LOS ANGELES, December 28, 2015 – Speed, suspension, sound system and recognizable sporty exterior are sellable characteristics of Mitsubishi’s compact Lancer Evolution sedan.
Part race car, part commuter car, part auto mystique, “the Evo” has garnered legendary status in the garages of Mitsu aficionados around the world. But with a changing planet, high price and low number of standard near luxury features, Mitsubishi is bidding farewell to the EVO marquee with its 2015 Lancer Evolution Final Edition.
We were lucky enough to drive a gleaming steel gray 2015 Lancer Evolution GSR for a knee-wrenching, yet happy-to-go-manual week of racing around LA’s gritty streets. Actually, this drive was somewhat bittersweet as our most memorable drive ever was in a race-tuned Lancer EVO at sunset curving down California’s Highway 46 to bucolic Paso Robles wine country.
Want to go all out? Mitsubishi has built only 1,600 Lancer Evolution Final Edition models (with a whopping base MSRP of $37,995). Each one has a numbered plaque to signify the end to this venerable contestant in the four-door sports car market.
Mitsubishi practically invented this racy compact car category and now – 10 generations later – The Lancer Evolution Final Edition is closing out the EVO story.
The “final edition” is based on the GSR model along with some extra-added interior and exterior enhancements to befit this de-launch.
The exterior is enhanced with “final edition” badging along with dark chrome Enkei alloy wheels, glossy black center bumper, dark chrome hood air outlet and front grille surround and black-painted aluminum roof. It comes in just four colors: pearl white, rally red, mercury gray and octane blue.
Another numbered “final edition” plaque sits on the central console plus other enhancements include a black headliner, pillars, sun visors and assist handles. Red stitching accents make the seats, steering wheel, shift knob, console lid, floor mats and e-brake handle pop.
Under the hood, the “final edition” is equipped with a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder turbocharged engine that gets 303 hp (at 6,500 rpm) and 305 lb. ft. torque (at 4,000 rpm).
Of course, being an EVO, the “final edition” model is spec-ed out for the tightest suspension anywhere via Mitsu’s “super all-wheel control system,” which includes Brembo front brake rotors, Bilstein shock absorbers and Eibach springs.
Our road test 2015 Lancer Evolution GSR had similar specs with the same 2.0-liter turbocharged engine. Although the suspension on our GSR was almost impossibly tight and pleasurable, the GSR model is equipped with MacPherson struts rather than Brembos (the anti-lock brakes are, however). We were also given the five-speed manual transmission model for extra driving fun and the aforementioned left knee fitness test.
Certainly driving any Lancer Evolution is thrilling, but this 2015 GSR edition takes off like a rocket in second, third and fourth gears. To accelerate out of first gear takes some doing as the gear-clutch balancing act is rather high on the clutch and, therefore, takes time to get going. But once first gear has been achieved, the EVO orgasmically races full speed through middle gears and is ultimately smooth at high speeds.
In LA’s stop-and-go traffic, however, the EVO’s manual transmission was a bother. Truly, the Lancer Evolution is made for places you can let this wild beast run free like fast-moving freeways, desolate highways, remote mountain byways and sparsely populated suburban sprawl.
Here’s some more notes on our road test of the 2015 Lancer Evolution GSR:
— Race-style steering and handling are superb while the suspension is just sick.
— Doors still have that tin can effect decades after reviewers have shouted “Fix the doors!” in what can be a head-shaking fatal flaw when it comes to a sale in the dealership.
— Infotainment in laughable compared to what’s available today from competitive brands.
— No heated seats, no navigation, no charging inputs and no rear view camera for $37,000?
Mitsubishi’s compact EVO set the bar for four-door, street-worthy racing sedan and has now crashed its own mold. Perhaps only heartfelt and cashed-up Mitsu enthusiasts will be willing to go down that dark financial hole of buying that final edition EVO or a 2015 GSR.
Despite the Lancer’s mountain of faults, EVO is still a race car at heart. And that means it offers a lot to those who love driving and who love driving FAST with race-style steering, handling and suspension. Compared to any other sporty compact, Mitsu’s Lancer EVO line definitely brings an unmatched thrill to everyday driving. She will surely be missed for those who want to race and not just drive.