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2015 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader April 2015

Rumors of the 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution's demise have been circulating for a while now, but the Evo has lived to fight for one more year. That's great news for enthusiasts, as they're the only shoppers who will truly appreciate this car. For better or worse, the 2015 Lancer Evolution is an uncompromising performance machine that's built to thrill.

If you're worried that the Evo is a little long in the tooth, don't be. Although we've panned the current Lancer for its outdated engines and transmissions, the Lancer Evolution's unique turbocharged 2.0-liter inline 4-cylinder and twin-clutch automated manual transmission are still among the best in the business. As for the exclusive all-wheel-drive system, it's an all-time great, keeping the car on course with such precision that we can't imagine how it could be improved. And the Evo has more than enough technology to compete with its contemporary rivals.

The Lancer Evolution's weaknesses are well known by now. It's stiff, noisy and cheap inside, and the steering wheel doesn't telescope. If this bothers you, go buy a BMW. Evo drivers will relish leaving you in the dust on twisty 2-lanes.

Yep, it's pretty much the same old Evo for 2015, and that suits us just fine. With all the numb, gadget-packed transportation pods on dealer lots these days, it's refreshing that Mitsubishi stubbornly keeps building one of the most capable and engaging cars in the world.

What's New for 2015?

The 2015 Evo unfortunately loses its Recaro front seats for arcane regulatory reasons, but the MR trim adds standard Rockford Fosgate audio and a few other desirable features.

What We Like

Very fast; incredible handling thanks to sophisticated all-wheel-drive system; nicely executed dual-clutch automated manual transmission; lots of performance for the price

What We Don't

Noisy engine; stiff ride; cheap interior for the price; steering wheel doesn't telescope; poor fuel economy for a 4-cylinder engine; tiny trunk

How Much?

$35,305-$39,805

Fuel Economy

The Evo is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline 4-cylinder that makes 291 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque. The GSR trim comes with a 5-speed conventional manual transmission, while the MR trim gets a 6-speed dual-clutch automated manual with column-mounted paddle shifters. A trick-adjustable all-wheel-drive system with a side-to-side torque distribution algorithm (Active Yaw Control) is standard on every Evo.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fuel economy estimates stand at 17 miles per gallon in the city and 23 mpg on the highway with the manual and 17 mpg city/22 mpg hwy with the automatic, poor numbers for something with a small 4-cylinder engine, regardless of how much power it makes. Consider that the current Corvette returns nearly 30 mpg hwy with its burly V8.

Standard Features & Options

The 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution sedan is offered in GSR and MR trim levels.

The GSR ($35,305) features a 5-speed manual transmission, 18-inch Enkei alloy wheels, Brembo brakes, a large rear spoiler, heated mirrors, a leather-wrapped tilt-only steering wheel, a color trip computer, cruise control, automatic climate control, Mitsubishi's Fuse voice-command system for phones and music devices, and a 6-speaker audio system with a 6.1-in touchscreen, USB/Bluetooth integration and an auxiliary input.

The MR ($39,805) steps up to a 6-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission, automatic xenon headlamps, 18-in BBS alloy wheels, Eibach springs, Bilstein struts and a subtle rear lip spoiler (instead of the GSR's huge wing). It also receives some formerly optional features as standard for 2015, including a 710-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system, keyless entry/start and rain-sensing wipers.

Options include a sunroof, leather upholstery, heated front seats and a hard-drive-based navigation system with a 7-in touchscreen and music storage.

Like every Lancer, the Evo has an unusually accommodating back seat for a compact car. Its trunk is shockingly small, though, measuring a roadster-like 6.9 cu ft.

Safety

The 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution comes with standard stability control, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, active front head restraints and seven airbags (front, front-side, driver-knee, full-length side-curtain).

The Evo hasn't been crash-tested, but the ordinary Lancer sedan received an overall score of four stars out of five in government crash-testing, including four stars each for frontal and side impacts. The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the regular Lancer its highest rating of Good in all tested categories except the small-overlap front crash test, where the Lancer was judged Acceptable (second-highest).

Behind the Wheel

The 2015 Evo's standard front seats lack the wonderful lateral support of the discontinued Recaros, which is a bummer for enthusiasts. Moreover, the tilt-only steering wheel could be a deal breaker for drivers with long legs. On the bright side, the Evo's deeply hooded tachometer and speedometer are crisp and attractive, and they bookend a great-looking color LCD trip computer.

Materials quality, however, is definitely not an Evo strong point. The entire cabin screams economy car, so be prepared for quizzical looks from non-enthusiast passengers when they hear how much you paid.

We're of two minds about the Evo's turbocharged engine. On the one hand, its noises remind us of a vacuum cleaner, but on the other hand, it makes the Evo go fast. Very fast. As for swapping cogs, we actually prefer the twin-clutch automatic for its seamless upshifts, which allow the turbocharger to do its thing without interruption. The 5-speed manual isn't an especially engaging piece of machinery.

Critics say that the Evo drives like a video game, and they're right, but if we were employed by Mitsubishi, we'd take that as a compliment. The Evo's engineers have built a car that can make almost anyone look like a hero on winding roads, and that's no mean feat. Most of the credit goes to the incredibly effective all-wheel-drive system with Active Yaw Control, which instantaneously transfers torque to the wheels that need it. In hard driving, the sensation is one of being yanked through the corner by the hands of the driving gods. Unfortunately, the Evo is a chore to drive in a civilized fashion on account of its stiff, noisy ride and incredibly responsive steering.

Other Cars to Consider

2015 Subaru WRX -- The 2015 WRX isn't that far behind the Evo in terms of power, and it's a much better value. We recommend it over the Evo's natural rival, the pricey WRX STI.

2015 Ford Mustang GT -- The V8-powered Mustang GT has plenty of get-up-and-go, and it has a grown-up interior that puts the Evo's to shame.

2015 BMW 2 Series -- BMW's do-it-all compact coupe offers impeccable handling, an upscale cabin and a choice of two stellar engines.

Used Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution -- Truth be told, the Evo hasn't fundamentally changed in many years, so a used example could save you a lot of coin without setting you back a bit in terms of performance.

Autotrader's Advice

As noted, we like the automatic in the Evo, so our choice would be the MR model. It doesn't hurt that the MR ditches the GSR's obnoxious (we think) rear wing.

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Used 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution GSR
Used 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution
$28,940
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Used 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution GSR
Used 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution
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Used 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR
Used 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution
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Used 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution GSR
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2015 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution: New Car Review - Autotrader