Mitsubishi's Lancer Evolution played an integral role in securing the brand's reputation in motorsports. Forged and proven on the world's foremost rally circuits, the Evolution gave buyers a high-tech, super-potent compact sedan that could keep pace with sports cars twice its price.
However, 2015 marks the final year of the Evolution, and after production ceases, there are no plans to produce another Evolution. It's somewhat unfortunate given the fact that the Evolution had a one-generation run after its launch in 2008 in Canada.
As a sort of last hurrah, Mitsubishi has put together a special Final Edition trim, which is based on the GSR trim level. 350 of these cars will be headed to Canadian shores, and all will wear forged BBS alloy wheels, Recaro front seats, proximity key with push-button start, HID headlamps, red interior stitching, and a shiny coat of gloss black on the front bumpers, hood intake, and roof panel. Under the hood, Final Edition cars also get high-performance sodium-filled exhaust valves, which help the engine produce a smidge more power - 303 hp and 305 lb-ft of torque. Being based on the GSR, the Final Edition car comes exclusively with a five-speed manual transmission.
2015 also sees the Lancer Evolution receive a new console with improved cupholders, and standard power folding exterior mirrors with integrated turn signals.
Standard Evolution GSRs and the MR use a 291-hp, 300 lb-ft of torque 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine. No fancy direct fuel injection here, just good-old fashioned high-performance tuning. GSR models use a five-speed manual transmission, while the MR uses Mitsubishi’s TC-SST dual-clutch automatic.
While the Evolution shares its basic structure with the Lancer, it's a completely different beast to live with. A quick look down the spec sheet reveals Mitsubishi's priorities: driving enjoyment. Springs by Eibach, dampers by Bilstein, wheels by Enkei or BBS, brakes by Brembo, seats by Recaro - it's a tuner's dream, straight from the factory. Every outing in an Evolution is adrenaline-pumping; it's loud, it's hard, but it's a genuine high-octane thrill ride. Grip from the sophisticated all-wheel drive system boggles the mind.
The Evolution, however, does not offer much reprieve from the standard Lancer's shortcomings. Fancy seats and special instrument cluster aside, there's nothing different about the cabin. While the Evolution can transport five adults in total, luggage space is no better than a what a roadster can muster.
When it first went on sale, the Evolution's chief rival was the Subaru WRX STI. Today, it faces the Volkswagen Golf R, BMW M235i, and Mercedes-Benz's wild CLA 45 AMG in the arena of high-performance compact cars. 2016 will also see the arrival of Ford's very rapid Focus RS. All of its rivals offer more by way of technology and refinement.
For old-school rally-inspired thrills, the Lancer Evo is hard to top. Mitsubishi will offer 350 Lancer Evolution Final Editions to Canadian buyers, with prices selling for $49,498. The standard Evolution GSR sells for $41,998, while the top-of-the-line MR retails for $51,998.
This vehicle has not yet been reviewed