Mitsubish's Evo needs no introduction. A long time favourite with boy racers, there won't be too many boys that can afford the $65,000 price tag that comes with the top of the line MR SST model.
Lancer is priced from $19,990, the Ralliart from $39,990, the Evo from $56,990 and the full blown Evo MR SST from $65,990 which is actually less than it used to be. It's a lot of money but the car is virtually engineered to track standard, with a trick diff, twin clutch paddle shift, Brembo brakes, Bilstein shocks and Eibach springs and forged BBS aluminium wheels. Fitted with Recaro race seats the MR also features satnav, Bluetooth with voice control and the premium Rockford-Fosgate audio system.
ENGINE / TRANSMISSION
The 2.0-litre turbocharged engine delivers an impressive 217kW of power at 6500 revs and 366Nm of torque at 3500 revs. In the MR it's teamed with a 6-speed twin clutch manumatic that provides rapid fire gear changes.
The Twin Clutch Sport Shift Transmission (TC-SST) with steering wheel control operates in three modes: Normal, Sport for quicker acceleration and gear changes, and the ultimate choice for "sporty" driving Super Sports Mode (S-Sport).
The Active Centre Differential (ACD) determines the optimal torque split between the front and rear axles and works in three modes tarmac, gravel and snow to enable quicker control response for changes in road surfaces.
The 14MY line-up sees the return of the racy Lightning Blue. MR comes with the performance pack fitted as standard which includes Brembo two piece type front disc brake, Bilstein front and rear shock absorbers, Eibach front and rear springs and 18-inch BBS forged alloy wheels.
It also gains some exterior styling points such as colour-coded air vents on the bonnet and front fenders, chrome belt line moulding, chrome grille surround and HID headlamps with Adaptive Front Lighting System, headlamp washers and auto headlamp levelling. Inside, the MR gains leather seat facings on the Recaro front seats and Evolution chrome scuff plates.
Based on the standard Lancer it gets a full five stars for safety, with Mitsubishi's Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution (RISE) body, that provides super strength cabin protection in the event of an accident.
There's also the usual array of safety features including a reversing camera, traction and stability control, ABS anti-lock brakes, electronic brake force distribution and brake assist.
It doesn't get much better than this. The Evo is an exhilarating car to drive, with more power than you could possibly need. Too bad it's not as comfortable as it could be with seats that are designed for skinny kids, because the high side bolsters dig into your thighs and can become annoying over longer distances.
The transmission modes offer a wide range of personalities. You get smooth shifts in full auto Normal mode, but it tends to hold a higher gear a bit longer than you'd want, and lacks the intuition of the better DSGs. But shift to Sport and you'll think things have gone to the other extreme -- until you try Super Sport, which brings aggressive characteristics into play, particularly if you're game for the shift shock of the manual mode.
The only problem with that is it eats into your fuel consumption and that can be a problem, especially when it needs the good stuff at $1.70 a litre. With a 55 litre tank and rated at 10.1 litres/100km, it doesn't take long to chew through an entire tank full of 98 -- ouch! We were getting the low fuel light after just 350km. But you'll probably forget that pain at the first set of corners, where the Evo bites in and hangs on with all the assurance of a beast hunting in its natural habitat.
The Evo delivers the kind of performance promised by much more expensive Europeans sports cars. And with the added bonus of all-wheel drive it will stay with them every inch of the way.
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR
Price: from $65,990
Warranty: 5 years/130,000km
Service interval: 7500km/6 months
Safety rating: five star ANCAP
Spare: puncture repair kit
Engine: 2-litre DOHC 16-valve intercooled turbocharged four-cylinder, 217kW/366Nm
Transmission: 6-speed dual-clutch automated manual, AWD
Body: 4.5m (L); 1.8m (w); 1.5m (h)
Thirst: 10.1L/100km, 240g/km CO2