- Porsche-like performance on tap for a fraction of the price
- Exterior styling looks at once both sophisticated and brash
- Go-kart-like steering response
- The din inside the cabin on rough pavement surfaces
- Quick steering not friendly for high-speed cruising
- Econobox interior only slightly disguised
The 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution maintains the scorching acceleration and tenacious grip of its predecessor, gains a little more finesse, and does it with much more handsome styling. But beware: It still feels like a tuner car.
The 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution is a high-performance sport sedan with hopped-up performance to rival (and beat) that of many flashy sports coupes. The Evolution is an entirely different car than the plebeian Mitsubishi Lancer on which it's based, with an enhanced body structure and many of the steel body panels replaced with lightweight aluminum ones.
A 291-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine powers the 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo. A five-speed manual is standard, but a six-speed automated manual is available; it allows manual gear selection through paddle shifters alongside the steering wheel or in automatic mode. There's also an S-sport mode for maximum performance. An array of sophisticated systems--including Super Wheel Control, an Active Center Differential, helical gear front differential, and Active Yaw Control--all combine to give catlike agility and incredible tractability. The MR is an especially high-performance package that ranks above the base GSR and adds track-ready Bilstein shocks and Eibach springs.
The 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution lives up to its tuner-tweaker reputation on the road, with very sharp, quick steering, along with quite a bit of engine noise, as well as some whistle and hiss of the turbo wastegate. There's a bit of turbo lag--a delay for power to be delivered--but the engine is quick to wind up and especially enjoyable with the flawless automated manual transmission. Stout brakes round out the package.
The interior is remarkably similar to that of the Lancer, a car that starts around $14,000 (less than half the Evo's price), which is to say a bit cheap-feeling for a car that's well into the thirties. But a sportier front-seat design helps hold you in place, some improved trim helps cheer it up, and the backseat is actually spacious enough for small adults. The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution's ride is reasonably smooth, but the cabin can be very loud--especially on coarse pavement.
The 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution has not yet been crash tested, but the Lancer on which it's heavily based got an equal mix of four- and five-star results in the federal government's tests and Good ratings from the IIHS in both frontal offset and rear tests. Electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, head-curtain side airbags, front-seat mounted side bags, and a driver knee airbag are all on the standard-features list.