Mitsubishi Evo IX MR Review

Andrew Comrie-Picard
by Andrew Comrie-Picard
mitsubishi evo ix mr review

There’s an industrial road outside Chicago that has more Mitsubishi Lancer Evolutions per square mile than anywhere but the factory in Mizushima, Japan. There’s the drag race shop with several 600+hp, carbon- paneled versions vying for space. There’s the tuner shop where literally dozens of Evos flock to dyno. And there’s the rally shop that is widely considered the finest American skunkworks for this type of car. And as I stand in that shop, my own flame-spitting Evo IV rally car sitting on the hoist behind me, I stare at a brand-new charcoal Evo IX MR – the even-higher-performance-spec version – that has only 70 miles on it. And the perfect impression of a tree trunk, molded into the passenger’s side.

The sight is sobering. I mean, I’ve been driving my own Evo on dirt and snow rally roads for years, at speeds regularly over 120mph, and I’ve never hit a tree like this poor schmuck did. But then I’ve been rallying for a long time and have enough stupid crashes on my permanent record to know better than continue down that path (and over the forest and into the tree). Fortunately, there’s another near-new Evo IX MR sitting outside, and the owner foolishly throws me the keys.

I’m not a boy racer. I’m not even a boy. But boy, the IX MR is quite a car. It’s not particularly elegant; the best you could say is that the fender flares, sharp nose, deep chin, and hard-edged wing make it handsome and sinewy. The interior is downright plain for a $35k sports sedan (OK – the Recaro seats are awesome). Unmodified, it actually sits a little too high on its wheels. Unless you know what it is, you’d probably think this bewinged extrovert is like your little brother: high on bluster but slow on the delivery.

But this is your little brother who becomes the school track star and steals your girlfriend. Specs never tell the whole story, but 286hp, AWD with an active center differential, huge Brembo brakes, and all-aluminum suspension arms make for a good opening paragraph. The story continues when you fire up the 2.0L intercooled turbo engine – in the IX for the first time with variable valve timing – and it settles into a contented purr. It’s not until you really get into the throttle that the thing takes off like a scalded cat, albeit a scalded cat with its claws dug about two feet into the pavement.

I can tell you with some authority that this is one of the five best handling cars available in North America. Certainly it is one of two for less than $35k, and it has four doors and a trunk to boot. It’s better than the Subaru WRX STi – tighter, better balanced, transitions faster, feels lighter. The Subaru actually has a better drive layout, with the engine mass lower and the transmission further back, but by sheer bloody-minded suspension engineering the Evo wins hands down.

Yes, the ride is harsh and the appointments spare. But the turn-in is astonishing – sneeze and you’ll change three lanes – and once you’re sliding, you can drift the car in fourth gear, tires smoking, the world coming at you through the side window, correcting with your fingertips. Wanna feel like a superhero? This is your fastest ticket.

Except physics is a hard mistress, and trees are hard objects. Even the Evo can’t give you more run-out room when you simply went in too fast. In fact, it sort of cheats you: it allows you to go so close to the edge – even over the edge – then gather it all up again, time after time. Except that last time when nothing – not your skill, not your pleas to the heavens, and not even the Evo – can save you from being an idiot.

Anyway, the IX MR is that kind of car: a machine that goes so bloody quick so bloody easily that thoughts of death are necessary to prevent its occurrence. And no wonder: the IX MR is an evolution of an earlier Lancer and, before that, the Galant VR4 of the early 1990s. The Evo is, essentially, a Japanese Porsche 911, constantly honed with one thing in mind: dominant performance for a given drive layout. It’s amazing that a company still struggling to find its place in the North American market can produce a single model that is so focused, desirable and damn near perfect that they hardly need to market it.

And so, after having driven perhaps a dozen Evos in anger over the last few years, there’s a new Evo IX RS – the even-lighter-weight version – sitting in my shop, taunting me, about to be built into my next rally car. So much for trying not to be an idiot.

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  • on Mar 01, 2007

    I have a EVO 8 RS. I have owned all kinds of cars before this car (Porsche, VW, Audi, Mercedes, GM/Ponitac, Isuzu, an other Mitsubishi, and a Chrysler), and all I can say is ... I LOVE MY EVO. I love this car so much, I can't wait to up every morning and drive it to work. I wish there was a mountain between my home and office. I must admit, I am a automotive enthusiast and enjoy sport over comfort. But even if you only compare the EVO to other pure sports cars, there is no comparison. The only time I will get another car is replace this one with a new EVO. I think my wife will burry me in my EVO, which is fine by me.

  • Sayahh Is it 1974 or 1794? The article is inconsistent.
  • Laura I just buy a Hyndai Elantra SEL, and My car started to have issues with the AC dont work the air sometimes is really hot and later cold and also I heard a noice in the engine so I went to the dealer for the first service and explain what was hapenning to the AC they told me that the car was getting hot because the vent is not working I didnt know that the car was getting hot because it doesnt show nothing no sign no beep nothing I was surprise and also I notice that it needed engine oil, I think that something is wrong with this car because is a model 23 and I just got it on April only 5 months use. is this normal ? Also my daughter bought the same model and she went for a trip and the car also got hot and it didnt show up in the system she called them and they said to take the car to the dealer for a check up I think that if the cars are new they shouldnt be having this problems.
  • JamesGarfield What charging network does the Polestar use?
  • JamesGarfield Re: Getting away from union plantsAbout a dozen years or so ago, Caterpillar built a huge new engine plant, just down the road here in Seguin TX. Story has it, Caterpillar came to Seguin City council in advance, and told them their plans. Then they asked for no advanced publicity from Seguin, until announcement day. This new plant was gonna be a non-union replacement for a couple of union plants in IL and SC, and Cat didn't want to stir up union problems until the plan was set. They told Seguin, If you about blab this in advance, we'll walk. Well, Seguin kept quiet as instructed, and the plan went through, with all the usual expected tax abatements given.Plant construction began, but the Caterpillar name was conspicuously absent from anywhere on the site. Instead, the plant was described as being a collective of various contractors and suppliers for Caterpillar. Which in fact, it was. Then comes the day, with the big new plant fully operationa!, that Caterpillar comes in and announces, Hey, Yeah it's our plant, and the Caterpillar name boldly goes up on the front. All you contractor folks, welcome aboard, you're now Caterpillar employees. Then, Cat turns and announces they are closing those two union plants immediately, and will be transporting all the heavy manufacturing equipment to Seguin. None of the union workers, just the equipment. And today, the Caterpillar plant sits out there, humming away happily, making engines for the industry and good paying jobs for us. I'd call that a winner.
  • Stuki Moi What Subaru taketh away in costs, dealers will no doubt add right back in adjustments.... Fat chance Subaru will offer a sufficient supply of them.