The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution was originally developed in the early 1990s to compete in the World Rally Championship (WRC) racing series and abide by homologation rules. Packing a powerful turbocharged engine and all-wheel drive, the Lancer Evolution quickly became a successful rally car. Early road-going versions of the Evo were originally just meant for the Japanese home market, but this didn't stop the car from developing a cultlike following around the world. Finally, for the 2003 model year, Mitsubishi started importing official road-going Lancer Evolutions to the North American market.
The Evolution (or "Evo") is based on the Lancer compact sedan. The two cars don't have much in common beyond their body and interior design, however. Whereas the regular Lancer is a rather mundane economy car despite its edgy styling, the pumped-up, flared-fendered Evo is turbocharged, boisterous and ready to lay down rubber on a racetrack.
Despite its humble beginnings as an average economy car, the Evo can accelerate and corner with all but the fastest production cars on the market. Finding a well-kept used example may be tough, but is certainly worth the effort. If you're interested in a new Evo, then you'd better act quickly, because its days are likely numbered.
Current Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution
Today's Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, technically known as the Lancer Evolution X, offers a level of performance typically found in European sports cars and sport sedans that cost considerably more. Only a few cars, in and outside of its class, can provide comparable engine power, precision handling and driving intensity. As a bonus, the Evo looks the part of a legitimate high-performance car as well.
The sole available power plant is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that generates 291 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to all four wheels through an advanced all-wheel-drive system.
There are two available trim levels -- GSR and MR. The GSR is intended to attract traditional driving enthusiasts, as it offers more aggressive suspension settings and a slick five-speed manual transmission. The pricier MR features a marginally softer suspension and Mitsubishi's automated twin-clutch manual transmission, which is operated via paddle shifters and also functions as a traditional automatic when not in manual mode. Mitsubishi has done its homework with this transmission -- it's one of the quickest in the business when you're firing off full-throttle upshifts. The MR's Touring package tacks on even more creature comforts, with a sunroof, rain-sensing wipers, leather seating, heated front seats and additional sound insulation.
Although the Evo's exterior styling has taken a significant step forward, the interior can't hide its humble econocar roots. The control layout is functional, but there's no getting around the fact that you can get essentially the same interior in a base Lancer sedan. Even with the top-end MR Touring, the point of the Evo is to transport you from point A to point B more quickly than just about anything under $40K. If you expect a certain degree of luxury for that type of money, we suggest looking elsewhere.
In reviews, we've been impressed with the Evo X's sports-carlike handling and responsiveness. Its ability to go around tight corners quickly and securely is rivaled by only a handful of cars on the road today. Acceleration, too, is top-notch, as the Evo can give far more expensive cars a run for their money. Hard-core enthusiasts may find that the new car feels a bit blunted compared to the razor's-edge performance of its predecessor. The trade-off, however, is in refinement, as the Evo X is leaps and bounds ahead of the Evo VI by this measure. Yet it remains one of the most capable cars in existence for the money.
Read the most recent 2014 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution page.