Road Running With Mitsubishi
By Roger Witherspoon
The mid morning sun burned the mist from the highway, leaving a long, smooth
ribbon of concrete winding through sun-splashed Kentucky mountains and shaded
valleys. There was little company except for a lazily circling hawk and the only sound
was the low rumble from the twin chrome turbos protruding from the rear of the Lancer
The rumble increased to a low roar as I pushed the accelerator towards the floor,
tapping the chrome paddle shift up to sixth gear as the speedometer nudged past 130
miles per hour as the hills flew by. A curve approached, and I tapped the paddle shift
down to fifth gear while dropping the speed to 105. The huger spoiler over the trunk,
which neatly dissects the rear windshield, worked with the traction control to prevent any
sway as the Mitsubishi Racer rounded the slow curve with a mountain on the inside and a
valley on the right. The world flew by in a green blur as the 18-inch wheels gripped the
road tighter than a newly drafted NBA player grips his signing bonus check. I came
smoothly out of the curve, tapped t6he paddle shift back up to 6th gear and zipped backup
to 130. That was still below the Lancer Evolution’s top speed of 155, but it was fast
enough for this run.
The Lancer Evolution MR is a $42,000 four-door sedan camouflaged as a street
racer. It has a head turning design, from the aggressive front with the open mouthed grill
to huge spoiler in the rear. It is the type of styling which some people just can’t resist
touching. And if that doesn’t grab one’s attention, the sound of rumbling from the twin
exhausts whenever the keyless ignition is turned on usually grabs the attention of anyone
Under the hood is a four cylinder engine with twin-scroll turbochargers capable of
cranking out 291 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque – a lot for a relatively small
car. It can zip from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 5.2 seconds, which makes it quicker and
faster than many or the more expensive roadsters it passes on the highway.
The driving experience is what you would expect from a high speed performance
car. Both the leather-wrapped racing stick and the paddle shift are instantly responsive
Inside is a mixed bag. There is probably everything that the youngster looking for
a hot rod would want but it may not be a comfortable ride for the older men who can
actually afford it. The seats, for example, were designed for guys who are young enough
to still wear long, slim fit jeans and who are at least six feet tall. They are small, hard and
rigid, which ensures that the driver stays put during a high speed turn, but that is not the
most comfortable on long, cross country treks. The seats, which have cloth bottoms and
leather backs, are manually operated and can be adjusted forward and back, but not up
and down to fit different heights. They can not be heated, which is surprising for a car in
this price range.
In addition, the seat backs go nearly to the ceiling. As a result, it is nearly
impossible to see over or around the passenger seat, obliterating any sight lines and
making it difficult to see traffic on the side of the car. And for styling and functional
reasons, the rear spoiler is an inch thick, and blots out the road – and any cars – more
than about 50 feet behind the Lancer Evolution. As a result, you have to rely almost
exclusively on the rear view mirrors for navigating through high speed traffic, and that
can be scary when backing up in a crowded parking lot with oblivious children
There is a lot inside, particularly in the electronics, for those who are looking for a
sporty ride. It comes with Bluetooth cell phone connectivity, which is easy to use and
effective. The navigation system has a touch screen and is intuitive to operate – you don’t
need to memorize a manual to work it. The map on the navigation screen, for example,
changes scale automatically – shifting from as little as every 350 feet when cruising
through residential streets, to a quarter of a mile scale when racing down the highway.
The automatic adjustment is speed sensitive – at 80 mph it jumped from an eighth to a
quarter of a mile automatically, with a quick notice of the change. It is a smart system
equally adept at keeping you from getting lost on strange highways or strange rural roads.
The entertainment system comes with Am/FM and Sirius satellite radio, though it
comes with just a single disc CD player which is behind the navigation screen. They
make up for that seeming lack, however, with a 30 GB hard drive which can memorize
CDs and allows you to create your own music box, turning the Lancer Evolution into a
high speed iPod.
The sound reverberates through a 650-watt Rockford-Fosgate system with nine
speakers and a 10-inch sub woofer which makes the sides of the car reverberate with the
cranked up bass line. It is as adept at delivering every note in either a fast-paced,
Kentucky bluegrass number by Mountain Heart, or the meticulous jazz of Keiko Matsui.
It also has an audio/visual connection which allows you to play video games using an in-
dash joy stick, or play a movie when the car is in park. The Evolution comes with
fingertip controls for the cruise command, audio system, and phone on the leather-
wrapped steering wheel.
The Lancer Evolution –MR is not for everybody. But if you are looking for hot
rod on a modest budget, and your preference is thrills instead of creature comfort, than
road running in the Mitsubishi Racer is a fast, good-looking way to travel.
2008 Lancer Evolution - Mitsubishi Racer
EPA Mileage: 17 MPG City 22 MPG Highway
As Tested Mileage: 9.3 MPG City 17.7 MPG Highway
Performance / Safety:
0 – 60 MPH 5.2 Seconds
Top Speed 155 MPH
2.0-Liter DOHC I-4 aluminum engine producing 291 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of
torque; twin-scroll turbocharger; twin-clutch, sportronic,6-speed, manual shift
transmission; paddle shift; all wheel control; Brembo ventilated disc brakes; front strut
tower bar; active yaw control; rear limited slip differential; front & rear stabilizer bars;
fog lights; high density headlights; dual front air bags; front seat mounted side air bags;
side curtain airbags; driver’s side knee airbag; 18-inch wheels.
Interior / Comfort:
AM/FM Sirius satellite radio; 650-watt Rockford-Fosgate premium sound system with 9
speakers and sub woofer; 30-GB hard drive music server with MP3 & USB connection;
Single CD, DVD player; navigation system; Bluetooth cell phone connection; leather
wrapped steering wheel and shift knob; leather seats.