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October 22, 2008 > Auto Review: 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR

Auto Review: 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR

Mitsubishi offers its "Hot Rod" Lancer Evolution (or Evo) in two forms: fast and really fast. The Evo GSR starts at $32,990 with a 5-speed manual transmission. For an additional $5,300 you move up to Mitsubishi's rocket ship MR version. The two models share the same turbocharged, intercooled, 2.0-liter power plant rated at 291 HP and 300 foot pounds of torque.

In the GSR, a 5-speed manual transmission delivers the power to Mitsubishi's famous all-wheel drive system. The MR gets a great, paddle-shifted, 6-speed automatic transmission to power all four corners. This unit is actually a computer-shifted manual transmission that performs flawlessly.

It's in the handling department that the MR jumps up from its stable mate. First, Eibach springs and Bilstein shocks stiffen the ride (but not so much that it is uncomfortable for day to day use) and help the MR change direction faster and with more authority. Second, a better set of brakes pull the MR down faster. Third, bigger BBS wheels allow the bigger tires to transmit all forces from the MR to the pavement.

The MR also gets a big rear wing hung off the trunk lid. I'm not sure the wing really helps much at speeds less than 70 mph but I am sure that the rear wing does a great job of blocking your vision when you use the interior rearview mirror. Then MR also gets high intensity discharge headlights and is setup for a Blue Tooth hands-free system.

Both models achieved 22 mpg in their EPA highway testing on premium unleaded fuel. The GSR scored 16 mpg and the MR got 17 mpg in their city test cycle.

The Evo's interior was great. It has Recaro seats in front that are very supportive while still being very comfortable. There is plenty of legroom for people in the back seat.

I did find one item hard to get used to. The automatic transmission's shift paddles do not rotate as the steering wheel is turned. A few times, in the middle of a sharp turn, I went to downshift and couldn't find the paddle. Given enough time, I could have learned to do it correctly. Other manufacturers have solved this problem by having the paddles rotate with the steering wheel, so why couldn't Mitsubishi do that too?

As long as we are on "downshifts," let's cover turbo lag. Mitsubishi tries to eliminate as much lag as possible by using its twin scroll turbocharger unit. But the Evo does have some Turbo lag between hitting the throttle to the engine producing full power. You just need to be ready by adjusting your driving style to account for it. The driver needs to respect the Evo MR; otherwise bad things (accidents) can happen.

Our test MR's (base MSRP of $38,290) only option was the "Tech Package." This $2,550 package adds a very good navigation system, a 650 watt Rockford-Fosgate Punch sound system with a 10 inch subwoofer and 8 other speakers and a Sirius satellite radio. The total sticker was $41,765. There is a list of other options that are available to dress up your Evo or make it go faster. Going fast is what the Evo has been all about for years. The 2008 version will not disappoint its new owner in this area.

By Dick Ryan
Freelance Automotive Journalist
Member of the Western Automotive Journalists
RRYAN@FRK.COM

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