This is the last year for the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution and there will be more than a few tears shed over its loss. Once, this was the darling of the go faster set. It still is for some, but other cars have come along and done one better. Mitsubishi has decided that 2015 will be the last year for the Lancer and after a week driving it, we understand why.
Put down the rotten tomatoes. We didn’t say it’s a terrible car, only that it’s no longer the superstar it was a few years back. The Lancer Evolution GSR arrived sporting a brilliant Octane Blue finish that made it glow faintly, along with a huge wing on the back that screamed for attention. That wing will get eye rolls from most people. To the rest of us, it looks fast and fun, and on this point, the Lancer lives up to expectations.
Powered by a 2.0-liter I4 with 291 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque, this little sedan has loads of power. That engine is paired to a 5-speed manual transmission with a short throw shifter that snaps quickly and precisely into gear. Let the revs creep up and you have a hot little car for tossing around corners or zipping onto the highway. The all-wheel-drive Lancer has no smorgasbord of drive modes to choose from with only one setting of gravel, tarmac, or snow.
Handling is incredible with a very stiff suspension and as for body roll, you’ll find none of that in the Lancer. Steering is about as responsive as it gets with the car immediately reacting to the slightest turn of the wheel. All these things are what make the Lancer shine and what garnered such a loyal fan following. So, why are we not among those those fans?
That stiff suspension might be great if you’re on the track or if every road you drive is freshly paved. On any other road, the least little bump or crack in the pavement is jarring. It makes the idea of taking the Lancer on anything more than the shortest of trips implausible. You could say that’s the sacrifice for all the fun bits, but at nearly $40K, a car should be at least moderately comfortable to drive.
The manual transmision, for all its fun, is only a 5-speed. Once you’re on the highway it practically begs for a 6th gear. It does this with an engine noise that more than once had us looking down to check that we hadn’t somehow left the thing in 4th and forgotten to shift. It’s that intrusive. Combine that engine noise with road and wind noise and it’s truly unpleasant, despite an optional sound dampening system.
The interior also suffers from looking like an economy car. There are hard plastics everywhere and the overall impression is that you didn’t spend a lot of dough. That’s not the case, however, with a price tag of $38,295 for our test model. This included the optional Premium Package ($3,800) which included heated leather seats, sunroof, a 710-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system with 9-speakers, and the sound dampening enhancement that didn’t do anything.
It’s a tale of two cars. The Lancer disappoints on ride quality, comfort, and overall fit and finish, but it succeeds on driving performance with responsive steering and squeal-inducing acceleration. The 2015 Mistsubishi Lancer Evolution GSR is lacking, but for no-frills fun, it’s a heck of a ride.
2015 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution GSR
Base Price: $34,495
Price As Tested: $38,295 (not including destination charge)
- Responsive Steering
- Fun to Drive
- Desperately Needs a 6-speed
- Harsh Ride