Mitsubishi Evo vs Nissan GT-R

1 September 2011

Mitsubishi Evo vs Nissan GT-R

Value

Mitsubishi Evo

$66,390

Less than half the price and just as much fun as the GT-R. Huge five-year overall warranty (and 10-years on drivetrain) is impressive. Evo gets the dual-clutch robotised manual box with slick - shifting six cogs and a superb chassis with suspension adjustment. The seats are both comfortable and supportive but then the Evo shows up its budget Lancer origins. It takes the edge off the ambience, nothing tears down the exhilarating performance. After all, that's what you're paying for.

Nissan GT-R

$168,800

The price looks like it kills this comparison. It doesn't. The GT-R is designed to do roughly the same thing as the Evo - get you as quickly as possible from A to Z while minimising a mid - journey trouser change-but is more than twice the price. That said, it's also $90,000 cheaper than a Porsche Carrera S. Features are extensive as 2011 is V-Spec standard. The car is also very well built - a surprise for past Nissan owners - while looking like it's carved from a block of granite.

Technology

Mitsubishi Evo

It's all under the body: adjustable suspension through three modes, electronically-monitored "active" centre and rear diffs that constantly allocate power to the wheel with traction, a sports setting in the sequential gearbox to sharpen up the action, aluminium body panels, close - ratio steering and a new-breed of Evo's traditional 4G engine, the 2-litre 217kW/366Nm 4B11.

Nissan GT-R

Lots here as Nissan changes 70 per cent of the mechanical components in the 2011 model. The 3.8-litre V6 ups power/torque to 390kW/612Nm; the front brake rotors are bigger at 390mm; yaw and pitch help the electronics distribute power to the four wheels; the transmission has a super-fast "R-mode" and an eco-mode called "save"; the dampers are now made of aluminium; and there's hectares of carbon-fibre, magnesium and alloys in die-cast, forged and sheet formats. It all helps get the 0-100km/h time down to 3.0 seconds.

Design

Mitsubishi Evo

Add-ons lift the conservative styling of the Lancer's exterior from a rep-mobile to something a bit special, though it's the exhaust noise that says it all. Body is effective - four doors, five seats, spacious boot-but except for the front Recaro sports seats, the cabin is as you'd expect from a model that sells from $21,490. To be kinder, the new and more aggressive nose, bonnet, tail-mounted spoiler and spidery 18-inch Enki wheels help to identify the Evo.

Nissan GT-R

Carved from stone using an angle grinder. The wedged side glass, Star Wars trooper angled body panels and the sheer size of the GT-R make it unmissable. Side by side, it makes the Evo look like a child's toy. The cabin is black - natch - and crammed with flickering lights, switches, knobs and lots and lots of numbers plus comfortable seats. It certainly doesn't feel threatening and you begin to wonder what the fuss is about. Then you start the engine.

Safety

Mitsubishi Evo

Lancer was Australia's first affordable five-star car. Nothing's changed. Evo has all the same merits-including electronic stability and seven airbags-but arguably adds extra passive safety by its dynamic all-wheel drive grip.

Nissan GT-R

Not tested. Aside from the crash test, the GT-R is a mobile wonder of electronics designed to maximise stability including all-wheel drive, continuous stability and traction assessment over four wheels and humungous brakes. Has six airbags and tyres are specially-designed Dunlop SP Sport MAXX 600 run flats.

Driving

Mitsubishi Evo

Compared with some earlier Evos-the 6.5 was my favourite-the X initially feels benign. Run it in full-auto and it'll live quietly and without complaint in the suburbs. Get it to the track, however, and it'll raise the hairs on your neck. Flick the console lever to "sport", tune the diffs to "tarmac" and move the stubby gearshifter to the manual mode. Crank the engine over, pull on the right-side paddle shifter on the steering column and bye-bye competition. Scratch the lancer surface and it's an explosive package. But don't think its on-road gentility transfers to the track.The Evo is made for someone who knows how to drive, especially the ability to exploit its twitchy characteristics through the fast corners. Fun, but watch out in case it bites.

Nissan GT-R

Where the Evo goes from personable to positively offensive in a matter of seconds, the GT-R delivers its threat with more composure. It's easier to drive and more comfortable, quieter yet comparatively heavier and more readily shows its bulk. But what performance! Even in full auto mode the engine rushes in a seamless line - unbelievably quiet and smooth - to the tacho's redline and effortlessly dispenses with lesser cars. On the Wanneroo Raceway it bites the tarmac and only starts a mild four-wheel drift when pressed too hard or when it hits the rubber left by previous racecars. Always, it is composed and controllable with excellent chassis feedback that's only let down by a vague steering feel. A wonderful piece of machinery.

Verdict

Mitsubishi Evo

Nissan GT-R

Based on having fun - and a family at home - you may win the argument with the wife over the Evo. It's a lot of fun, but figure out where you're going to have that fun. The GT-R is an expensive coupe that is delightfully easy to punt and unbelievable in its fun factor on the track. Price is, of course, the big issue here. Bang for your bucks goes to Evo; thrill factor to the GT-R.

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Published 1 September 2011

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We compare, head to head, two similar models of competing manufacturer cars. Which do we prefer? Why? Find out in CarsGuide's Head To Head showdowns.