Home > Reviews > 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution GSR

2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution GSR

600 Miles Later We Learn What The Evo Isn’t Good At

     I’ve had better and I’ve had worse. Among the worse was a three-hour cross-country van trip through Mexico in a 20-year-old van. A trip like that will make you appreciate things like suspensions, air conditioning and even the Michigan DOT. Recently I embarked on a road trip that didn’t jar loose all the fillings from my teeth but did take a toll on the overall condition of my already weakened body.
     I began my day in Flint, Michigan, where along with roughly 7,000 other crazed runners I took part in the CRIM festival of races 10-mile road race. I did quite well thank you, but the end result was still fatigue, tiredness, and near dehydration. Now normally at this point I would eat a hearty lunch, take a very necessary shower and collapse on the couch for an afternoon of sleepy vegetating. Today, however, I had to support a good buddy of mine at his bachelor party, which included an afternoon of go-karting. I was not missing this. The only problem: it was in Chicago!
     Three hundred miles separated one race from the other and it was going to be a race against time to get there. But a couple of Gatorades, a quick shower, and a Hot-n-Ready pizza later I was west bound at the helm of the latest Evolution with a full tank of gas. And before I left Michigan I was stopping for fuel. Not that I minded terribly. Allow me to reflect:
     The Evolution is NOT a long-distance highway cruiser. The seat has a long bottom cushion that hit the back of my legs awkwardly. The steering wheel does not telescope thus I had to slide right up to it, squishing my already cramping legs further into a discomforting position. The interior ambiance at 70-plus mph is loud. The aggressive tires drone over Michigan’s various imperfect road surfaces, the wind noise is far from isolated and the engine buzzes at anything over 3,500 rpm. Maybe the optional 650-watt Rockford Fosgate stereo would have added some agreeable sounds, but our car’s standard 140-watt unit was nothing to write home about. On top of that, 5th gear (only the MR’s fancy dual clutch automated manual gets a 6th cog) is rather tall. At an average of 17 mpg (ok, so I had my foot in it a bit) the 14-gallon fuel tank ran dry in 238 miles. The pit stop did provide a much needed chance for me to get out and stretch my aching legs. For little did I know that ahead of me I would travel 23 miles of construction congestion at stop and go clutch on/clutch off snail speeds. It’s a rather unsatisfactory place to take a high-strung wanna-be rally car. When at last I landed at my destination the car and I were not on speaking terms.
     This event as I so lovingly refer to it as the Muxlow triathlon (a foot race followed by a interstate race finished off with a go-car race) was overall a lot of fun, I managed to out pace all but one of my buddies in the go-karting, but did not highlight any of this car’s strongest character points. Sure the Evolution will pull from a stop light like no ones business, but it never once asked me to take it further into the congested arteries of urban sprawl. All this has led me to three conclusions.
     Do not buy the Evo for commuting. First of all, this car will happily motor the back roads flinging dirt and stones around muddy apexes. Just check the specs. Packed under the silver sheetmetal is a modern marvel of a motor and one fancy all-wheel drive setup. The motor is a 2.0-liter turbocharged all-aluminum four tuned to churn out 291hp and 300 pound feet of torque—more power than the EVO has ever offered. The all-wheel drive system is fantastic in the way it puts the power down. Three drive settings (tarmac, gravel, and snow) adjust power application strategies for those varied conditions. The dry roads on this trip did not yield any further insight into the capabilities of the system, but the last time we had the Lancer’s bad-boy brother in the AT garage it was the middle of winter. We parked our Evo IX MR in the middle of a snowdrift, trying to get it stuck, and blew through the wet slop faster than most cars will scoot away on a clear piece of tarmac. The transmission is a fine piece of work and offers a more mechanical feel than the IX did. Clutch take up was spot on and the shifter moved through the gates with a simple wrist flick. The engine was a bit more refined with its turbo delivering its extra bit of oomph less like an on/off switch and more like a fireman’s hose: a bit of a trickle followed by an explosive surge. Mitsubishi puts an end to the fun at 7,000 rpm, but with the horsepower and torque peaks lower than that, we didn’t see redline very often. One thing that hasn’t changed: the Brembo brakes are just as potent as we remember them on the IX.
     Do not buy the Evo for its fantastic interior. It doesn’t have one. At the end of the day you are still in an economy car, regardless of the $33,665 window sticker. The seat fabric is thin, the sound deadening insulation is thinner, the dash is hard and squeaky, and the switchgear is flimsy.
     Do not buy the Evo for its looks. It is has a face only a mother could love.
     Buy an Evo because it is one of the greatest performance bargains in the world. Need I say more?

The Good:
Crazy power, great brakes, a true driver’s car.
The Bad:
Economy car roots are evident inside.
The Verdict:
The mechanicals of a champion in a car for the commoners.
You must be logged in to post a comment.