Introduction: 2013 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution GSR
It's full name might be Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, but it's best known simply as the Evo. Originally built just for the Japanese market, Mitsubishi began to sell the Evolution in other markets in the late 90's. Eventually, the car landed here in the United States as the eighth generation came to be in 2003. While Japan enjoyed Evo I through VII up to that point, the U.S. was excited to finally get its hands on Evo VIII.
Fast forward to 2013, and the Lancer Evolution is well into its tenth generation. Evo X was launched at the end of 2007 for Japan and beginning of 2008 for the U.S. It's offered in two versions; the GSR, which features a five-speed manual gearbox, and the MR, which is equipped with a six-speed paddle-shiftable dual-clutch transmission. The MR version also boasts a handful of upgraded amenities such as keyless entry and Eibach springs.
The Evo GSR, however, is a bit more unrefined. It's more raw. And it's the one we're going to focus on today...
Pricing and Trim Levels: 2013 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution GSR
The 2013 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution GSR starts at $34,695. The base car comes fairly well equipped, but a few optional packages are offered. A Sunroof and Leather Package runs $1,800, while the Sight and Sound Package costs $2,100, and includes upgraded HID headlamps and a Rockford Fosgate sound system. If you want the first package, you are required to also get the second package. That pushes pricing up to a bit under $40,000.
Competition: 2013 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution GSR
Lining up next to the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, we have two competitors from different automakers. One is the real deal, while the other is practically a luxury car by comparison. We're talking about the Subaru Impreza WRX STI, and the all-new Volkswagen Golf R. All three cars are four-door, all-wheel-drive, turbocharged machines that cost around $35,000. The Golf R, however, is a much nicer car in all aspects compared to the Subaru and the Mitsubishi. Fit and finish is top notch, and the interior features are a class above the Japanese examples. That's not what the Evo is all about though, and it, along with the STI, are far more entertaining machines.
The STI and Evo are, in fact, natural enemies. Both are World Rally-honed swords that can tear across the terrain, be it tarmac or a desolate dirt road. These sports sedans both get from Point A to Point B with turbos whistling and all four wheels working to keep the metal away from the trees. The STI has a bit more horsepower, while the Evo has a bit more torque. The Mitsubishi weighs a bit more, and the STI is one or two tenths quicker from 0-60 miles per hour. Both are pretty evenly matched, and it really comes down to brand allegiance if you were forced to choose.
Exterior: 2013 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution GSR
If a car is going to be driven aggressively, we believe that the exterior should reflect that while it's simply standing still. Mitsubishi must feel the same way because the Lancer Evolution looks like its rearing to hit the road before the key has even been turned. The nose is massive, dark, and features the sharply cut headlamps on either side. Above that is the hood with its large vents. Along the side of the Evo are more sharp feature lines, as well as venting behind the front wheels that help keep air moving over the body. Finally, the rear end is home to the massive spoiler that says this car means business. This is no aftermarket park-bench style unit slapped on the trunk, but one that looks more at home on your average rally car.
The overall exterior aesthetic speaks volumes about what the driving experience is like. It's a visual representation of what's in store... and it works perfectly.
Interior: 2013 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution GSR
While the outside of the Evo is pure aggression, the interior is far more reserved and spartan. Some might call it purposeful, thanks to the heavily bolstered Recaro seats and basic materials. It certainly serves its purpose, and basic amenities like satellite radio and climate control are to be found. Still, it's possible to remain sporty while also offering up a more premium cabin space.
Additionally, unless you're on the smaller side, the seats get rather tiring after awhile. This is not a road trip machine, but a point and shoot funmobile that's comfortably supportive when you're driving it the way the engineers intended. If you're running errands though, the stiff seats get old fast, while the lack of features inside becomes more apparent.
Sitting in the cabin will leave you wondering where your $35,000 went.
(Here's a hint, you'll figure it out when you slam down the throttle)
Powertrain and Fuel Economy: 2013 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution GSR
A turbocharger and four cylinders can be a recipe for exhilartion when done correctly. Mitsubishi happened to nail this equation rather well. Under the hood sits a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine that's both turbocharged and intercooled. This wonderful little mill churns out 291 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque, which is then routed through a five-speed manual transmission and out to all four wheels.
Mitsubishi employs its Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC) system on the Evo. This all-wheel-drive system utilizes an active center differential, a limited-slip front differential, and a rear differential that uses active yaw control. In short, the Evo sends power to the wheels that need it, and it does so efficiently and brilliantly.
All of that power and all-wheel-drive goodness will use up fuel at a quick rate. The EPA estimates that the Evolution will return 17 miles per gallon driving in the city, and up to 23 miles per gallon out on the highway. You'll be tempted to watch your own fuel economy figures undercut those of the EPA... and it's very easy to do just that.
Driving Impressions: 2013 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution GSR
Insert the key, twist it, and hear the hum of life burst forth from in front of you. The 2.0-liter turbo is spinning, and it's eager to run. With the gear lever in first, it's as easy as easing off the clutch while providing a bit of throttle. Soon it becomes more throttle, and the Evo is rolling forward. You're driving along and the revs are building... and then it happens.
In its most inelegant yet highly desirable form it arrives and rockets the Mitsubishi down the road. It comes on strong and fast, and it's awesome. Just plant your foot and let the S-AWC sort it all out. Once it's time to setup for a corner, you know that you're ready because the suspension underneath the car is designed to keep it confident through the twisties, and that it is. You don't even need traction control on because all of the differentials, the suspension, and those wide 245/40R tires are holding everything in place.
Finally, hit the brakes and watch as it all comes to a quick, efficient stop. Nearly 14-inch rotors up front and 13-inch units out back haul everything back down with no fuss. It's just brake pedal - pressed, Evo - stopped.
Our only gripes come from longer driving sessions, when the ultra-bolstered Recaro seats begin to become a literal pain in the ass... and back. For short duty, they're wonderul and keep you planted as the car dances through the canyon. Over time though, they get rather uncomfortable.
Still, we could live with the seats to get another shot at feeling that turbo spool up, and to feel that nose surge forward as if it were sniffing out more curves.
Pros and Cons: 2013 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution GSR
- Manic motor and its turbo spooling action
- S-AWC all-wheel-drive system
- Aggressive exterior matches the level of potent performance found within
- Interior seems cheap, and it's clear that the cost to entry covers pretty much just the powertrain.
- Recaro seats are not suited to longer trips
Final Thoughts: 2013 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution GSR
Mitsubishi isn't in the best place right now, here in the United States. Its volume is low, and its dealer network is spotty. Still, the Lancer Evolution is a very high mark for the automaker. That said, it's getting a bit long in the tooth, and desperately needs to be refreshed. Mitsubishi has stated that it would begin working on the next Evo in 2012, and the car should arrive sometime within the three years to follow. It will, however, most likely feature some sort of electric assistance to achieve its sporting performance numbers, while also reducing its carbon footprint.
We're fine with the hybrid kick, as long as it doesn't cut down on the cars soul. This is a wild, manic machine that's a true blast to hustle around. It might be a bit on the expensive side, especially based on the lack of refinement in the cabin, but that suspension, all-wheel-drive system, and engine all help erase some of that feeling.
We love the Evo X... but we can't wait to see what's in store for Evo XI.