This week’s Wednesday Walkaround takes a look at the hot little Evolution GSR from Mitsubishi, one of my favorite cars to drive.
Here is my review:
Some weeks it is difficult for me to determine just how well the latest automotive entry will be received by the general public. Other weeks I just count how many people stop by the house to see what is sitting in the driveway.
The latter has been one of those weeks as I tested the newest Evolution rally racer from Mitsubishi.
Built on the next-generation Lancer platform (of which we also drove the new GTS sedan model), the 2008 “Evo” has had many admirers during my time behind the wheel. And about the only disappointments delivered has been to the little tuner Hondas that keep pulling alongside seeking to induce a little “extra-curricular activity” on the street.
Sorry, Charlie. Take your obnoxious fat pipe exhaust and come back and see me when you (and your car) mature a bit.
For 2008, Mitsubishi offers the new Evolution in two versions – GSR and MR. We recently spent a week behind the wheel of the more sedate GSR version.
“The high-performance engine, sports car handling dynamics and striking design of the 2008 Lancer Evolution will appeal to enthusiasts worldwide – for those who desire a daily driver with street credentials as well as those planning weekend track action,” said Dan Kuhnert, vice president for marketing and sales, Mitsubishi Motors North America.
The 2008 Lancer Evolution is the newest and most sophisticated version of the legendary high-performance model series that began 16 years ago. While remaining true to the core values that have made the Lancer Evolution synonymous with thrilling performance, the next-generation model offers all-around capability and user technology that distinguish the world’s best performance models.
The strikingly-styled 2008 Evo showcases new performance and handling technology, including an all-new 291hp 2.0-liter turbocharged/intercooled I-4 engine and the Super-All Wheel Control dynamic handling system. S-AWC offers an extraordinary level of control at each wheel, going well beyond the capabilities of other all-wheel-drive systems.
Evo models embody the spirit of world rally cars and are the direct competition for Subaru’s WRX STI street tuners. In fact, these cars are so complete from the factory that one could literally drive it off the dealer’s lot and onto a race course.
Our GSR tester sends its power through a five-speed manual gearbox while the MR versions get a six-speed twin-clutch Sportronic shift gearbox, a new-generation automated manual transmission complete with steering-wheel mounted shift paddles.
Getting the power to the pavement is another area of significant accomplishment in the new Evo.
S-AWC regulates drive torque at each wheel by controlling a network of dynamic handling technologies, including: Active Center Differential four-wheel drive, Active Yaw Control rear differential, Active Stability Control and Sports ABS brakes. Integration of ASC is new for all markets and also provides a significant advance in both dynamic capability and safety.
Drivers can fine-tune S-AWC via a switch on the steering wheel to one of three settings – tarmac, gravel or snow – that most closely matches driving conditions.
While never making it out to the track, I did get to push the Evo a bit while spinning our wheels on some of Texas’ great backcountry roads. When the turbo hits the powerband, you definitely know it.
Something we discovered just as impressive as the throttle response is the under-stated fuel economy on the window sticker. While rated at 22 mpg highway we saw nearly 24 in our travels – with the AC running. Sweet.
Highlights of the performance and handling lineup include twin-scroll turbocharger with intercooler, S-AWC, Brembo ventilated disc brakes with ABS and electronic brakeforce distribution, front strut tower bar, rear air diffuser, rear-mounted battery for improved weight balance, inverted front shocks, front helical limited-slip differential, rear limited-slip differential and front and rear stabilizer bars.
And let us not forget the high-performance Yokohama tires mounted on 18-inch alloy wheels.
Flared fenders and rear decklid spoiler provide aesthetic as well as performance functions and the Evo’s roof panel, front fenders and hood are all made of aluminum for weight reduction.
Inside we find a leather sport steering wheel, leather shift knob, Recaro front sport seats (now with side impact airbags), multi-information display and our tester came loaded with the Sight, Sound and Spoiler package that adds a 650-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system, SIRIUS Satellite radio and larger rear spoiler. We also enjoyed the new Hard Disk Drive indash navigation system.
The Evolution models from Mitsubishi are built with a specific purpose in mind – a factory model bred of rally car lineage whose good looks are backed up with performance.
Pricing begins at $32,990 with our loaded tester coming in at just over 38 grand.
For those not as serious about their driving but still wishing for a decent import model with sporty styling and modest amenities, Mitsubishi offers the base Lancer lineup.
Our GTS tester in electric blue did not find us embarrassed to be seen in – far from it. Powered by the MIVEC 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine backed by new CVT gearbox (with paddle shifters), the Lancer GTS still offers plenty of driving excitement for today’s roadways while delivering 22 mpg in town and 29 mpg on the highway.
And with a power sunroof and killer sound system, it can be had for around 20 grand.