Mitsubishi, Road Test Reviews, Vehicles

2010 Mitsubishi EvolutionX MR – Road Test

Sweaty palms, shortness of breath and a racing heartbeat. I didn’t know it yet but I had fallen in love.  That was the first few seconds of my experience behind the wheel of the 2010 Evo – I hadn’t even left the parking lot yet and it was more than I had expected!!! Driving at barely faster than idle, I felt like Charlton Heston in “Ben-Hur” when he was holding the reins of those four stallions while steering a chariot. The Evo feels like it’s on a razor’s edge, but not uncomfortably so. After a day though, the feeling subsides and it’s just like every other car, albeit with tons of get up and go.

From the outside, the Evo MR is distinguished at a glance from the Lancer GTS by the taller rear wing, hood scoop and larger nose area. With a little more time you get to see other features that differentiate the all-singing-all-dancing Evo from its lesser brethren, such as the brake vents on the front fenders, those huge Brembo brakes behind the large rims and 40 series low profile tires, along with the off-set license plate on the driver side as opposed to the centre of the car. Inside, the only real outstanding features are the extremely comfortable Recaro seats and the switch by transmission shifter.

First Impressions
Once past the large bolsters on the seat, I look around to see if I can find the height adjustment lever that is on the lesser models and came up short (literally). It feels like you’re sitting on the floor of the car with the dashboard and steering wheel a bit too high. It’s a bit disconcerting at first, because I’m short enough – I don’t need to be so low that I can’t see the road in front of me! However after a few minutes it isn’t an issue – it just takes a bit of getting used to. The seat adjustments are limited to fore and aft as well as the seat back tilt – no lumbar adjustment to be found.

Surprisingly the very firm and deeply sculpted seats are incredibly comfortable even for long journeys behind the wheel. Looking across at my wife I notice she’s sitting about three or four inches higher than I am and she’s looking for the height adjuster to lower her seat. Alas she doesn’t have one either, so she’s stuck sitting much higher than she likes but at least she can look down her nose at me literally for once! One thing of note: my wife complained incessantly about getting in and out of the Evo because of the side bolsters. My advice: stick the wife in the back or leave her at home.

Firing up the engine using Mitsubishi’s FAST-Key system – where you don’t use a key to start the ignition – it’s already there, is a welcome change from all the other cars that are using push-button start now. If something has ever been overdone it’s the push to start – it’s so 2001 – enough already! Anyway… the engine fires up with a nice throaty growl. I was a little worried at first that it would become annoying like the MINI JCW exhaust note where I was bordering on headaches it was so loud. Fear not, the Mitsubishi is perfectly loud without being annoying. Having just driven the Lancer GTS the previous week, everything is already familiar for me – the only things missing are the moonroof and the Rockford Fosgate audio system (more on that later).

Heading out into traffic, I was grinning from ear to ear at the prospect of having the Evo for an entire week. Its stiff suspension is very obvious, but it wasn’t unduly uncomfortable even going over badly rutted railroad tracks.  Compared to the GTS – which had a sports suspension – the Evo’s is ratcheted up several notches, along with a much sharper steering rack. The power steering is perfectly weighted – as is the size of the steering wheel.

Entering the freeway I let it rip and the Evo surges ahead with incredible force, getting past the speed limit in seconds! I’m worried – can I possibly keep my driver’s license past today with this much power?! The Evo is quieter than the Lancer GTS, but there’s plenty of noise coming from the tailpipe to remind you of what you’re driving. To be safe, I switch on the cruise control – I don’t want to lose my license and the car the same day I pick it up. (In Ontario the politicians have felt that the police are responsible enough that they can seize your car, license and fine you $10,000 on the spot – no court, no judge, just Mr. Policeman, should you venture 50 km/h over the speed limit.)


The 2.0 litre turbo engine is terrific and it encourages the driver to push the car into the higher revs just to feel the on-rush of power. I found that even though the transmission offers the paddle shift option, I left it in full automatic mode most of the time because it up-shifted and down-shifted at the same points I would have done anyway. I don’t remember being in a car that made it so obvious that it was down-shifting – a little blip of the throttle before each down-shift and the car slowed down without me even having to apply the brakes! Numerous times I’d slow down and turn a corner without even touching the brakes.

Floor the throttle and the Twin Clutch Sportronic Transmission (TC-SST) shifts through the gears seamlessly. Advanced gear options-choose from Normal, Sport and Super Sport – let you (or the car) change gears in milliseconds. With Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC) you get the added security of having all four wheels driving you through tight bends and sharp corners. Does it get any better than this? I think not.

Zero – 100 km/h sprints were not as good as expected. With the transmission setting in Normal, I got a best of 6.18 seconds. Switching to Sport mode got the time down to 5.7 seconds. Granted it was on a wet road and the Evo was shod with winter tires, but the engine tends to bog down just a little at the lower revs before launching into a full-blown “hang-on-for-dear-life” sprint through the gears.

Holding the brake pedal with my left foot while revving the engine with my right foot didn’t improve the times any. Manually shifting to try and get a better time is an exercise in futility as the Evo changes gears at the red line and far faster than any human could ever do. Once the 100+ km/h had been reached there’s no need to apply the brakes because the Evo behaves like you’d just thrown a boat anchor out the back when you lift off the gas – it’s quite dramatic when you experience it the first couple of times.

Applying the brakes is as dramatic as flooring the throttle. You stop way sooner than anticipated with the binders coming on aggressively when you stomp on the pedal. Modulating the brakes during everyday driving is a breeze, but I found hard braking while coming down a steep hill fairly quickly a little disconcerting on a couple of occasions when the brakes didn’t bite right away – the pedal felt wooden and unconnected. Applying more pressure to the pedal brought the car to a screaming stop.

The audio system is very good and features a 140-watt single-disc AM/FM/CD/MP3 head unit with 6 speakers. The sound quality is better than average, but I would still have preferred the optional Rockford Fosgate system. It’s available in a package with the moonroof and SatNav for $4,000 Cdn.


Rear seat accommodation is surprisingly spacious and comfortable for a car of this size. In back there’s plenty of room for two passengers – three in a pinch – with plenty of knee, foot and legroom and a seat angle that is near perfect. Rear headroom is quite plentiful, with hip room abundant for two but obviously less-so when there are three passengers back there. The rear seat doesn’t split on the Evo, in fact the trunk space is dramatically reduced when compared to other Lancer models at only195 liters. What was a large trunk ends up being quite snug because the battery – and would you believe the windshield washer fluid reservoir – is located in the trunk!?

The Conclusion

I wasn’t sure if I would like or love the Mitsubishi Evo X. I’d driven the Subaru WRX STi a couple of months ago and thought it was an incredible vehicle – a little over-complicated, but unbelievable to drive. After a couple of days with the Evo, I have to say it’s without a doubt my favourite car – NOTHING comes close. Apart from the incredible power, it slowly grew on me to the point that it makes absolute sense to own it.

Around here we have very limited use for a car with that much power and speed because of the boys-in-blue, but I still found a way to enjoy every aspect of the car and I also kept my license! I’ve driven cars that cost double what the Evo is and they barely gave me half as much fun behind the wheel. It’s a lot of money.. but you just can’t get anything near to this for excitement unless you get into the super-car territory.

Footnote:
My wife was kind enough to give me a few moments alone at the end of the test drive to spend some quality time with the Evo – reminiscing about all the good times we had together. It was a short affair, but my wife understood and was very supportive. She even commented that she’d miss the Evo too.

+ PLUSES:

Outstanding quality fit and finish
Incredible engine
Terrific Twin Clutch Sportronic® Shift transmission – don’t even think about getting the manual!
AWD
A sleeper car (even with the large rear wing) that’ll flatten your eyeballs

– MINUSES:

Smaller trunk than the rest of the Lancer line-up
I had to give it back

Immediate Competition:
Subaru Impreza WRX STi

By The Numbers…

Please visit your local dealer for the latest prices and incentives.

Powertrain:          2.0L MIVEC I4 turbocharged/intercooled; Twin Clutch Sportronic® Shift Transmission (TC-SST);
Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC)
Horsepower (Kw): 291 (217)  @ 6,500 rpm
Torque (N.m.):       300 (406) @ 4,000 rpm
0-100 kph:          5.7 seconds

Curb Weight:           1,634 kg
Cargo Capacity:      195 litres

Fuel Consumption:
[Premium Unleaded – 91 Octane]
City: 13.8 L/100 kms  //  Highway: 10.7 L/100 kms
I averaged 12.2 L/100km during mostly highway driving. One short trip 59 kms I got an incredible 6.0 L/100km at a steady 120 kph.

For more information visit: www.mitsubishicars.com  or www.mitsubishi-motors.ca


Copyright © 2010 by Iain Shankland. All rights reserved.
Text: Iain Shankland / Images: Mitsubishi / Iain Shankland

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Also Published at: Automobilsport.com & Flagworld.com

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