We got our first chance to try out the 2008 Lancer Evolution X MR on both regular roads and the Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, Calif. The car thoroughly met our expectations, offering performance and cabin tech we could only drool over when we saw it at the Tokyo auto show.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.