Evo through the Eyes of...

Four different perspectives of Australia's greatest bang-for-buck supercar - the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX...

By Michael Knowling

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At a glance...

  • Four people's perspective on the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX
  • We all know its specs and performance - but what's it really like?

The Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX is a car with a reputation for speed. If you’ve read our previous review (Evo 9 has Arrived) there’s a good chance you’re already aware of its specs – 206kW, Super Active Yaw Control, Active Centre diff, Brembo brakes and full aero package – so we won’t recite what you already know.

But how well does the Evo stack up from a range of perspectives? Is it a hard-edged racer posing as a street car or is it something that’s genuinely useable? We get feedback from four drivers experienced with high-performance cars...

Meet the Drivers...

Chris is a 54 year old proprietor of a cleaning business who has recently owned a Holden Commodore SS 5.7 and a HSV GTS 300kW. He currently drives a Subaru Liberty 3.0RB, Cobra replica and Datsun 1600 Sports soft-top.

Andy is a 33 year old firefighter who currently owns his second 2000 Subaru Impreza WRX (with light tuning mods).

Mellissa is a 26 year old child care worker who has recently owned a lightly modified Nissan Pintara 2.4 and Daihatsu Charade Turbo. She currently owns a tweaked Nissan 180SX.

Ray is a 56 year old retiree who has recently owned a Subaru Liberty RS fitted with a high-flow exhaust. It’s a car he wishes he never sold.

And how do I know all these people? Chris is a former neighbour, Andy is a friend, Mellissa is my wife and Ray my dad!

Chris’ Impressions

“The handling is the go for this car.

“Through these medium speed corners it feels very secure. The rear of my [now sold] HSV GTS would have moved around where this car feels very controlled. It’s extremely forgiving – there was a small patch of sand on one of the corners it didn’t even notice. I think it would be a great performance car for a relatively inexperienced driver.

“There’s not a lot of body roll and, to me, it feels like a go-cart. The steering is also very good – direct but not too fast in response.

“You can feel the undulations of the road through the steering and it can tram-line so you need to keep a grip of the steering wheel. But I like the feel of it. The suspension is pretty right for this type of car – it’s tight and you get bounced more than in a HSV but I think it’s acceptable. But it needs a different set of tyres – there’s a lot of rumble and, because of that, I don’t think it’s the sort of car you’d want to drive long distance.

“A car like this should also have cruise control. It’s also missing any real seat adjustment but I do like the driving position. The seats are also very comfortable and have good support. Visibility is pretty good – the big rear wing isn’t a problem.”

And what of the Evo’s turbocharged 2-litre engine?

“The engine feels a bit agricultural – it’s not what I’d call a classy engine. The Holden V8 and HSV are more refined and smoother. There also a few whining noises from somewhere and the exhaust note is a bit disappointing – I’d want a car like this to have a nice sound.

“Sometimes after I back off the throttle, like for a gear change, the engine tends to hold revs which I find annoying. It can also be jerky when gently on/off the throttle.

“The gearbox has a sporty type of shift but sixth gear is hard to find – I need to be quite firm with it. The engine isn’t really responsive in sixth or even fifth gear when driving at around 100 km/h – it really needs to go back to fourth. At above 3000 rpm the engine is okay.

“The brakes feel reasonable but I would’ve thought the Brembos would have more bite [tested with a medium amount of pedal pressure] . The handbrake lever also comes up way too far – it might need adjusting.

“I think this a very much a fun car - but , with the lack of some bits and pieces, it’s not for me. I might be too old for it... [laughs] To me it’s worth about 50 grand. With the equipment it has, the car kind of reminds me of the cut-price version of the Holden SS – the SV8.”

Mellissa’s Impressions

“I like the car – it’s very easy to drive.

“The steering feels similar to my 180SX’s – I like the weight and response. It makes the car feel very precise. But it tramlines badly. I find it tiring to drive.

“The engine is okay. It’s a quick car but it’s also pretty weak that it can’t reverse up a steep driveway without slipping the clutch or giving it some revs from the start. It’s also pretty noisy in a negative kind of way – it’s not a sporty sounding engine.

“Adjusting the seats in this car is difficult. There’s no driver’s seat height adjustment and I find that I’m sitting too low. It’s also difficult to get my hand on the winder for the backrest – there’s not enough space. The inside of the front seats also rub against the centre console – it’s almost like the seats were added at the last minute...

“The interior is also pretty basic given the car’s price. It doesn’t have electric seats, cruise control or even a courtesy light for the glovebox. It’s also unusual that it doesn’t have steering wheel controls for the stereo.

“The car feels great through corners but in normal driving I find the tyre noise unbearable – it’s mainly when slowing down. And the turning circle is huge. When it hits full lock I expect there to be another turn of the wheel.

“At around AUD$60,000 [with the optional Performance Pack comprising lightweight BBS wheels and Bilstein struts] I don’t think the price is too bad. But I can’t see it being used as an every day car. As a second car I think it’d be great.”

Andy’s Impressions

“From the passenger seat, this car feels quicker than my WRX - but it doesn’t feel that way when I’m driving it. I think they’re fairly similar in performance. But I like the gear ratios – they helps get rid of some of the lag. The engine is also pretty quiet compared to my WRX [with a big exhaust] .

“I like the feel of the brakes and gearshift – you always know when it’s gone into gear. Better than my Subaru. The clutch is also pretty quick to engage so it’d be pretty easy to stall.

“The steering I think takes some getting used to. It’s really responsive and [on B-grade country roads] you can feel it tugging – it’s not the sort of car you’d want to let go of the steering wheel. And, yeah, the turning circle is terrible. I’d hate to drive it through a tight carpark.

“Apart from the steering the car feels very sure-footed. It doesn’t move around much at all but, I see it does have some pretty big tyres [235/45 17]. The tyres also have a pretty chunky tread which is making some road noise but, overall, I think it’s pretty quiet. I think it’s a comfortable car. The ride is pretty much what I expected – it’s firm but not much firmer than my WRX.

“I like the interior – it’s kind of minimalist but it’s trimmed really nicely. I like the leather and suede. It also has pretty good interior space. More than my WRX.

“Looks good too – I like it.”

Ray’s Impressions

“Geez, the gearbox feels notchy and the handbrake lever comes up way too far.

“There’s also a lot of noise from gearbox or the tyres. It’s shocking.

“But the engine is great. It’s more responsive than my [sold] Subaru Liberty RS and it really likes to spin – it bloody goes. I can also put into a high gear sooner. The gearing is more flexible.

“It feels very secure. I’m not going to push it here – it really needs to go onto a racetrack, I think – but I know it’s incredible in handling. The ride is okay – it’s firm but not uncomfortable.

“The steering is very quick but it’s not nervous. You can feel everything on the road. I’m surprised there are no controls on the steering wheel – most new cars seem to have that.

“It’s not bad inside for space – there’s plenty of room behind my seat and the boot is pretty big. But look at the boot carpet – that looks cheap. Not what you’d want in a car costing this much. I find the pedals are also too close together and the instruments are difficult to read – especially the speedo. The redline isn’t clear – it’s marking is the same colour as the rest of the instruments.

“But it’s an incredible car. It’s not for me - but it’s a weapon...”

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