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

Mileage to Date: 19,356Months in Fleet: Eight

April is here and it's time to remove our Mitsubishi Evo's winter rubber in favor of the original-equipment tires, the very sporty Yokohama Advan A13 (245/40R-18 on all four wheels). Unfortunately, upon retrieving the summer tires from our storage room, we discovered that they are well-worn, and two of them are pretty much shot. The wear is especially pronounced on their inner edges. This car must have seen a lot of aggressive on-ramp action during the four months we had it last year (mid-July to mid-November) before we put on the snow tires. The incredible lateral grip the Yokohama tires provide is certainly appreciated by our staff, but it does come at a price. Calling Tire Rack...

Some other issues are harder to rectify. The dashboard constantly squeaks and rattles, there's a lot of wind noise, and the interior flat-out looks cheap. Oh, and this is as good a time as any to remind you that our Evo MR stickers for $41,515, which is well into BMW 335xi territory. Another frequent complaint is the lack of adjustability in the front seats. Some shorter drivers can't see over the steering wheel because the seats lack any vertical adjustment. Hopefully Mitsubishi adds an up/down movement to the driver's seat so those closer to five-feet tall can enjoy the car as much as the six-footers who speak highly of the Recaro buckets.

The debate over the DSG-style transmission is eternal and comments range from "I could do without it." to "It's plenty livable in normal driving." There is, however, almost universal agreement that the ratio for sixth gear should be a bit higher (numerically lower) to allow the engine to spin at a lower rpm on the highway and hopefully bring fuel economy up to the point where it's possible to travel 300 miles on a tank of gas. Calming the engine down might also quiet the cabin by removing the constant buzzing and booming from the car's exhaust. Still, this is an Evo and some like it raw.

When I tried to start the car after work yesterday, it stalled as soon I stopped cranking the ignition (the engine caught, it just died almost immediately). Moreover, this morning, 32 degrees, the car had trouble starting again. This time, I cranked and cranked for several seconds, but it wouldn't start - until I gave it a little gas. Is the Evo carbureted ... ?

I still love the blazingly quick acceleration, particularly for passing, and the fantastic steering (though it's not quite as good as the old Evo's). Installing a child seat in the back was quite easy, too. It's tempting to make an alliterative "family Ferrari" comment here, but I think it's much more accurate to say that the frenetic Evo is a sportbike for the family.

Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor

On paper this car makes almost no sense. It starts at $33,685 (more, as it turns out, than a Camaro SS) and as equipped costs as much as an all-wheel-drive 335i. Oh, and the fuel economy stinks.

Then there's the matter of an interior changed not one whit from the not-very-good Lancer compact, the loud buzzing that you hear and feel at all speeds, and the full-on assortment of rattles.

And I still love it. I hadn't driven the Evo in a few months, and started to think my initial love for it could be written off as it being my first ever press-car experience. Nope. It still puts a grin on my face quite unlike anything else I've driven.

David Zenlea, Assistant Editor

The Evo got a lot of attention at the local Chrysler dealership, where our Four Seasons Town & Country minivan was being serviced. One guy commented on the BBS wheels and I said, yeah, they're hot for sure, and they should be: we had to replace one and it cost about $800! His mouth dropped open in disbelief.

But with those 14-spoke BBS wheels, this is really quite a good-looking ride. I like the car's stance, its proportions, just the way it looks sitting in my driveway. In general, I'm weary of the silver paint that we see on cars everywhere these days, but Mitsubishi's Apex Silver is just perfect for this car, especially with the black interior.

On a day-to-day basis, I have to admit that I just put the Evo in Drive and leave it there. I'm not a big paddle-shifter for runs to the grocery store. The Twin Clutch Sportronic Shift Transmission (TC-SST) ultimately isn't quite as smooth as a conventional automatic, but it's plenty livable in normal driving.

Joe DeMatio, Executive Editor

Of course this is a very fun car to drive; however being in my mid-40s, I feel a little self conscious about driving around in a small foreign sedan with a large wing on the trunk. The wing also reduces visibility out of the rear window, so much so that while driving down I-94 Wednesday night on my way to hockey I did not see the State police cruiser following me at 79 mph until he pulled alongside of me, looked over, rolled his eyes, and then took off. The cruise control saved me this time.

The Evo did fit two hockey bags plus all of our household's recycling for two weeks and was still a blast to drive. With its very stiff suspension and Michigan's spring potholes, I did feel like a kid playing a videogame dodging obstacles. The seats are very stiff and comfortable but I wish they were more adjustable. I like the sound of the exhaust, which together with the shift paddles, adds to the race car feel.

Alan Johnson, Friend of the magazine

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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