‘Icon’ is an over-used word, but in the case of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, it’s spot-on.
The car that has starred in video games, Hollywood movies and scored countless rally championship wins has brought to Mitsubishi a reputation for high performance technology that has drawn acclaim from all corners of the globe. From the i-MIEV electric car, through the tough Pajero SUV, to the Lancer Evolution is a long line of engineering excellence that stamps Mitsubishi as one of Japan’s success stories.
We’ve previously put the entry-level Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution five-speed manual through its paces - including some memorable hot laps around Melbourne’s Calder Raceway - so when Mitsubishi suggested we try the range-topping MR model with the six-speed twin-clutch automatic transmission, the Car Showroom team raced to get the keys.
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Overview
Raucous 2.0-litre turbocharged engine, computer-controlled all-wheel-drive, six-speed twin-clutch transmission – like the Nissan GTR and Subaru Impreza WRX - the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution is Japanese performance car technology at the cutting edge. With this car you go right to the top of the Totem Pole for street cred.
And – also like the Impreza – the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution is a four-door, so it affords everyday convenience for those who regularly carry passengers.
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Engine
The current ‘CJ’ model Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution was the first to receive the new 4B11T/C version of the now-familiar 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged engine.
Maximum power is 217kW at 6,500rpm and peak torque is 355Nm at 3,500rpm. As performance car enthusiasts know, this is a ‘revvy’ engine with fuel cutout all the way at 7,500rpm.
Compared to earlier models, the current generation Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution provides a wider torque curve, with more torque available at all engine speeds.
It’s a double-overhead camshaft design with four valves per cylinder and an all-alloy block, reinforced for turbocharged power with a semi-closed deck structure, integrated ladder frame and four-bolt main bearing caps.
And unlike earlier models of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, the current model’s stainless steel exhaust manifold is located on the rear of the engine – that means four per cent less weight over the front wheels. The current engine is also 5.3 inches narrower than its predecessor.
Fuel consumption for the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR TC-SST as tested is rated at 10.5l/100kms for the combined cycle (10.2l/100kms for the five-speed manual).
Drive is to all four wheels via Mitsubishi’s high-tech Super All Wheel Control system (S-AWC) with an active center differential. S-AWC offers three driver-selectable traction modes labeled ‘tarmac’, ’snow’ and ‘gravel’.
We tested the MR version of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution with Mitsubishi’s six-speed, twin-clutch Sport Shift automatic transmission (TC-SST). There is a conventional console-mounted gear lever and steering wheel paddle shifters for manual changes.
TC-SST offers three modes – Normal, Sport and S-Sport. As the names suggest, Sport is for sporty driving and S-Sport is recommended only for high performance use such as track days as it keeps the engine turning at higher engine speeds and you feel a noticeable ‘clunk’ when gears are selected.
Within each mode, the driver can also select whether to shift gear manually or use it as a full automatic.
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution The Interior
Over the regular Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, the MR specification adds leather trim (Recaro front seats), satellite navigation and the premium, nine-speaker Rockford Fosgate audio system.
We liked the thick, leather-wrapped steering wheel with simple cruise control buttons and the alloy pedals highlight the performance car interior feel.
Instrumentation is the conventional gauges with the Mitsubishi Multi Communication System/Sat Nav screen mounted high in the center of the dashboard.
Rear seat accommodation is on par with comparable vehicles like the Subaru Impreza.
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Exterior & Styling
‘Subtle’ is not a term you would apply to the looks of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution. With those wide wheel arch flares, massive bootlid wing, low front spoiler and 18-inch BBS alloy wheels, it shows-off its performance car pedigree.
Much like Ford’s Focus RS, the road-going Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution owes its purposeful appearance to development of rally cars – the extra kit isn’t for show, it’s there for a reason (and that adds to its street cred).
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution On The Road
One day during our week with the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution we challenged ourselves to leave the transmission in ‘D’ and drive as a full-on automatic. Well that lasted as long as an election promise!
The allure of the blistering performance and responsiveness of that 2.0-litre turbo and all-paw traction when zipping through ratios with the paddle shifters was too strong a temptation for the Car Showroom team…the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution is that kinda car!
For us, a major reason we enjoy the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution (and the Impreza too) is the opportunity to try the different transmission and chassis settings according to varying conditions – for example a wet road over our high-speed mountain roads loop. It’s driving dynamics from the top shelf.
Apart from that computer-controlled stuff, straight from the world of motor sport, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution runs Bilstein dampers, Eibach springs and massive Brembo brakes.
So it all adds up to a brilliant chassis, remarkable levels of grip and jaw-dropping acceleration. Sure, the best did come when manually shifting the gear ratios.
But back in the humdrum of everyday commutes, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution with its six-speed automatic was as easy to drive…well as easy as a normal Lancer. Against that we should mention the large bootlid spoiler did challenge reverse parking and high gutters weren’t friendly to the low front spoiler.
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Challenges
Like the Subaru Impreza WRX STI, some say an automatic transmission in the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution blunts the experience and defeats the purpose. We acknowledge that point of view, but Mitsubishi and Subaru are in the business of selling cars in volume, so if there’s customers with coin looking to but these cars with self-shifters (and the technology is so good for them)…well you can still but the manual if you’re hard-core.
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Verdict
Our enthusiasm for the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution is unchanged in automatic form – we’d happily have an EVO (auto or manual) in our garage full-time. The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution is a performance car icon because of its technology and Mitsubishi’s six-speed twin-clutch self-shifter is another technology chapter in itself.
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution The Competition
As tested, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR TC-SST is stickered at $74,390.
That’s a bit more than the Subaru Impreza WRX STi spec R, or less than half the price of the range-topping Nissan GTR. We mentioned that to show the range of brilliant Japanese supercars – so if you don’t want to sell your house to get a GTR, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution still provides breathtaking performance, cutting edge technology and top shelf driving dynamics.