2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR First Impressions – Track star, rain or shine

Monday December 29th, 2008 at 7:1212 AM
Posted by: Derek

2009 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR
By Derek Mau

First Impressions:

  • Mitsubishi’s All-Wheel Control System rules!
  • Automatic shifting of the 6-speed twin-clutch transmission is sooo very smooth
  • Racer-bling — real Recaro sport seats, 18 inch forged BBS wheels, and Brembo brake kit
  • X-gen suspension is stiff compared to normal everyday driving standards
  • Rockford-Fosgate audio system is pretty dang loud

Verdict: The Evo X is fast and loves to be driven hard

Mitsubishi has stepped up its game with the Lancer Evolution MR. Fans of the Lancer Evo and new followers will appreciate the 291 hp turbocharged, 2.0 liter, 4-cylinder mated to a new Getrag six-speed twin-clutch “TC-SST” transmission that delivers power to all four wheels. Managing the power distribution is the Super All-Wheel Control system that encompasses an Active Center Differential, stability control, Sport ABS, and AYC (Active Yaw Control), which apportions torque between the rear wheels.

The Lancer Evolution, redesigned for 2008, is the tenth generation of the rally car for the street but only the third version offered in the U.S. market after the Evo VIII was first imported to the U.S. as a 2003 model. The Lancer Evo X has two trim levels: GSR and MR. The track-worthy Lancer Evolution MR boasts Bilstein shocks, Eibach springs, 18-inch forged BBS wheels, and two-piece front brake rotors. The GSR may not be as polished as the MR, but it still boasts all the X’s essentials – a 291-horse 4B11 turbocharged and intercooled aluminum-block engine, Brembo brakes, and a rear wing bigger than the mortgage crisis.

18 inch BBS forged alloy wheels

The beauty of running a technologically advanced car, such as the Evo X, anyone can shift smoothly and quickly with the skill and finesse of a Formula 1 racer. With magnesium paddle shifters underneath your fingertips and a twin-clutch transmission that practically thinks for you, gear changes take place in a fraction of a second. In the Lancer Evolution MR, the new TC-SST provides the engaging driving experience and engine-control benefits of a manual transmission, but without the need to use a clutch pedal. For three-pedal purists, the Lancer Evo GSR comes with a 5-speed manual and Teflon coated sift-cables for smoother gear changes.

Without boring you with the technical details, this 6-speed automatic is capable of executing lightning-quick upshifts with no drop-off in engine power. The TC-SST features both a console-mounted shifter and steering wheel paddle shifters and offers manual and fully automatic modes. Drilled and contoured aluminum pedals make throttle and brake feel almost telepathic. Recaro sport seats hug the driver and passenger and are ready for a 5-point harness. Drivers with large frames have to shoe-horn themselves into the Recaro seats that have high side and thigh bolsters. I am a small person (125 pounds) and I felt snug and secure in the sport seats with only a little bit of side-to-side wiggle room.

Signing up for a track day in the winter is a little bit of a gamble — even in sunny California. After almost two weeks of cold and on-again, off-again wet showers, we got a break with clear sunny skies and a crisp, invigorating forecast high temp of 52 degrees. I started the first morning session with the TC-SST in Sport mode which moved up the shift points to 4,000 RPMs. Sport mode uses higher shift points and quicker shifting to deliver instant throttle response for better performance feel. Since the track was cold and I really hadn’t had much time behind the wheel of the Evo MR, the automatic transmission allowed me to focus on becoming comfortable with the car and reacquaint myself with Laguna Seca. After a few laps, the tires finally felt like they got up to operating temperature and the Evo really started to show off its potential. Turn-in was crisp and responsive and dowshifting was smoother than a 12 year-old single malt Scotch with the engine matching the transmission revs at every downshift. Acceleration was horrendously fast exiting the turns by keeping the twin-scroll turbo spooled up in its fat powerband.

The remaining track sessions were run in S-Sport mode and the ASC turned off. The S-Sport mode executes the quickest shifts possible, making it ideal for competitive track events. Since the driver and passengers will feel shift shock in S-Sport mode, it is not advisable for everyday driving. With my focus on the track and the Evo working its magic around every corner, what you really feel is a fast car under the control of your hands and feet. The Super All-Wheel Control system provided traction of superhero proportions. The 4-piston Brembo binders allowed me to go deep into the turns with no hints of brake fade the entire day.

2009 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR

If things got a little squirrely, I just had to be brave, keep my foot on the accelerator, and the Super-AWC saved the day again and again. Initially, the Evo MR seems like it’s oversteering, but once you get used to the feeling of AYC working and you keep your foot in it, you can go much quicker through turns.

Weight is the evil side of having all-wheel drive and the Lancer is no exception. The Evo MR may be on the porky-side weighing at nearly 3,600 pounds, but it was able to keep up with a Lotus Elise which weighs less than 2,000 pounds. Remarkably, an easy feat for the Evo X driving at 8/10 of its potential and running on Yokohama street tires against cars in my run group that were using race compound tires.

For track junkies and young drivers who can live with a stiff suspension, noisy cabin, and Glad-wrapped interior, the Lancer Evo X is truly a track star. The fundamental Evo traits — mighty turbo engine, superb chassis, and all-wheel-drive grip-remain in the X and are more capable than ever.


Mitsubishi Lancer Evo Photo Gallery

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Specs

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Specs

Mitsubishi MotorsOfficial website for Mitsubishi cars, trucks, and SUVs – www.mitsubishimotors.com

5 Responses to 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR First Impressions – Track star, rain or shine

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  3. Chris (ex CarReview guy) says:

    No prob man. Nice to see you guys reviewing this car. It’s going to be a track monster!

  4. Derek says:

    Chris, thanks for catching the error. My sources need improvement.

    I verified the history and made the correction.

  5. Chris (ex CarReview guy) says:

    Hey Derek, just FYI – the first Evo imported to the US was an Evo 8, not an Evo 9. So this is the 3rd generation being imported to the US, though the visual differences between the 8 and 9 were very minor.





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