The devil made us do it. We recorded one of the lowest mpg figures with the 2013 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR we’ve ever seen during our weeklong foray with Mitsubishi’s four-door sports car. The only lower number we seen was with the 2013 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. Admittedly, we’re not comparing apples to apples, or at least apples in the same place treated the same way.
But fuel mileage is not the point. Both of these automobiles are ultra-high performance vehicles, each in its own way. The Camaro, of course, is a classic V-8 front-engine, rear wheel-drive All-American brawler. The Lancer Evolution MR, not to use too much of a cliché, an expert at karate, a regular kung fu fighter.
It is, as the name indicates, a Mitsubishi Lancer, the Mitsu answer to the compact sedan. We tested a 2011 Mitsubishi Lancer GTS, the top naturally-aspirated front-drive version of the Lancer (and since then renamed the GT, having lost its “S”), and found it “enthusiastic about winding roads, the sport suspension living up to its name,” though with only 168 horsepower and a continuously variable transmission, the spirit was willing though the flesh somewhat less (though at least more than the base DE’s 148 ponies). Long on smileage, we called it. The Lancer Ralliart, on the other hand, has all-wheel drive and a considerably stouter 237 horsepower under the hood.
The Lancer Ralliart, however, must tip its hat to the Lancer Evolution. Named after special-purpose high-performance rally cars—rally rules refer to it as an “evolution” of regular production vehicles—the 2013 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution is powered by a 291 horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four cylinder. It comes in two variants, one the Evolution GSR, with a five-speed manual transmission, and our test vehicle, the Evolution MR, equipped with the six-speed TC-SST twin-cutch automatic.
Both GSR and MR have Mitsubishi’s Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC) all-wheel drive system that “consists of a 4-wheel-drive Active Center Differential (ACD) accompanied by an Active Yaw Control (AYC) rear differential, a helical gear-type limited-slip front differential, Active Stability Control (ASC) and Sport ABS brakes with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD).” That’s according to Mitsubishi and it’s a mouthful but it’s what makes the Mitsu Evo be what the Mitsu Evo is.
Naturally, wheels are big, at 18×8.5-in., the GSR with Enkei cast-alloy and the MR equipped with BBS forged-alloy wheels. Brakes are by Brembo—of course—four-piston front calipers with 13.8-in. rotors and two-piston rear with 13.0-in. rotors. The MR gets lightweight two-piece brake rotors at the front wheels, reducing unsprung weight by 2.9 lbs each.
While the GSR has a sport suspension setup, the Lancer Evolution MR goes a step beyond, with upgraded suspension package that includes Eibach springs and Bilstein shock absorbers. Both also have inverted Bilstein shocks in front, reducing unsprung weight, and sophisticated multilink rear suspension.
Mitsubishi keeps weight down overall using aluminum for the roof, hood, front fenders, and front and rear bumper beams, and by placing the battery and the windshield washer fluid tank inside the trunk area taking weight of the front end and moving it towards the rear.