with active centre differential, yaw control, along with drive mode selector (2WD/4WD/4WD lock) all comes into play.
The EVO demonstrates the definition of rear-steer with alarming ease. The times I’ve tracked this car (Buttonwillow, Tremblant, Monticello) have all resulted in a few apexes being taken with some degree of opposite lock. The thrill and confidence are undeniable.
The 2014 Mitsubishi EVO MR’s turbocharged 291-horsepower 2.0L 4-cylinder engine is a Tasmanian devil in wolf’s clothing. Its 300 lbs of torque rush in and are taken over by the stampede of horses as of 6,500 rpm. Even with the superb 6-speed TC-SST (twin-clutch sportronic shift transmission), the 7,000 rpm redline comes up fast and a shift is required.
Said TC-SST is not only lightning fast, but never misses a beat. Of the older twin-clutch boxes out there, the EVO’s is still one of the best. I repeat: this older car is still one of the best drives at the moment.
Not to be forgotten
As the first of the EVO cars to come to Canada (the US got the 8 and 9 as well), the EVO X will always be near and dear to the hearts of true performance driving enthusiast.
The shoes to be filled by the next generation EVO are huge and I’m very much looking forward to seeing what they come up with. In the meantime, there might still be a new GSR (5-speed) or an MR lying around… The time to buy is now!