2003 Mitsubishi Lancer Review

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Marc K. Stengel Marc K. Stengel Editor
February 28, 2003
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How is one supposed to deport oneself in the presence of a force of nature? For that, surely, was what I confronted last week in New Orleans as the 2003 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution sport sedan made its debut before a throng of jaded journalists. With bolts of lightning searing the sky and torrents of water gushing forth, flooding highways and pelting reporters, the Mitsubishi Evo strode forth majestically and dominated the landscape.

The effect was positively Shakespearean, and it put me in mind of the memorable parry between Glendower and Hotspur in Act Three of Henry IV, Part 1:

GLENDOWER: I say the earth did shake when I was born.

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HOTSPUR: And I say the earth was not of my mind,

If you suppose as fearing you it shook.

GLENDOWER: The heavens were all on fire; the earth did tremble. ... I can call spirits from the vasty deep.

HOTSPUR: Why, so can I, or so can any man,

But will they come when you do call for them?

Where the Evo’s spirits are concerned, I can attest that they most assuredly did come when called. This is not the common run of car, you see. It is the raging, scarcely civilized version of one of the most dominating actors on the world rally car stage. Far from obscuring its prowess, New Orleans’ February monsoon did instead showcase the Evo’s uncanny knack for distributing 271 turbocharged horsepower through four wheels in deplorable conditions. The effect was positively exhilarating.

Misleading badges

Don’t let the “Lancer” badge mislead you, by the way. Although the Evo uses the platform otherwise devoted to Mitsubishi’s humble and forgettable commuter compact, any resemblance between the two ends precisely there. It’s important to understand that the Evo is actually a means to an end for Mitsubishi’s rally racing ambitions. According to rules promulgated by the august Fédération International de l’Automobile, all vehicles in certain World Rally Championship (WRC) classes must be homologated — that is, they must be manufactured in sufficient numbers with street-legal raiment and for public consumption. The result, in this case, is the Lancer Evolution VII, the seventh in a winning series of Mitsubishi’s production-based rally racers.

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