2009 Mitsubishi Evo MR
2009 Mitsubishi Evo MR. Click image to enlarge

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2009 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution

North Vancouver, British Columbia – The fourth-generation Lancer Evolution arrived in Canada last year to the delight of Evo enthusiasts who had been waiting for a Canada-legal Evo for many years. You can read Autos’s first driving impressions here and here and our full test drive report here. You can also see our Evo vs STI track comparison here.

For 2009, the Evo returns mostly unchanged, except for the addition of a lightweight RS model ($39,998) designed for weekend racers: non essential features such as the air conditioning, sound system, sound deadening materials and the rear spoiler were removed to save weight.

2009 Mitsubishi Evo MR
2009 Mitsubishi Evo MR. Click image to enlarge

Returning for 2009 are the Evo GSR model with five-speed manual transmission ($41,498) and the Evo MR with Mitsubishi’s six-speed Twin-Clutch Sportronic Shift Transmission ($47,498).

Driving impressions

Now that the initial excitement surrounding the Evo legend has died down, it’s easier to examine this rally-bred super sedan with a more objective eye. Evo fans may grimace when I say this, but the Evo is not an easy car to live with on a daily basis. The ride is rough and downright punishing at times – you’ll find yourself avoiding potholes and pavement breaks; the twin-clutch six-speed transmission is great once you get going, but in rush-hour traffic it drops into lower gears with a thud and generally dislikes going slowly. The wonderfully supportive Recaro seats hug the driver and front passenger, but their big side bolsters make getting in and out difficult, and average-size adults will feel they are sitting too low in the car – the driver’s seat does not have a height adjuster. And the trunk is smaller than average because of the placement of the battery behind the rear seat and the AWD hardware. Oh, and that gigantic rear spoiler partly obscures the view out back.

In a way, even Mitsubishi has acknowledged this: their new-for-2009 Lancer Ralliart sedan and Sportback models resemble the Evo but feature a de-tuned version of the Evo’s 2.0-litre turbo engine with better fuel economy, a less sophisticated all-wheel drive system, less aggressive twin-clutch transmission software, a softer suspension, and a much lower price. Having driven both, I’d recommend the “Evo-light” Ralliart model as a better choice for daily use.

2009 Mitsubishi Evo MR
2009 Mitsubishi Evo MR. Click image to enlarge

But for those who place a priority on performance over comfort, the Evo is still the one. Its intercooled, turbocharged 2.0-litre DOHC, 16-valve, MIVEC, four-cylinder engine pumps out 291 horsepower at 6,500 r.p.m. and 300 lb-ft of peak torque at 4,000 r.p.m. (compared to the Ralliart’s 237 hp at 6000 r.p.m. and 253 lb-ft torque at 3,000 r.p.m.). Though there is some turbo lag, acceleration is fast and furious with a 0 to 100 km/h of 5.6 seconds according to the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), a tad slower than the Subaru WRX STI’s 5.2 seconds. Surprisingly, the engine is fairly quiet at idle with very little vibration entering the cabin. It also maintains a low burble at freeway cruising speeds, doing about 2,500 r.p.m. at 100 km/h in sixth gear. Fuel consumption varies widely depending on which transmission mode you’re in and how you drive, but official (L/100 km) figures are 12.9 City, 9.0 Highway. It uses Premium gas.

The Evo’s ferocious handling and grip comes courtesy of Mitsubishi’s Super All Wheel Control (S-AWC), a sophisticated all-wheel drive system with an active centre differential, active rear differential with yaw control, and stability control. It also incorporates feedback from the Sport ABS braking system. Using these technologies, the S-AWC system can apportion drive torque to any individual wheel. As well, drivers can manually choose three AWD settings calibrated for three different road surfaces: Tarmac, Gravel and Snow.

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