It is with great sadness, but a feeling of incredible luck that I looked out today to find a 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo GSR in my driveway. The sadness is because I know that I may well be one of the last auto writers to drive this car new. Or at least sort of new. My test car arrives well-worn at the end of its tour of battle. This is the last year of sales for the Evo. A car this great deserves an upbeat obituary.
The Mitsubishi Lancer is a compact economy sedan. Its monthly sales are about equal to a slow Sunday of Corolla sales. Mixed into that trickle of generic cars over the years here in the U.S. have been a handful of diamonds in the rough called Evos. Cars that are so good they are almost hard to believe.
The Evo is a car using the same formula many great affordable, fast cars have. Take a smallish economy-car platform, add an engine with lots of power. Upgrade the suspension and brakes, add sticky tires and voilà, you suddenly have a car that can embarrass refined (expensive) sports sedans from Germany, and muscle cars from America on a road course. Like the Subaru WRX STI, the Mitsubishi Evo adds all-wheel drive which is the real secret to its impressive performance. Rather than offer forty different drive modes, the Evo driver can select from Tarmac, Gravel, or snow. Simple. Effective. Faster than you would guess.
I was a fan of the Subaru STI until the day I drove it back to back on a racetrack with the Mitsubishi Evo. That was the day I was converted. The Evo handled flat to the Subaru’s lean and tilt. It felt elemental where the Subaru felt insulated. Both are fun cars, there is no doubt, but my personal tastes aligned with the Mitsubishi and that was a complete surprise to this prior owner of three Subies (and former owner of one Mitsubishi).
On the track, or on the street at extra-legal speeds, the Evo is a car you can push to 9/10th without fear it will do something unexpected. It will understeer if you push it too hard into a corner accidentally. It will drift if you do so with your foot on the gas intentionally. Having just tested a $39K Mustang with a small turbo engine and ginormous sticky tires, I can tell you that most everyday drivers would be much faster in this car.
The Evo’s $40k price point includes leather seats, three pedals, and a stereo with the volume knob on the wrong side. If you are looking to impress other people, outside the small community of street racers and rally fans, pick any car but this. However, if you want a car that is real-life fast, built with an amazing turbocharged engine and, unfortunately, a ginormous wing on the back (to help stabilize you in flight) there are really two choices. Sadly, after this model year there will be only one.
2015 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo (Evolution) GSR
Base Price: $34,495
Price As Tested: $39,105 (including destination charge)
- Simplicity of Design
- Performance for the Dollar
- Simplicity of Design (not a typo)
- Poor Infotainment System (Which is a standard size if you wish to change it out)
- No Nav
Special thanks to Mitsubishi America for its outsized support of the motor press.