2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution / Ralliart

7.8
2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution / Ralliart

The Basics:

TheCarConnection.com consulted all the best reviews on the new Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution to produce this comprehensive review of the new Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution. TheCarConnection.com’s editors also drove the Lancer Evolution so that they could add their expert insight where needed.

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.

The 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer is a basic but sporty sedan with some tech features not often offered in this class.

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.

Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com generally praise the Lancer Evolution's exterior styling, but some minor gripes arise with the interior.

The 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X features all-new styling that is slightly more mature than previous models, but it still gives the impression of a seriously capable performance car. 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.

Working from the outside on in, ConsumerGuide comments that the 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X "is aimed at a broader, more upscale audience," which explains why Mitsubishi did away with the old Lancer Evolution's enormous rear wing and semi-circular hood scoop. ConsumerGuide also appreciates the inclusion of "the proper interior 'go-fast' pieces," including "leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob." The 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X does come with a more subdued spoiler on the back, and Road & Track approves of the "vents on the hood suggesting something wonderfully wicked resides underneath." The car's front end also draws comparisons to a shark's mouth from several reviewers.

After admiring the well-modeled and aggressive exterior styling on the 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, drivers might be slightly disappointed by the interior styling. While there are no glaring deficiencies inside, ConsumerGuide laments the "unconvincing 'aluminum' finish" and lack of "anything dressy or upscale about the interior." Automobile says, "The interior no longer reeks of Play-skool technology," though.

TheCarConnection.com has had extensive driving time in the 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X, and appreciates the styling of its sheetmetal far more than its cabin. The body quite clearly looks like a hopped-up sedan—but the dash and interior panels still appear as if nothing dramatic has happened, save for a large spot in the center of the dash reserved for the optional navigation system.

The 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution's calling card has always been its gut-wrenching performance, and the 2008 version, known by serious performance enthusiasts as the Evolution X (that's Roman numeral 10), certainly lives up to its predecessors on the track.

A 291-hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine powers the 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X. 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.

Although slightly slower to accelerate than the outgoing Lancer Evolution model, thanks largely to the additional 300 pounds of body fat it carries, the 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X is still a very potent performance machine. What the Lancer Evolution lacks in straight-line acceleration (if you can even call it "lacking"--the car still runs from 0-60 in five seconds flat, and ConsumerGuide feels it "will pin you in your seat"), it more than makes up for with its handling.

The feature that draws the greatest praise on the 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X is the fantastic new semi-automatic transmission on the MR. The software behind the automatic's gear selection is so good that Motor Trend claims, "the Evo has the best version of this kind of transmission to date," and finds that it "always seems to be in the right gear." Automobile seconds that verdict, noting "the various clutch packs, differentials, and hydraulic pumps work seamlessly to make you look heroic."

TheCarConnection.com finds that reviewers simply can't say enough about all the performance features that make their debut on the 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X. Standard on both the GSR and MR trim levels is Mitsubishi's Active Yaw Control system, which Road & Track says "makes the Evo X one of the best-handling sports sedans in the world." Motor Trend also praises the car's exceptional road-gripping abilities, saying, "the action is light, accurate, and unnervingly fast at first."

Comfort and quality are not the biggest selling points on the new 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, but neither are they going to send many car enthusiasts looking elsewhere.

When first sitting in the 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X, drivers and front passengers will notice that Recaro racing seats provide excellent comfort and support. They do little, however, to atone for the lack of other basic comfort features. Motor Trend notes that "the stiff chassis tuning and lack of sound-deadening lay siege to the senses," and many reviewers find the car to be very unforgiving on long drives.

On the track or over smooth roads, comfort is not as much of an issue, but the 2008 Lancer Evolution will rattle constantly on anything other than pristine pavement. Despite this, reviewers at Motor Trend still feel willing to "give up a better interior for a car that...performs better, looks better, and has a distinct personality."

Interior quality was panned by some reviewers. ConsumerGuide takes exception with the "grained hard plastic bathing virtually every interior surface." TheCarConnection.com did notice that Mitsubishi has made great strides from the old Lancer Evolution, and Automobile praises certain parts of the interior as having "gone decidedly upmarket."

TheCarConnection.com’s racetrack and on-road experience in the 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X is similar to that of other publications. 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 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution's ride is reasonably smooth, but the cabin can be very loud--especially on coarse pavement.

TheCarConnection.com found that reviewers are satisfied with the 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution's safety features, but crash testing has not been completed.

Many of the 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution's safety features are designed to keep you out of trouble in the first place, like the aforementioned stability control systems and the standard anti-lock brakes. Should these measures not prove enough, however, and you find yourself in an accident, you can take comfort in the Evolution's very respectable safety ratings.

While the 2008 Evolution represents a marked improvement in safety features over the outgoing model, it simply doesn't have any groundbreaking safety features or other standouts in the category to warrant a higher rating. Mother Proof approves of the Lancer Evolution's "comprehensive standard safety package that includes seven airbags." Also making the list of noted safety features is Mitsubishi's Super-All Wheel Control system, which Road & Track says, "combines all of the car's electronic sensors to maximize safety during hazardous driving conditions."

The 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X 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.

The 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X has a long list of high-tech features, and it doesn't skimp on interior features.

The two most widely acclaimed interior features are the Evolution's optional 650-watt Rockford Fosgate sound system, which also includes a 10-inch subwoofer, and the optional navigation system. ConsumerGuide doesn't hesitate to point out that the navigation system "absorbs the audio controls, complicating their use." However, they also acknowledge that their critique "is admittedly nit picking, and in all fairness, most other navigation systems are equally annoying."

Kelley Blue Book feels that, among other options, the "most desirable options include a...hard drive-based navigation and audio system."

Buying Tips:


The 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution's sophisticated all-wheel-drive system makes it a true four-season vehicle. But if you plan to drive the Lancer Evolution year-round, to get the most out of the experience, you might want to budget enough from the start to keep two sets of tires: sticky summer performance ones for dry-weather touring and track days, and more conservative all-season treads for the rest of the year.

Other Choices:

  • 2008 Dodge Caliber

Reason Why:

The Dodge Caliber SRT4 is much cheaper than the 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution or any of its competitors, but the SRT4 only has front-wheel drive, and its drivability is notably inferior. At the opposite end of the scale, the BMW 135i is a coupe and has a more mature presence and driving experience than the others. The primary competitor to the Evo is really the Subaru WRX STi; and for those who play by the numbers, the STi might be a little bit faster. The new STi is more refined and comfortable inside than the Evolution, and the Subaru's interior materials feel of a higher quality. The Evo has one up on the WRX STi, though: an available automated manual transmission, which can take a lot of the pain out of creeping along in traffic. But the Impreza, on which the STi is based, might have an edge in safety--it's been named an IIHS Top Safety Pick for 2008.

The Bottom Line:

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.

Research Other Topics

7.8
on a scale of 1 to 10
Styling
8.0
Expert Rating
Performance
7.0
Expert Rating
Comfort & Quality
7.0
Expert Rating
Safety
8.0
Expert Rating
Features
9.0
Expert Rating
Looking for other models of the Mitsubishi Lancer?
Read reviews & get prices
Compare the 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer against the competition
  • 2008 Nissan Sentra

    7.8
    Compare Cars
  • Compare Cars
Compare All Cars