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The 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo MR: Getting excited about Mitsubishi again

I recently moved from the suburbs of New York City to work as a summer intern at Automobile Magazine in Ann Arbor, and found myself at a rental car desk upon landing at Detroit Metro Airport earlier this week.

As Sunday night lazily turned to Monday morning, I was engaged in three simultaneous tasks: trying to stay awake, praying I’d get something quick and Japanese, and eavesdropping on the couple next to me who had just walked in. The story was that they were local to Detroit, looking to try something new for Memorial Day weekend. Her husband was “so tired of” the latest Impalas. His flavor of the month? The Mercury Grand Marquis.

“Lord, have mercy,” he said, eyes closed and grinning. “You have any of those?”

The attendant pecked at the keyboard to no avail.

“Can I offer you a Mitsubishi Galant?” she asked.

Puzzled, the man and woman stared blankly back at the attendant, who was trying her hardest not to fall over in the bubbling excitement of the late-night transaction at the airport off-site rental car lot.

“A Galant?” he said. “No way. I haven’t even seen one of those on the road in a long time.”

The attendant rolled her eyes and sighed, clacking away at the keyboard and muttering something to the tune of, “no one seems to want those anymore.”

Flash forward thirty-six hours, and I found myself taking a sweeping curve along an Ann Arbor back road, tightly cocooned by the deep Recaro driver’s seat of the Four Seasons Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR. As the exhaust note bellowed, I peeked out the rear-view mirror to admire, if briefly, the whale-tail spoiler obscuring the scenery from behind. Life, on the first day of the summer internship, was good, thanks to the Evo.

So why is everyone down on Mitsubishi?

They obviously haven’t had much seat time in the Evo.

It’s initially intimidating to open the door to the Lancer with the snarling nose, but once inside, the familiar trappings make the experience slightly more docile. Though it was somewhat perplexing to figure out how to put it in gear, thanks to a metal gear lever clever enough that it required instructions, I managed to cautiously peel out of the parking garage behind the Four Seasons Ram.

One right turn and several traffic lights later, I selected “sport” on the SST, and achieved the posted 50 mph accompanied by the sweet sound of a spooling turbo. Steering feel was spot-on, facilitating the potential to exceed the speed limit effortlessly and unknowingly. I smiled. (How much fun could the drive have been in the Ram?) With my right foot now relaxed, I relished the rest of my short time in the Evo until our caravan met up with the Four Seasons 750Li, and we all piled into the yellow MINI Cooper S convertible.

Standing on line at the sleepy rental agency paled in comparison to the thrill of driving the Evo, even at the mid-range two-digit speeds of Michigan’s B-roads. And isn’t “Driven to Thrill” an old tagline of Mitsubishi’s?

Show five minutes in an Evo to the guy who was going crazy about the Grand Marquis. I’m not sure I’d rent them out, at least not through traditional channels, but it would sure be fun to tick “EVO” the next time I’m traveling and need a car.

Jeffrey Jablansky

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0-60 MPH:

5.2 SECS

EPA MPG:

16 City / 22 Hwy

Safety (IIHS):

Good