This is not so much of a long term test, as it is a long timer test. The lovely red Evo in the pics is a 2010 model that has been on the press fleet for a long, long time. Most press cars come off the manufacturers fleet after 10 or 12,000 km, but this poor beast has well over 25,000 on the clock. Hand the keys to a hot rod to some auto journos and they become teenage hooligans again, so those 25,000 km are probably more like 100,000 km in the hands of a loving owner.
This car has had its wheels refinished recently and yet all 4 BBS rims look like they were sourced from a scrap yard. The car has been repainted and looks like someone decided to detail it with steel wool. Overall, Journos Behaving Badly have beaten the living daylights out of this 4 door rocketship. In other words, this is the perfect vehicle to see how the Mitsubishi’s flagship stands up to the real world.
The first time I drove an Evo X (it might have even been the same car) was shortly after it was released and I was still working as a Subaru dealership Service Manager. This may surprise some of you, but I thought that the WRX Sti was just ok. Yes, it was fast, it just felt a bit too mature for the juvenile that still lurks within my soul. Getting behind the wheel of the first version of Mitsubishi’s weapon to be sold in Canada was a revelation. This was how the STi should feel. The car felt rough and raw, like a race car that isn’t happy until the driver starts to pile on the throttle. It darted around on the road on acceleration and even worse under braking, because the suspension was set up for a quicker turn in, just like a race car. Here was a car that appealed to the hoon in me.
After all of the abuse, our tester felt exactly the same way as the first one I drove 2 years ago. I expected that the suspension might have softened up a bit or perhaps even started to make the odd clunk here and there as many long term media cars do. To Mitsubishi’s credit, the suspension and steering felt fantastic. That is no small feat considering the pummeling that the wheels have taken.
Our tester was an MR model that mates Mitsubishi’s Twin-Clutch SportronicÃ‚Â® Shift Transmission to the magnificent 2.0L 4 cylinder turbo engine. This engine produces 291 horsepower and 300 ft/lb of torque, which propels the Lancer from zero to jail in record time. I’m not a huge fan of the dual clutch type of transmission, however they work well when done right. When I first drove the MR, the Twin Clutch SST felt as good as the unit VW uses in the GTI and close to Porsche’s award winning PDK. The unit in our tester felt like it was suffering a bit, being a mite more clunky than I recall in stop and go and not shifting as crisply as the others on hard acceleration. Don’t get me wrong, it still worked well, but the transmission is often the weak point in any performance drivetrain because it is subjected to mistreatment by the driver and this unit was not a garage queen!
The interior of a press car can be a frightening space once it has been on the road for a while. Even if it has been kept clean, most press cars get used in ways that folks would never use their own cars for. As a result, seating surfaces wear out, creaks and rattles make themselves known and trim gets damaged. It is a testament to the quality of materials that Mitsubishi has used that the interior in our tester was showing zero signs of wear, looking just the way it did when it was new.
It is easy for a manufacturer to build a nice car, stuff a monster powerplant in it and impress drivers off the showroom floor. Even building a car that will run forever isn’t that tough, but building one that offers reliability and retains that new car feeling is quite an accomplishment. Not only is the 2010 Evolution just as sporting as it was at launch, but it stands up to life real world despite auto writers best attempts to wear it out.