2012 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR. Click image to enlarge
All of this agility does come at a price, though, in the form of a punishing ride. The suspension is harsh and crashes over even the smallest of road imperfections. The winter tires actually made the ride more pleasant than it should be thanks to the soft rubber, but some bumps were still kidney-splitters. But if a rough ride doesn’t bother you, there isn’t much else wrong with this vehicle aside from an incredibly wide turning radius. Highway cruising is easy and actually comfortable (as long as it is a well-maintained highway). The Evo feels agile and willing to play even in straight-line highway traffic. With gearing meant more for racing than cruising, evident by the engine spinning 3,000 rpm at 100 km/h, the 1,630 kg Evo still returned a relatively good 11.5 L/100 km over my 747-km test drive. Premium fuel is required, however, and with a smallish 55 L tank that triggers the gas light early, frequent trips to the gas station should be expected.
Inside, the Lancer Evolution does its best to hide its economy car roots. The most obvious change from ‘regular’ Lancers is a pair of sculpted Recaro sport seats up front. Although I found them to be comfortable, these are not one-size-fits-all seats. For my narrow frame, the fit was great but for some of my more heavily built co-workers, squeezing in between the steep thigh bolsters was just not happening. My wife couldn’t get the seat high enough, but didn’t care once behind the wheel and on the gas. My number one interior pet peeve reared its head in the Evo: no telescopic steering wheel, which forces me to sit closer to the wheel than I find comfortable.
Rear seat space is decent and I could squeeze my 6’1” body behind either front seat. The trunk on the other hand is tiny at only 195 L of cargo space. There are no fold-down rear seats nor is there a pass-through as the washer fluid reservoir and battery are housed behind the rear seats.
Inside the MR also adds a ton of electric toys like GPS navigation, a seven-inch touchscreen interface, satellite radio and an in-dash CD/DVD player. However, the best interior upgrade for the MR is the 710-watt nine-speaker Rockford-Fosgate Punch premium sound system. Turn the 10-inch dual-voice coil subwoofer up to full power and get ready feel your insides jiggle around to the beat.
The MR that I tested also differs from GSR models by a revised front grille, extra chrome accents, a sunroof, HIDs, standard BBS wheels, leather Recaro seats with leather door accents, a storage bin lid, rain-sensing wipers, keyless entry and push-button start, magnesium paddle shifters, standard roof (vs the GSR’s lightweight aluminum roof) and no rear wing. Think of the MR as the grown up Evo; someone outside of their 20s can drive this vehicle daily and not feel it is too “boy racer”.
So did I love this car? Yes, it should be obvious by now. Could I ever own this car? No. With the irresistible urge to mimic Tommi Mäkinen flying through a rally course special stage I would most likely end up in jail or the hospital in no time. It would be like giving Frank Gallagher from Shameless a free keg of beer. Compared to the Lancer Ralliart I tested last fall, the Evo is a completely different animal. No one who owns a Ralliart should drive this car for fear of suffering from feelings of inadequacy with their current ride. Even with an eye-watering as-tested price of $51,798, the Evo MR just seems worth it. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it just has that magic that few vehicles possess.
Pricing: 2012 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR
Crash test results