Most cars these days try to be good at everything. Your average $30,000 sedan, for instance, accelerates to 60 mph in less than seven seconds, has a really nice interior, and doesn’t use that much fuel. The flip side of this is that very few cars are absolutely great at anything. Which is why it’s refreshing to drive the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo.
The Evo is not trying to please all buyers. It has an econo-car interior that isn’t even acceptable by present econo-car standards. It isn’t all that efficient, achieving only 19 mpg on the EPA combined scale despite its four-cylinder motivation. And even with a more subdued deck-lid spoiler (I actually prefer the full-blown wing), it’s not the sort of car you drive to a job interview. But the rare person who’s willing to put up with all these flaws for his (I could add “or her,” but who are we kidding) $35,000 will be rewarded with unqualified greatness. The Evo’s handling is superb, and so is its steering. Much credit of course goes to the Evo’s all-wheel-drive system, but honestly, it’s more than that. There are plenty of vehicles out there with similarly advanced torque-vectoring setups, but none feel so natural, so transparent. Even the Evo’s power delivery is a uniquely involving affair, with a dearth of torque followed by a fat wallop of boost. Annoying in everyday traffic? Sure. An absolute blast when the road opens up? You bet.
If I were buying an Evo, I’d keep it as cheap and simple as possible: manual transmission (the dual-clutch automatic is smoother than it used to be, but that’s beside the point), cloth seats, an outspoken color, and an obnoxious wing. Let everyone else settle for good -– I’ll happily accept the bad in return for the great.
David Zenlea, Assistant Editor