Based on the standard Mitsubishi Lancer, the Evo uses a sedan body, but that's about where the similarities end. The Evo's 2-liter four cylinder engine gets a turbocharger, which, along with tuning, pumps the engine output to 291 horsepower at 6,500rpm and 300 foot-pounds of torque at 4,400rpm.
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The spoiler is another external touch differentiating the Evo from the standard Lancer. Under the car, a complex all-wheel-drive system with three differentials keeps the tires gripping just about any surface. From inside the cabin, you can adjust the differential locking for asphalt, gravel, or snow.
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The Recaro seats feel a little weird, with side bolsters spaced a little wide. Also, there is no height adjustment for the seats, and the steering wheel doesn't have a telescoping adjustment.
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This MR trimmed Evo came with Mitsubishi's new SST twin clutch transmission, and we like everything about it. Instead of pushing a clutch to change gears, servos and two computer controlled clutches--one that's currently engaged while the other stays posed on the next anticipated gear--work together toward lightning fast shifts.
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With its 291 horsepower, the Evo can get to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds. In the straightaways at Laguna Seca, we found a shift to fourth gear was required as the tachometer tipped past the 8,000rpm mark.
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The Evo does well in straight-line acceleration, but its real strength is handling. Here it can be seen on the approach to the Corkscrew, a hard couple of turns down a hill at Laguna Seca. The Evo felt as if it was made for this sharp left turn, followed by a quick right.
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With its excellent handling and fast, twin clutch shifts, the Evo offers a very visceral experience behind the wheel. You can feel it respond to the track and driver input on the wheel and the accelerator.
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