Review – 2011 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR: A Snowmobile For The Road

 

 

When I was a kid, I drooled over cars like the Subaru WRX STI, and the Mitsubishi. Not for just for their high output four cylinders, but for their entire drivetrains. Those high output four cylinders combined with the rally bred all-wheel drive systems are just a marvel to behold. When given the chance to have a 2011 Mitsubishi Evo MR Touring in my driveway for a week, I jumped all over it. Is the little rally bred street racer all I hoped? After spending a week with it, I finally have some answers.

The exterior of the Evo is menacing. I mean really, the front looks like it is going to eat you. From the sculpted hood with heat extractors and air inlet, to the gaping mesh grille, it all works. And don’t forget about those scowling headlights.

More than one person during the week asked me what that big silver thing was towards the bottom of the front clip. That my friends, is a nice big intercooler. It helps keep the hopped up four banger cool.

My Evo MR test vehicle sported some very nice light-weight 18″ BBS wheels shod with Bridgestone snow tires. Peeking behind those great looking wheels were a terrific set of Brembo brakes that kept this little beast in control at all times.

From the side view, the Evo MR almost looks like a normal Lancer, almost. The body kit has side skirts that extend from the rocker panels quite a bit, enough to make you pay attention when entering the car. If you aren’t careful, you’ll get a leg full of snow and slush.

My favorite part of the rear is definitely the taillights. Both during the day and even more so at night, they appear to be scowling at you. The MR deletes the big stupid boy racer wing off the trunk, and replaces it with a tasteful lip. Below the bumper lies an aggressive diffuser with two chrome exhaust tips protruding out.

Bottom line on the exterior of the Evo MR: it’s aggressive. The MR ditches the silly wing and makes the Evo almost passible as a car that doesn’t shout “Hey look at me Mr. Police man,” though I did say almost.

Before I get to the interior, lets get one thing straight….this car is about driving. The powertrain is what makes this car. This is evident in the interior.

If you read my review of the 2011 Lancer Sportback ES, you’ll know the interior materials on that car are a letdown. With hard plastics that can scratch easily, it just looks cheap. The Evo shares this interior because it is based off the Lancer.

The touring package blesses the Evo with terrific heated Recaro leather seats that are manually adjustable. These seats are terrific and also worth noting, absolutely not made for overweight Americans. I fit just fine, but many people will find these seats to be uncomfortable. They grip you in all the right places. When flying around a track, your body will not be moving around. That is exactly what you want from sport seats.

Sound was provided by the Rockford Fosgate Punch sound system. This system puts out 710-watts and is connected to 9 speakers and a 10″ subwoofer. In a word, it’s boomy. The highs are messy and the lows are loud, but muddy. In a car like this, how much does a sound system really matter anyway though, right?

Overall the interior is somewhat cheap, but hey, once you hit the go pedal you really don’t care. I assure you of this. Oh, and the seats make up for any problems you have with the crappy plastics.

Now what we have all really been waiting for: the powertrain and driving impressions. The Evo has one engine choice, a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder that has a twin-scroll turbocharger. This is good for 291-horsepower and 300 lb-ft, which of course goes to all four wheels.

The base Evo has a 5-speed manual transmission while the MR model features Mitsubishi’s 6-speed TC-SST transmission. The TC-SST transmission is Mitsubishi’s dual clutch transmission.

The TC-SST transmission has three modes: Normal, Sport, and S-Sport (Super Sport). These modes can be changed via a toggle next to the shifter. One thing to note: you can change the modes while driving, but to put the car in S-Sport you must be fully stopped, and hold the toggle for a few seconds. It is almost like a hidden mode. Normal is what you would expect, normal. Though it does seem to do exactly what you want when you want it in most conditions. Sport takes things up a notch keeping the revs higher, and shifts are a little harder. S-Sport is really just ridiculous for street use, it keeps the revs nearly always above 5,000 RPMS , and hits redline every time. Oh, and it also shifts so hard that you feel like you just hurt the transmission. I almost felt bad for it.

All Evo’s have what Mitsubishi calls Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC). The S-AWC system is a really sophisticated all-wheel drive system. It has more sensors than you can probably count. It also has an active center differential. Taking things even further, we have active yaw control in the rear. This is the part that makes the power go side to side in the rear. When you go around a corner, the power is being moved around to push and pull you, even when the wheels are slipping.

The S-AWC system has three modes which you change using a button near the emergency brake (how convenient). The modes are: Snow, Gravel, and Tarmac. Push the button and it will toggle through the modes. Each mode calibrates the S-AWC for the condition of which you selected. Remember, this is/was a rally bred car.

Driving the car is like piloting a go kart on the road. Though it is a really heavy go kart. At 3,500 lbs, it is surprisingly heavy! Turbo lag is here, but you realize it quick and plan accordingly. From a dead stop if you slam the gas it is a second of thinking “hmmmm” followed by “holy crap” once the revs hit about 3,000 RPMs.

The steering wheel is a nice diameter and the metal paddle shifters that lurk behind the steering wheel are great. They are mounted (correctly) on the steering column instead of on the steering wheel. You always know where they are.

Steering is direct and very responsive. It almost does what you are thinking, literally. With only 2.7 turns lock-to-lock, it does not take a ton of input to direct the Evo. It almost feels like a precision tool meant to listen to your every command.

When you take a corner, it almost doesn’t matter your speed. The S-AWC has a little graph that you can display in the information cluster. This shows you where the power is going in relation to the wheels. Hit the gas and take a corner fast, you’ll see the power go to the front inside wheel and rear outside wheel.

The suspension is somewhat harsh. When I say harsh, some will find it a bit ridiculous. I found it tolerable, though many will not.

With a 14.5 gallon gas tank I will recommend you watch the gas gauge closely. The Evo is rated at 17/22 mpg, but good luck getting that. I averaged anywhere from 14 to 18 mpg. As you might imagine, I went through quite a few tanks of gas. A high-output turbocharged 4-cylinder pulling that much weight literally chugs premium gasoline.

Along with your gas tank issue, make sure you pack light. The trunk has less than 7 cubic feet of cargo space. Between the rear mounted battery, windshield washer fluid tank, and the subwoofer, you will not be taking the kids stroller to the park along with that picnic basket.

So after spending a week with Mitsubishi’s halo car, was it everything I had hoped and dreamed? In a word, yes. I was disappointed that it was so heavy, and while I expected the low rent interior (man you should have see the last generation), the Evo is hard to argue with. At $41,995 as tested, it is not a cheap ride, but it starts at a little over $34k and you can choose how you option it from there.

The the Evo is a ton of coin; heck you are in small premium car territory at that price. You could even buy a Camaro SS or Mustang GT for less money, but they are a different type of performance. Those are brute power kind of cars.

At the end of the day the Evo is a ton of fun, and much more refined than past generations. You just need to know what you are buying for that kind of money. An expensive small car that chugs premium fuel and has little to no cargo room in the trunk. Did I mention the Recaro seats, TC-SST transmission and the mind bending all-wheel drive?

Full Disclosure – The review vehicle was provided by Mitsubishi

Some Photography – Alex Bellus

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8 Responses to “Review – 2011 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR: A Snowmobile For The Road”

  1. Great review on the Evo – really like the pics! Great Job!

    That is heavy for this car, although it’s got a lot packed into it… you would think that they would at least improve hp somehow. The Evo’s been hovering just below 300hp forever now…

    01/21/2011 at 6:23 pm Reply
  2. tavbovbo #

    Not impressed; at least not very much. For a 34k + car, I expected a bit more. I would have expected Mitsubishi to go the way of the c6 corvette by upgrading the interior to match the somewhat snazzy interior. Really ? The interior reminds me of previous generation Chrysler vehicles. Oh well, this car isnt for everyone and it at least does one thing incredibly well :-)

    06/21/2011 at 1:27 am Reply
  3. Byron #

    You guys keep talking about the price but I compared the fully optioned one I bought at 44k against a much more expensive audis4 or a BMW 335xi
    I needed a back seat for the occasional kid so If you are looking for a fast awd, sports car under 50k there are not alot of great options. The interior doesn’t bother me I want power, speed and handling, this handles better than anything at 50k or under, is pretty exclusive and can be easily upgraded to more hp if you must have it.

    Mitsubishi is aiming upscale on this one not against suburu sti. Which it trounces.

    10/12/2011 at 8:32 pm Reply
  4. justin #

    I currently own an 08 EVO GSR and I am considering buying a ’11 MR. these have to be some of the most fun cars ever made. I have driven everything from stock cars to open wheel formula cars, and I would not even consider an audi, benz or beamer. If you are concerned about interior, then you are not a real driver. I don’t think you could find a car within 50K of its price that will take it on a track, windy road or grass field. (I’ve tried the last)

    10/15/2011 at 7:48 pm Reply
  5. SK #

    I just purchased 2011 MR EVO…loaded 45K…sound proofing etc. I traded SRTJEEP and have had many fast cars in my days. I can tell you that this car is mind blowing in many ways, the jeep would be eaten alive after 15 miles per hour…I dont think my interior is that bad with the nav system and the upscaled shifter it looks very nice. This is the best driving car I have ever driven…yes it is a bit loud, yes it hits bumbs a bit harder, yes the road noise is right under you at 80mph, but man oh man a very addictive drive.

    sk

    10/26/2011 at 10:48 pm Reply
  6. Nathan #

    It trounces the Subaru? You can get a fully loaded sti limited for about 4-5k less. Plus, you actually get to keep a REAL manual car. As far as performance, I have heard the wrx limited is actually better 0-60 than the sti, but the wrx, sti, and evo X are pretty much in the same category. However, the limited Subarus seem to have it going on a lot more than the evos. The one thing I like better is the evo’s steering wheel (it’s nice!)

    11/06/2011 at 3:51 pm Reply
    • byron #

      By trounces i mean it wins every competition review i have read.
      Subi’s downfall is in it’s handling and cornering which cant match the Evo MR.
      Interior is probably better but the MR is definitely more advanced than what Subi is trouting out. The MR is a baby GTR.

      01/14/2012 at 9:38 am Reply
  7. Alexp330 #

    How can you say the interior of the Sti is better? the Sti is more cramped and just as cheap if not cheaper feeling than any evo i’ve ever been in.

    01/21/2012 at 1:09 pm Reply

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