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2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX
The 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX was conceived as a WRC (World Rally Championship) car, so the list of in-cabin technology is about as short as it gets. The lack of a trip computer or a navigation-system option is particularly noticeable. The performance driver will find the cockpit to his or her liking with Recaro seats and an excellent driving position. Under the hood, the 2-liter four-cylinder engine is fitted with an intercooled turbocharger and tuned by the Mitsubishi Innovative Valve timing and Electronic Control (MIVEC) system, a new feature on the 2006. Power output is a whopping 286 horsepower with 289 pound-feet of torque, distributed to all four wheels with Mitsubishi's active center differential.
These systems all contribute to impressive performance. We managed 0 to 60mph in 4.45 seconds. The Brembro brakes, modulated by Mitsubishi's Sports ABS, can haul the car down from 60mph in a scant 115 feet. For the price, the only other car that is remotely close is fellow WRC contender and chief rival, theOur first look at the very aggressive nose of the 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX told us this car is all about performance--just standing still, the thing practically screams for a speeding ticket. The most noticeable external change from the Evo VIII is the front fascia, which has been resculpted with larger air intakes below the front bumper and a single opening on the upper grille. Darker front and tail lamps add to the sinister appearance. The back end is far more sedate, if not bland, but the functional carbon-fiber wing and the large exhaust pipe are both big indications that this car isn't bluffing about its capabilities. . The option-free 2006 Evolution IX we tested came in at $31,399.
Inside, there's no MP3-capable CD player, cruise control, or even a trip computer. On a 3-hour tour of the local back roads, we didn't mind too much--mainly because we had so much fun driving and listening to the engine wail. When we dropped to more sedate speeds, we noticed the six-speaker single-disc Mitsubishi stereo wasn't too bad, but the bass seemed a bit buzzy and muddled. Mitsubishi does offer a 315-watt Infinity seven-speaker system as part of the sunroof/leather option package ($3,120); however, the stereo is a standard DIN unit that isn't integrated with anything, so installing an aftermarket, satellite-ready MP3/CD player wouldn't be too difficult--it's what we'd do.
The 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX wears its WRC heritage proudly with the nearly race-ready interior. The driver and front passenger both get manually reclining Alcantera/leather Recaro seats equipped with shoulder-height slots for a racing harness and substantial bolstering for both the seat back and cushion. When seated, we felt as if we were nestled in a comfortable cocoon (it's nice even for people with large frames) that also provided an amazing amount of lateral support, which we were most thankful for. When braking hard into a corner, we found the pedal positions ideal for heel-and-toe driving, an advanced technique by which we simultaneously brake, downshift, and match engine revs for the next gear.
The simple tilt-only, leather-trimmed Momo steering wheel was a delight to hold, but the short-throw five-speed gearbox, while above average, wasn't ideal. The driver also gets a large central tachometer, while the small speedometer sits off to the side almost as an afterthought. With the speedometer marked up to 170mph and only the even multiples of 10 labeled, it was quite easy to accidentally go over the limit, but we're not sure the CHP would take that as an excuse; fortunately, we didn't have to ask. A radar detector would be a sensible accessory.