Mitsubishi Evolution MR

Written By nyit on Friday, April 15, 2011 | 3:40 AM

Things have been rather quiet at Mitsubishi in these times of economic turmoil. The folks at the diamond-star brand seem to be battening down the hatches and weathering the storm by keeping a relatively low profile. Apart from some mention of possible upcoming electric cars, Mitsubishi hasn’t been in the news much at all this year, in fact.

Nevertheless, the cars are still on the streets, and they’re worth meeting. I coaxed an Evolution MR out of hiding for a quick road test. And with the Evolution MR, pretty much everything is “quick.”

Things haven’t changed much since 2008, when the Lancer lineup was last redesigned. The tenth-generation Lancer’s Evolution’s face is striking, with a forward-thrust snout and a grille that drops deep into the bumper, flanked by angry headlamps. If the layout reminds you of a fighter jet, that’s a good thing; it’s what Mitsubishi intended. The fenders are widened to cover larger eighteen-inch wheels, and the Evolution’s signature tall spoiler and comb-like rooftop aerodynamic management fins are in place. The scoops and vents in the aluminum hood are functional; they feed air to the turbocharger and extract hot air from the engine compartment, respectively. High-intensity discharge headlamps are standard.

The interior as businesslike, if your business is driving. Heavily bolstered seats speak of the Evolution’s rally-racing heritage. The instrument panel has a more integrated look than years past, which mashed racing elements with standard trim elements in a way that seemed haphazard. The Evolution MR includes Bluetooth connectivity and a remoted keyless entry. Opt for the “Sight, Sound and Spoiler” Package, and a 710-watt Rockford Fosgate sound system, Sirius Satellite radio, navigation system and Mitsubishi’s FAST Key, a passive-unlocking system that enables the car to be opened and started as long as the remote is in the driver’s pocket.

A 2.0 liter engine that’s been turbocharged to within an inch of its life resides under the hood. The Lancer Evolution’s DOHC four-cylinder produces 291 horsepower and is equipped with Mitsubishi’s MIVEC variable valve timing. Torque peaks at an impressive 300. Power comes on almost instantaneously, and the Evolution MR is nothing if not quick to respond to the throttle. New for 2009 is the Twin-Clutch Sportronic Shift (SST) transmission, which is standard on the Evolution MR. Like Volkswagen’s DSG, the Twin-Clutch SST is more of a clutchless manual than a selectable automatic, and it bangs off wish-quick shifts with a competition-oriented feel. The transmission puts the power to all four wheels in driver-selectable Normal, Sport and S-Sport modes. S-sport is the track mode, which downshifts automatically when braking hard for a corner, and selects the proper exiting gear based on speed.

The Evolution MR’s all-wheel drive also has a very Japanese-sounding name: Super All-Wheel Control. The system sports an active center differential and active yaw control. As with any self-respecting race car, the car’s component list is full of familiar names.

The suspension is somewhat exotic as well. Inverted struts are used up front, and the Evolution sports Eibach springs and Bilstein shock absorbers at all four corners. BBS provides the wheels; Yokohama the 245/40-series tires. The standard anti-lock brakes are track-engineered as well, with lightweight two-piece rotors and four-piston calipers in the front.

The Evolution MR is frenetic and fast with the S-Sport setting engaged, and its razor-sharp reflexes and rock-hard suspension are right at home on the track. So why don’t I love it more? I honestly haven’t been able to work that out, so it must be a personal thing. The Evolution MR offers world-class automotive entertainment as well as all-wheel drive stability, though the price and its hard-edged performance render it a plaything for all but the hard-core lunatic fringe who want to commute in a thinly-disguised race car. The bottom line reflects this: Evolution MR pricing starts at a hard-core $38,990.

By Chris Jackson


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