By Antony Dickson
It was a week full of excitement! A week that gave me an excessive rush of adrenaline. It was the week that will be probably be the best week of 2012 for me. It was the week I had the 2012 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR to test. I’m sure you have already sensed that the following review will probably be a little biased. It may be just me, but there is almost nothing wrong with this car. Nothing much has changed from the previous model except that it is faster this year! The 2012 Evolution (or the EVO) still is one of the best road cars in the $40,000 to $50,000 bracket that will eat out its competition when it comes to overall performance and thrill quotient.
The EVO comes in two versions — the MR and the GSR. The GSR offers an aggressive suspension package, manual transmission and its distinctive large rear spoiler. The MR meanwhile, comes without a rear spoiler, and almost gives it the ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’ character. Besides a few luxury features as standard options, the MR comes with an advanced super-quick-shifting 6-speed Twin-Clutch Sportronic Shift Transmission (TC-SST) that allows the driver change gears via the gear shift stick or the steering wheel paddle shifters. The MR also offers a softer ride for its passengers without sacrificing handling abilities. Obviously, all that comes at a price. The tester featured here is the 2012 EVO MR.
Once inside the cockpit, the first thing you’ll notice is the body-wrapping leather Recaro seats. The interiors have been improved and Mitsubishi has done well with getting rid of the ‘cheap plastic’ look. The large touch screen gives you controls of the audio, wireless connectivity and the on board GPS system. Start the engine and the car comes to life with a low note rumble that is music to enthusiasts ears. Cruising down the streets of the city, did invite long looks of admiration. Once on the road, the car behaves in a very civic manner, of course depending on your right foot. The car has three driving modes — Normal, Sport and Tarmac. In the normal mode, the EVO drives in a docile manner changing gears in low revs and keeping it quiet. Even in the Normal mode, the EVO caught me off guard several times when it came to speeds. Keeping with the limits was a tough task because the EVO made speeds like 60 kmph to 80 kmph feel like 40 kmph. That made me take frequent looks at the speedometer.
But the real fun begins when you flip the selector to Sport mode and the EVO almost turns into a beast. The revs get higher in every gear and the automatic transmission here almost makes the standard look obsolete with its highly responsive transmission. It almost knew what my right foot was thinking before what it wanted to do. The down shifts and the up shifts almost made me think I was driving a standard, only this was way better. Who needs a standard when you have the TC-SST, is what came to mind. I demonstrated its radical behavioural change in the Sport mode to a few friends who swear by manual transmission, and trust me, they couldn’t believe what they just experienced.
Start from a stop to 100 kmph was achieved in under an eye-popping and heart sinking five seconds with power going to all four wheels via its power house under the hood — the 2.0 litre DOHC, 16 valve, MIVEC, turbocharged, intercooled, inline 4-cylinder with aluminum block and heads, producing 291 hp at 6,500 rpm and 300 lb-ft of peak torque at 4,000 rpm. The gear changes are super-quick and with a heavy right foot, the car red lines before undertaking a split second gear shift and everything around you just becomes a blur. Paddle shifts are fun, but I’d say leave the gear changes to the car and watch yourself eat the tarmac away. Despite the hard driving occasionally, the EVO averaged a combined city/highway mileage of 12.5 km/100 litres.
The EVO’s Super All Wheel Control (S-AWC) real time vehicle dynamics control network employing the Active Centre Differential (ACD), Active Yaw Control (AYC) , Active Stability Control (ASC) and Sport ABS systems, gives the EVO superior handling qualities on twists and turns making any amateur driver look like a pro. The S-AWC system is made up of four independent sensors talking to each other continuously with the on board computer determining the optimum torque split between the front and rear axles at any given time providing the best split to get the car around and out of corners as quick as possible.
The EVO comes equipped with world-renowned Bilstein front and rear shocks with Eibach coil springs that add to its excellent handling capabilities. The EVO surprised me several times by almost making it seem like it was on rails when I negotiated tight turns at high speeds. Working in tandem with the electronic gizmos are the EVO’s shoes — 245/40R18 Yokohama asymmetrical tires wrapped around 18″ BBS forged alloy wheels, that not only do the job, but are a treat to look at. The EVO does go fast and stops as fast too, thanks to the Brembo brakes, that peek out from behind the BBS rims. So good is the EVO’s handling, that you tend to develop bad habits like pushing the car harder every time you get an opportunity.
Coming to the aesthetics, the EVO looks like how an EVO should look like. The front end is almost menacing when viewed in the rear mirror that’s fast approaching you. The bloated wheel arches and low ride height gives it a meaner stance. The BBS rims with 18″ tires are an absolute treat to the eye. The interiors haven’t disappointed too. There’s just enough room in the back seat for three adults or two child seats. Storage room in the boot is limited because of the stereo’s subwoofer. But one wouldn’t complain with the impressive quality of the sound system offered powered by Rockford Fosgate.
The only other car in competition with the EVO would be the Subaru Impreza WRX STi. I’d have to say, it’s a tough call between the two. But the EVO would be the car of choice for me. The EVOs start from $41,998. The car featured here had a $53,148 price tag. It’s a small price for the kind of performance offered. The EVO is a car that makes you want to drive all the time. It almost makes every day a day to look forward to because you get a chance to drive again to work. If you’re single, it’s a perfect car. If you have a family, it’s a perfect car. If you’re a weekend racer, its a perfect car. You can’t go wrong with a Mitsubishi Evolution.