Expert review written by the Kelley Blue Book vehicle review editorial team.
You'll Like The 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer If...
Drivers who spend time on twisty roads or at the track are sure to lust for the 2008 Mitsubishi Evolution. Behind its sedan exterior is an engine that will work to push you into snug Recaro seats and an all-wheel-drive system that makes even mediocre drivers feel supremely skilled.
You May Not Like The 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer If...
Despite adopting a more sophisticated demeanor for 2008, the Mitsubishi Evolution is a poor excuse for a daily driver, especially in MR form. The ride is harsh, the front Recaro seats confining for larger folks and the new MR’s new twin-clutch transmission is ill suited in stop-and-go traffic.
Mitsubishi’s Evolution returns for 2008 with a lighter and more powerful aluminum engine, sharpened handling courtesy of a new Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC) system and, with the MR, a performance-oriented six-speed Twin Clutch Sportronic Shift Transmission (TC-SST).
Perspective is a funny thing. Those considering the Evolution as a fast and capable toy will surely appreciate the deep Recaro bucket seats that are perfect for keeping bodies planted in corners, the moderately comfortable rear bench for times when pesky passengers must be considered and the leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. Conversely, those looking at the Evolution as a rather expensive small sedan just might take note of the low-grade interior materials, the bolstered Recaros that can be hard to exit and the optional subwoofer that eats up precious trunk space (a folding rear seat is not available).
Like the Lancer sedan on which it’s based, the 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution was thoroughly redesigned for 2008. The Lancer’s new look helps to separate this five-passenger sedan from a well-populated pack, due in no small measure to the car’s large grille and aggressive stance. Evolution models take things a step further, adding wider alloy wheels, a taller spoiler, vents on the front fenders and hood and a rear diffuser.
Models such as the BMW 135i or Infiniti G37 provide smoother rides but, for extreme handling, clench down on your rattled fillings and go with the Evo. Brembo components make it possible to brake late and hard into corners, the all-wheel-drive system allows the driver to roll on the throttle relatively early for impressive corner exit speeds and the responsive steering is constantly providing feedback. In terms of the engine, there’s a bit of initial turbo lag, but midrange power is readily available and bountiful. The Twin Clutch Sportronic Shift Transmission (TC-SST) suffers a delay upon take off and is generally sloppy at slow speeds, making the GSR a better choice for stop-and-go traffic. Super Sport, the most aggressive of the TC-SST’s three modes, maximizes engine rpm but features harsh gear changes. Steering-wheel paddles and a manual mode give drivers the ability to initiate nearly instantaneous shifts.
Mitsubishi’s sportiest and most advanced model has one primary competitor, the Subaru WRX STI, and several secondary competitors, including the BMW 135i Coupe and the Infiniti G37 Coupe. Buyers are currently paying close to the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the 2008 Evolution, but that could change, so it’s a good idea to check the Fair Purchase Prices prior to negotiating with a dealer. Prices start at about $33,500 for the GSR and $39,000 for the MR; a fully loaded MR is about $44,000, or $3,000 more than a decked-out STI. The Subaru may have the advantage in terms of its fully-loaded price, yet a stronger resale value means Mitsubishi owners should see less depreciation when trade-in time comes around.
In addition to a 291-horsepower engine, the 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution offers buyers standard goods such as a Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC) system, 18-inch alloy wheels wrapped in Yokohama performance tires and ventilated Brembo antilock disc brakes. The Evolution MR betters the GSR, with Bilstein and Eibach suspension components, Brembo brakes with two-piece rotors, BBS wheels, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity with voice recognition and high-intensity discharge (HID) headlights. Every Evolution rolls off the assembly line with a 140-watt sound system and safety features such as front-side and side-curtain airbags and a knee airbag for the driver.
GSR models can be had with a Sight Sound and Spoiler Package that outfits the base model with a rear spoiler sourced from the MR, a 650-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system with a six-disc CD changer, six months of SIRIUS Satellite Radio service and keyless ignition. The MR is available with a Technology Package that tacks on the 650-watt stereo, this time integrated with a touch-screen navigation system and 30-gigabyte hard drive.
Twin Clutch Sportronic Shift Transmission (TC-SST)Though it might drive you mad during the congested daily commute, the TC-SST does have its place. With three available modes – Normal, Sport and Super Sport – the driver can transform the Evolution from a relatively calm cruiser to a high-revving sport sedan itching to rip up the local track. Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC)The Super All-Wheel Control system is partly responsible for transforming the Lancer into a genuine performance machine. Components include an Active Center Differential (ACD) with settings engineered to match road conditions, Active Yaw Control (AYC) that improves handling into and out of corners and an Active Stability Control (ASC) system.
Under the Hood
Packaged under the all-wheel-drive 2008 Mitsubishi Evolution’s hood is a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The powerplant is 27 pounds lighter, courtesy of its new aluminum (rather than cast-iron) block, and benefits from the use of a more durable chain replacing the previous model’s timing belt. Engine output has increased a bit, with the Evolution boasting more torque yet 14 fewer horses than the Subaru WRX STI. GSR models deliver power via an improved five-speed manual gearbox, whereas the MR uses the new TC-SST automated manual transmission featuring three progressively aggressive shift modes as well as steering wheel-mounted magnesium paddles. Like its competitors, the Evolution requires premium fuel; we recorded 15.6 mpg in our MR test car.2.0-liter in-line four Turbocharged291 horsepower @ 6500 rpm300 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/22 (manual); 17/22 (automatic)
After a hiatus for the 2007 model year, the 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, known in enthusiast circles as the Evo X (ten), arrives with bold styling and a long list of upgrades designed to give the 305-horsepower Subaru Impreza WRX STI a run for its money. Included in the transformation are a 291-horsepower engine, more robust manual and all-new twin-clutch transmissions and an advanced all-wheel-drive system that delivers on its promise of extremely capable handling. Coupled with the Evo’s hardware are plenty of creature comforts, ranging from deeply-bolstered Recaro seats to a touch-screen navigation system. Put it all together and you get a wonderful driver’s car, but one that might be a little too rough around the edges for mainstream buyers.