2013 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution GSR Road Test Review

Jon Rosner - CAP staff
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Children grow and the time appears to have passed in the blink of an eye. My kids have now hit their teen years and this author is proud of who they are becoming. Cars can be like that that too. Up until the latest iteration, the Mitsubishi Evo series became gnarlier, faster and more powerful with each succeeding generation. They were very raw machines. Like a Porsche GT3, perfectly capable of pounding your kidneys into submission on anything but a glass smooth road.

With the latest incarnation of the Evo the interior is now handsome and current and no longer totally stuffed with bargain-basement hard plastics. The Recaro seats, while very supportive and comfortable, lock you in place. The harsh ride has been banished, while the surgeon's scalpel handling of chassis on the 264-cm wheelbase has been left in place. Want to change lanes? Think it and you're there, telepathic. That's a Lotus Elise characteristic.

While the latest Miata is fun to zing along in, it has no back seat. The FRS/BRZ twins do ~ you can fit your kids back there ~ but first you need to cut them off at the knees. The Lotus Evora has a back seat too, but you pop in like a cork and need a crowbar to get out. The Evo has an honest-to-goodness back seat with football player room and a Costco-capable trunk, shocking civilian capabilities for a road warrior.

The Yokohama Advan 245/40/18 tires on cast aluminum wheels offer tremendous grip of rally-proven suspension and real full time all-wheel drive. It is sure-footed, secure and the confidence-inspiring torque can be apportioned to the front or rear wheels as needed; the default power split is 50/50 front/rear, with up to 80-percent sent to either end. The Evo offers Active Yaw Control too, which integrates a limited-slip differential with a pair of clutches for the left and right wheels. It's a torque-vectoring system that allows power to be split between the rear wheels for truly neutral handling on the worst roads you can throw at it.

The 2.0-litre turbocharged engine with variable valve timing flexes its muscles with 291 horses at 6,100 rpm and 300 foot pounds of torque at 4,000. The little bugger does zero to 100 km/h in under five second thanks to a relatively low curb weight of 1,595 kilos. The hood, roof, front quarter-panels and front and rear bumper beams are all aluminum, while in good rally road weight balancing tradition the battery is located in the trunk.

It's easy to hit the loud pedal, simply blow by the traffic and earn a "but officer, I couldn't have been going that fast" interview. To stay out of trouble this author short-shifted into fifth as early as 1,500 rpm in order to hold a steady 50 km/h in the places where law enforcement has morphed into the relentlessly unforgiving collection bureau of desperate local government agencies.

Those with Miatas, BRZs et al are always dreaming of more grip, more horsepower, and a better way to put that power down without all the complex technical brouhaha of the Nissan GTR and its supercar brethren. And oh yes, for many of us, bachelorhood is a thing of the past and therefore have a need of a back seat in order to hustle kids to school, go meet the teachers, get the kids to sports practice, et al.

Where the Evo leaves the Miata and the BRZ behind is with the larger envelope. Here it's more akin to the Nissan GTR and the Porsche Caymen. The 2.0-litre turbo is happy piddling along at 1,500 rpm at 50 km/h in top gear. There is zero turbo assist here and that is a good thing when trundling through the 30 to 50 km/h zones in most cities these days. The turbo offers almost zero lag, building power between 2,000 and 2,500 rpm with what is essentially a flat torque curve. From 2,500 to a redline of 7,000.

The Evo is shod with Yokohama Advans, not the ultimate grip tire. They hold beautifully, offer a smooth, solid ride with zero tire noise and are progressive at the limit. This means that while you are playing bad boy you get clean feedback as to the car's limits as opposed to other chassis/tire combinations that give no warning of breakaway until recovery from overzealous activities is darn near impossible.

In places where full bore acceleration in the GTR would have yielded triple digit speeds the Evo hits the low eighties. It does so with the same grace under pressure as the Caymen. But the Evo has something neither of the previously mentioned cars have. That is two back seats, with more rear room than the Cadillac ATS and a real trunk. Plus the windows on the Evo roll all the way down, very popular with the back seat crowd.

At 450 centimeters long, 180 cm wide and 147 cm tall the Evo has fairly compact exterior dimensions. With zero blind spots it's easy to make ferocious leaps for openings in traffic that this author would have never considered attempting with a larger and wider beast like the GTR.

The five-speed manual offers a final drive of 4.687 versus the six-speed dual-clutch automatic's 4.062, which does not explain why the stick is rated at 12.4/8.7 while the incredibly quick automatic is rated at 12.6/8.9 L/100km city/highway. We saw almost exactly 12.4 L/100km from my 5-speed manual-equipped GSR tester's tank of premium fuel. This is good as no mercy was shown to the gas pedal.

The warranty on the Evo is for 3 years or 60,000 km with a 5-year/100,000-km Powertrain Limited Warranty.

"It's all about giving our drivers some serious peace-of-mind, and the security in knowing that their Lancer Evolution is engineered for the long-term, with a warranty designed to keep it on the road long into the future," says Mitsubishi.

Quite credible as this author knows of at least two Evos that have not lived the most sedentary lives and both are pushing over 300,000 kilometers.

The Evo is just a tad lighter, a tad sharper and a has a tad more finesse that the more mainstream Subaru WRX STI, and overall it's more fun to take out and play with. With a base price of $43,598 including destination last year (the 2013 model's pricing hasn't been announced yet but should be near the same), the Mitsubishi Evolution is a simply delicious performance bargain.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Sport Sedan, Mitsubishi, 2013, Lancer Evolution X GSR, $40,000 - $49,999, Compact,

Organizations: Mitsubishi

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