2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR - Four Seasons Update - June 2009

Months in Fleet: 10Mileage to Date: 25,000

Our affair with a 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution continues to run the gamut. One staffer piles on praise for the handling and suspension tuning, then another comes along and complains the car feels like it's falling apart and costs far too much. Though cars like an Evo aren't supposed to be for everyone, the range of comments it elicits is pretty entertaining.

Here's Web producer Evan McCausland, who's spent a lot of time in the Evo and a few nights in our Four Seasons 2010 Nissan GT-R: "I know the Evo MR is still wicked fast and a blast to drive, but what used to feel like neck-snapping acceleration feels rather sedate, now that I've driven the GT-R (and, no, I didn't play with the GT-R's launch control)."

I, too, thought the Evo was starting to feel a bit pedestrian, until I looked at the speedometer and noticed I was going far too fast for a public road. I then scribbled the following in our logbook, "God help us if cars like the Evo start to feel sedate or mundane. Maybe we need to spend some time in a Chevy Aveo to recalibrate our sense of sedate."

Senior editor Joe Lorio explained the Evo best: "Many have complained about the Evo's humble, Lancer origins, but I think that's part of the charm of a car like this. The Evo, and its ilk, are the muscle cars of today. Like those '60s machines based on bare-bones Tempests, Belvederes, and Chevelles, this Mitsubishi spends ALL its money and effort on performance, and nothing, really, on comfort, convenience, or even styling." That formula works for Lorio, but he acknowledges that not everyone will feel the same way: "Will most people prefer a BMW 335i? Absolutely. But I wouldn't want the Evo to become one."

New associate editor Eric Tingwall spent a few nights in the Evo, a car he hadn't driven since he was an intern with us last summer, and he quickly remembered how the tricky throttle/clutch interaction dampens low-speed maneuvers: "It's especially bad when backing out of a parking space. I'd find myself jumping into the car, throwing it into reverse and then nervously feathering the throttle, as it took me forever to back out."

We just dropped the Evo at the dealer awaiting new transmission fluid to see if that improves the response from the transmission while accelerating from a stop. The dealer needed to order transmission fluid. A service rep also questioned our choice to swap the fluid before the 30,000-mile interval specified in the owner's manual, but we assured him the 25,000 miles we have accumulated were anything but easy on the car and fluid. We will know soon whether the fluid makes as big a difference as we've been told to expect.

2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR

Base Price: $38,965As Tested: $41,515

Overview: Body Style: 4-door sedanAccommodation: 5 passengerConstruction: Steel unibody

Powertrain: Engine: DOHC 16-valve turbocharged I-4Displacement: 2.0 litersPower: 291 hp @ 6500 rpmTorque: 300 lb-ft @ 4400 rpmTransmission: 6-speed dual-clutch semi-automaticDrive: All-wheelFuel Economy: 17/22/19 (city/highway/combined)

Chassis: Steering: Power rack-and-pinionTurns lock-to-lock: 2.27Turning Circle: 38.7 ftSuspension, Front: Strut-type, coil springSuspension, Rear: Multi-link, coil-springBrakes, F/R: Ventilated disc, two-piece rotor/ventilated disc; ABSWheels: 18 x 8.5 in BBS forged alloyTires: Yokohama ADVANTire size: 245/40YR-18

Measurements: Headroom F/R: 40.6/36.9 inLegroom F/R: 42.3/33.3 inShoulder room F/R: 54.7/54.3 inWheelbase: 104.3 inTrack F/R: 60.8/60.8 inL x W x H: 177 x 71.3 x 58.3 inCargo Capacity: 6.9 cu ftWeight: 3594 lbWeight Dist. F/R: 57.4/42.6%Fuel Capacity: 14.5 gallonsEst. Range: 275 milesFuel Grade: 91 octane

Standard EquipmentABS and ESPFront, side, side curtain, and knee airbagsTire Pressure Monitoring SystemFront and rear limited slip DifferentialsActive center differentialBluetooth handsfree communicationAutomatic A/CCruise ControlRecaro front sports seatsHID headlights

Options: Technology Package, $2550   Navigation with 30 GB hard drive   650-watt Rockford-Fosgate 9-speaker sound system with subwoofer   Sirius satellite radio

Test Results: 0-60 MPH: 5.3sec0-100 MPH: 14.4 sec1/4-Mile: 14.1 @ 99 mph30-70 Passing: 6.3 secSpeed in Gears: 1) 45; 2) 82; 3) 108; 4) 100; 5) 100 mphCornering L/R: 0.97/0.96 g70-0 Braking: 156 ftPeak Braking: 1.06

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