This week, we’re driving one of the more exciting compact sport sedans available, namely the 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution GSR. Built for fun driving and performance galore, don’t let Lancer’s otherwise tame styling hide the fact it’s a true sports car.
Delivering superior handling and lots of get up and go in the semblance of a “family sedan,” our tester arrived with a five-speed manual transmission that made the week of driving even more fun. So, as I mentioned in previous columns on Mitsubishi Evos, “if the sports car lover in you wants to fool your neighbors that admire your ‘reasonable choice’ of transportation, this car’s for you.”
With 291-horsepower and 300 lb. ft. of torque awaiting your right foot, you’ll be impressed how well the Evo accelerates and, just as important, slows down. The handling and deceleration come thanks to a performance inspired independent suspension underneath and the racing industry developed Brembo brakes, which are fully ventilated and responsible for stopping many of the world’s top race car and high end sports cars.
Other standard features that highlight respected motorsport brands are Bilstein shocks, Eibach springs, Recaro seats and Yokohama Advan 18-inch performance tires on Enkei alloy wheels. Add a rear mounted battery and Super All-Wheel control AWD traction with active center differential, and you are ready for some real driving fun regardless of where your road takes you.
Currently, there are two models to choose from; a GSR five-speed manual with a base of $34,995 or the automatic version, which is dubbed “MR” and starts at $38,195. Both Lancer Evolutions come powered by a 2.0-liter four cylinder with an inter-cooled turbocharged developing the aforementioned 291 ponies. Power then transfers to all four wheels automatically with the front wheels featuring a limited slip feature.
We did have an opportunity to take our Evo to a closed circuit road course and came away amazed at how well it ran both in corners and on the straights with authority. To hold you in place in hard cornering, Evolution features special side-support race style seats while a leather wrapped sport steering wheel make tight s-curve maneuvers a breeze with no chance of hand slippage.
Of course, high-performance like this comes with some tradeoffs. Don’t expect any type of cushy or smooth ride when the road turns bumpy, as each and every road irregularity is delivered to the seat of your pants. Acceleration? We ran several zero to 60 exercises, coming away with five second numbers while fuel economy, which advises the use of 93 octane Premium fuel, is just a tad better than the automatic. Specifically, the five-speed manual delivers 17 city and 23 highway while the twin-clutch automatic comes in at 17 city and 22, respectively. However, a big concern is why Mitsubishi doesn’t add a sixth-speed gear to the manual to lower the RPMs while cruising and moving the highway numbers upward.
Inside, Evolution’s cabin shares a good bit of plastic with the “normal” Lancer siblings, although it’s still quite sporty as numerous performance oriented updates help the motif. Standard are aluminum pedals, high contract gauges and a few more sporty upgrades your dealer will explain. Standard safety features include seven airbags, all the electronic brake, stability and traction controls and much more.
Outside, fog lamps, side and hood vents, aluminum hood, fenders and roof panel (to save weight) are all standard and play important roles. Also standard are high density headlamps, all the powers, cruise, air, 6.1-inch touch screen, satellite radio and much more. Our tester came with a Premium Package for an additional $1,800 featuring a 710-watt Rockford Fosgate nine-speaker sound system, leather seating, scuff plates, fast key entry, center console upgrade, power sunroof, heated seats and sound special dampening.
As for cargo space, because Mitsubishi puts the battery, windshield washer reservoir and a 10-inch Fosgate subwoofer in the trunk, it leaves the consumer with just 6.9-cu. ft. of cargo room, although the demographic Mitsubishi is after probably doesn’t care much about suitcase room.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 104.3 inches, 5.5-inch ground clearance, 14.5 gal. fuel tank, and 3,527 lb. curb weight.
The 2015 Lancer Evolution awaits your test drive, and I guarantee that few sports cars on the road today deliver what Evo does for less than $40K.
Entry Price: $34,495
Price as tested: $39,105
Top class handling
Wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Rear backup assist optional
No sixth gear to better highway MPG
Rear Wing too big