2014 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution - Driven

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Updated 10/17/2013: This review has been updated with video reviews of the GSR version, and a memory-card full of high-resolution photos of this Cosmic Blue stunner.

Since spending a week with Mitsubishi’s gorgeous 2014 Lancer Evo GSR, I came to appreciate many things that make this such an incredible lap attack car, but also a great daily driver with incredible torque.

The legendary Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution returns for 2014 with a new touchscreen infotainment unit to enhance the interior of one of the finest road-going rally race cars ever produced. The Evo’s flypaper grip on tarmac, snow and gravel continues with two trim levels and sprint times that are as low as 4.5 seconds to 60 mph.

The Mitsu ’s competitive landscape has changed significantly since this Evo X generation arrived more than four years ago. It largely demolishes the current-gen the Subaru WRX STi on all but the roughest gravel roads, but this comes with a higher-than-expected cost.

With prices creeping past the $40,000 mark on well-optioned 2014 Evolution MR models, the modest Lancer variant now faces competition from the more-powerful BMW 135i and upcoming Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG . These Germans are each packing well over 325 horsepower and are able to match the Evo’s turbocharged punch with much-more-refined image and interior comfort levels.

While it is true that prices can climb to the luxury level in MR trim with options, the most accessible Evo remains the $35,000 GSR model with a five-speed manual and fewer pricey party tricks in the suspension and transmission. All Evo’s, of course, leverage the brilliant computer-managed AWD system with its crushingly effective yaw control and active torque vectoring.

The Evolution’s cult audience is thrilled to have this 10th gen car available for another year. More time on the market also means a huge pool of aftermarket support and even factory accessories like front and rear strut braces, a front air dam and full racing body kits – right from the local Mitsubishi dealer.

Are the Evo’s world-beating capabilities still intact and on top in one of its final years on the market? Will this generation be known as one of the best when the long-rumored hybrid powertrain brings changes to the Evo’s driving style in 2015 or 2016?

Click past the jump for the full review of the 2014 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, with detailed comparisons between the Evo GSR manual and the Evo MR twin-clutch models.

Exterior

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution - Driven

The Lancer Evolution has won the beauty pageant versus Subaru for at least the last two generations. As the Subaru STi design went soft and ditched the frameless window design in favor of a high-roof sedan and even a hatchback variant, the Evo stayed hard with crisp surfacing details that barely contain the muscular performance within.

Both the Subaru and the Evo have a menacing presence on the road. Even people with no car passion can tell that there is something special about these economy-car shapes. The lower bumpers, visible intercoolers and hood scoops let other drivers know the score. Fender flares and lurid spoilers are the last things most traffic sees as these two rocketships fly away from slower cars (once the turbo boost hits).

The latest Evo styling takes the crisp lines and high-tech surfacing from the previous Evo, then adds some tasteful racing mods to bury the remaining similarities with the $18,000 Lancer compact.

The Evo X is still clearly a predator among the sheepish standard Lancer sedans, but less obviously than in previous iterations of the model. The new base Lancer s share some of the Evo’s squinting stare with pinched headlamps and a scowling, full-frame grille that makes the Mitsubishi more intimidating than a prize fighter.

From anything but straight on from the front, the Evo is clearly no Lancer. Huge fender flares mean the Evo is 2 inches wider than standard Lancers , while the flat-topped crease above the fender bulge is appealing, premium and stylish. The lower portions of the flares are more rounded to allow a perfect blend of the Evo’s custom aluminum panels onto the standard Lancer shell.

Exterior Detail

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution - Driven

The overall proportions are all about track performance, with a low roof and chopped trunk design out back. The car is very appealing in both GSR and MR trims, with the key exterior difference being the GSR’s huge spoiler versus the MR’s more-subtle lip spoiler on the trunk.

The MR is the more premium model that will attract less unwanted police attention than the huge wing spoiler of the GSR that is like a siren song to the boys in blue. It may as well sing, “C’mon Officer Mike, pull this car over for a road safety lecture… you know you want to.”

The other key difference between the GSR and MR is in the front headlights, where the GSR sticks with the Lancer’s reflector halogen lights. These don’t look nearly as expensive on the road as the MR’s bi-xenon projector beam lamps. Both lack LED lighting up front and a dated appearance to the dark-trimmed clear taillights.

2014 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution - Exterior Dimensions:

Wheelbase (in.) 104.3
Length (in.) 177
Width (in.) 71.3
Height (in.) 58.3
Track - Front (in.) 60.8
Track - Rear (in.) 60.8
Weight (Pounds) 3527
Weight distribution (% f/r) 56.6/43.4

Exterior Detail

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution - Driven

2014 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution GSR - Standard Exterior Features:

  • Auto-off reflector-type halogen headlights
  • Black grille with black surround
  • Large rear spoiler
  • Fog lights
  • Aluminum roof, hood and front fenders
  • Functional hood and fender vents
  • Rear diffuser with dual exhaust outlet
  • Clear and black tail lights
  • 18 x 8.5-inch alloy wheels with 245/40R18 Yokohama ADVAN tires
  • GSR Exterior Package ($1500): Side airdams, Rear corner extension, Brake air guides, Rear spoiler extension

2014 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR - Standard Exterior Features:

  • Xenon High-Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights with auto-off function
  • Functional hood and fender vents
  • Rear lip spoiler
  • Fog lights
  • Aluminum hood and front fenders
  • Clear and black tail lights
  • Rear diffuser with dual exhaust outlet
  • 18 x 8.5-inch BBS forged alloy wheels with 245/40R18 Yokohama ADVAN tires

2014 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution GSR and MR - Optional Exterior Features:

  • Evo Aluminum-trimmed Rally Mud Flaps ($250)
  • Rear Corner Air Dams ($440)
  • Rear Spoiler Extension ($110)
  • Rear Strut Brace ($525)
  • Side Skirts ($900)
  • Front Air Dams ($625)
  • Front Brake Air Guides ($130)
  • Front Strut Brace ($525)
  • Evo Aluminum Intercooler Pipes ($330)
  • Ralliart Wheel Locks and Fluted Lug Nuts ($145)
  • Rear Park Assist Sensors ($295)
  • Side Wind Deflectors ($95)
  • Wheel Locks ($55)

Interior

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution - Driven

This is one of the few cars people buy almost exclusively for the performance it offers, rather than a balanced appeal of exterior design, price, and interior quality. The Evo is such a riot to drive that guys would line up to drive it even if they there were no seats and they had to sit on a cinder block to see out the windshield.

Luckily, the Evo’s interior is completely finished with standard Recaro bucket seats up front and a bench for three in back. Finished in sport cloth, the Evo’s interior feels purposeful and business-like with a large, three-spoke steering wheel with cruise, audio and phone controls built in.

The seats themselves offer excellent support and a reasonably adjustable driving position to accommodate different size drivers with six-way manual adjustments. This is pretty standard for rally cars but pales in the face of the sport seats from BMW and Mercedes-Benz that bring all the support, plus add luxury leathers and more than double the range of adjustments.

The biggest differences between the GSR and the MR is visible right in the (very narrow) center console: GSR’s have a round five-speed shift knob while the MR models get a premium aluminum and leather-trimmed shifter to control the twin-clutch SST transmission. The MR also adds shift paddles behind the wheel and about 50 pounds worth of additional sound deadening and insulation.

Both cars are still buzzy and pointy in their driving style, unable to really settle for slow speeds when doing errands or in the daily commute. The Evo’s turbo whoosh is constantly just a throttle tip away – and brings enough G-force and sense of speed to make you forget all about the groceries in back.

The Evo’s chopped trunk design, additional chassis bracing and limited equipment levels mean the Mitsubishi struggles to feel worth its price at anything above $40,000.

Interior Detail

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution - Driven

2014 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution - Interior Dimensions:

Front Seating Capacity 2
Rear Seating Capacity 3
Headroom - Front (in.) 40.6
Headroom - Rear (in.) 36.9
Legroom - Front (in.) 42.5
Legroom - Rear (in.) 33.3
Shoulder Room - Front (in.) 5.47
Shoulder Room - Rear (in.) 54.3
Hip Room - Front (in.) 53.3
Hip Room - Rear (in.) 54.1
EPA Cargo Volume (cubic-feet) 6.9

2014 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution GSR - Interior Features:

  • Power windows, door locks and side mirrors
  • High-contrast instruments with silver bezels
  • Color LCD multi-information display
  • Leather-wrapped sport steering wheel and shift knob
  • Sports fabric interior
  • RECARO semi-bucket sport seats with fixed head rests
  • Gloss black trim on dash and front doors
  • Covered cup holders
  • Remote keyless entry
  • Cruise control
  • Automatic climate control
  • 140-watt CD/MP3/HD Radio audio system with six speakers
  • SiriusXM Satellite Radio with three months pre-paid service
  • 6.1-inch touchscreen audio display
  • FUSE Hands-free Link System with USB port

2014 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR - Interior Features:

  • 6.1-inch touchscreen audio display: FUSE Hands-free Link System with USB port, 140-watt CD/MP3/HD Radio audio system with six speakers, SiriusXM Satellite Radio with three months pre-paid service
  • Leather-wrapped sport steering wheel and shift knob
  • Sports fabric interior, RECARO semi-bucket sport seats with fixed head rests
  • Power windows, door locks and side mirrors
  • High-contrast instruments with silver bezels
  • Color LCD multi-information display
  • Aluminum sport pedals
  • Covered cup holders and center console storage
  • Cruise control
  • Automatic climate control

2014 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution GSR And MR - Optional Interior Features:

  • Navigation System Package ($2,375): MMCS Navigation system with 7-inch high-definition touch panel, voice command, 3D mapping, point-of-interest information, real-time traffic, and Mapcare includes 2 map updates (replaces std. audio system head unit)
  • Interior LED Illumination Package ($335)
  • Interior Package: Aluminum/leather brake grip; Aluminum/leather SST shift knob ($530)
  • All-Weather Floor Mats ($90)

First-Drive Video

Drivetrain, Suspension and Brakes

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution - Driven

All the brand image, luxury and interior design demerits are instantly acceptable when the pace improves and drivers can enjoy the Evo’s core skill set: acceleration that hits hard and feels like heaven, plus road-holding and grip that means the Evo is always glued to the surface.

Driving the Evo quickly takes practice, as the powertrain’s huge intercooled turbocharger delivers a truly remarkable change in character for the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. This is not an engine that can drive on its torque without a gear shift. Find yourself in the wrong gear or without a clutch drop in a drag race, and the Evo can feel handicapped for almost two seconds of turbo lag.

When the boost hits, the Evo’s engine changes pitch to a meaty howl and the Mitsubishi simply shoots forward (and most likely passes anything that beat it off the line). The Evo’s engine makes 291 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 300 pound-feet of torque from 4,000 rpm. This is enough to screech the GSR to 60 mph in just 4.9 seconds, and an even-quicker 4.5 seconds for the MR with its twin-clutch automatic.

The TC-SST transmission, as Mitsubishi calls it, offers a lower final drive ratio over its larger span of gears, giving the automatic extra-short (Subaru Subaru -style) first and second gears. This design helps rapidly build boost that can take longer on the manual GSR model.

Achieving these sprint times is not like some of the best German hot rods – with a bigger engine, a launch is sometimes as simple as flooring the gas pedal and holding it down. The cars are often just a few tenths apart between the official 0-to-60 mph time and the easier 5-to-60 mph time that is sometimes called a rolling start.

Not on the Evo. This car needs a full clutch drop in the manual GSR and the launch control engaged for the MR. These runs are hard on the powertrain, but disguise the fact that the 5-to-60 mph ‘rolling start’ times are much, much slower in the high 5-second range.

The sky is the limit when it comes to tuning the Mitsubishi Evolution to make more power than stock. Tuners love this powertrain’s durability but generally prefer the GSR’s manual box over the twin-clutch auto. The TC-SST is harder to upgrade with racing-type clutch plates and can struggle with reliability when channeling more than the factory power levels.

Both models top out at a relatively low top speed of 146 mph, reinforcing their track and sprint specialties over truly high-speed travel. The small gas tanks and bouncy ride mean few will miss a higher top speed.

A number of mechanical changes separate the GSR from the MR besides the transmission, highlighted in the list below.

MR additions over GSR:

  • Auto-off Bi-Xenon High-Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights
  • Twin-Clutch Sportronic Shift Transmission (TC-SST) with steering wheel paddle shifters
  • BBS forged alloy wheels
  • Bilstein shock absorbers and Eibach springs
  • Two-piece front brake rotors with alloy hats
  • Rear lip spoiler

Chassis

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution - Driven

2014 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution - Mechanical Details:

Trim Level | Evo GSR | Evo MR |
Engine Size and Type | 2.0-liter Turbocharged 16-valve I-4 With DOHC And MIVEC | 2.0-liter Turbocharged 16-valve I-4 With DOHC And MIVEC |
Peak power (Horsepower) | 291 @ 6500 | 291 @ 6500 |
Peak torque (Pound-feet) | 300 @ 4000 | 300 @ 4000 |
Transmission | 5-speed manual | 6-speed TC-SST |
0-to-60 mph | 4.9 seconds | 4.5 seconds |
Top Speed | 146 mph | 146 mph |
EPA Fuel Economy MPG (City/Combined/Highway) | 17/NA/23 | 17/NA/22 |

Safety

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution - Driven

The Mitsubishi Lancer is a Top Safety Pick from the IIHS with ‘Good’ scores in all the most important categories. The Evo has seven standard airbags – with the extra one helping protect driver knees and legs in frontal collisions.

Sport ABS and various levels of traction/stability assistance helps the Evo deliver crushing lap times without removing these road-safety features. The Brembo brakes ensure quick and fade-free stopping distances, but serious drivers who plan to race the Evo will be much safer if they add a roll cage and five-point seatbelts.

The standard Recaro’s leave room for a full racing harness to be mounted on the rear bulkhead. Needing these additions doesn’t mean the Evo is unsafe – it just means that the Evo delivers much more speed and potential for violent accidents than the car’s light steel structure can manage.

2014 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution - Standard Safety Features:

  • Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution (RISE) unibody construction with front & rear crumple zones
  • Brembo braking system
  • Seven standard airbags including a driver’s knee airbag
  • Sport ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD)
  • Active Stability Control (ASC)
  • Electronic engine immobilizer
  • Height-adjustable front shoulder belts with pretensioner
  • LATCH child-restraint system
  • Child safety rear door locks
  • Anti-theft security alarm system with engine immobilizer
  • Trunk entrapment release handle

Pricing

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution - Driven

The 2014 Lancer Evolution costs from $34,995 in GSR trim, up to a $38,195 base price for the Evo MR. Both trims have a few desirable option packs and available navigation for $2,375 extra.

The biggest single difference is the manual transmission in the GSR versus the twin-clutch paddle shifter in the Evo MR – but the MR also includes the bi-xenon projector headlamps that are absent from the cheaper GSR trim.

Competition

Subaru WRX STi

Subaru WRX STI tS Type RA

This generation of Subaru WRX STi has aged much less gracefully than the Mitsu Evolution. The new look of the WRX was recently previewed via a stunning concept car, but the standard model looks set to keep its Corolla-esque roofline and overall proportions.

Previous STi variants have lagged behind the WRX launch by up to a year, with the next-gen STi arriving as a 2015 at the earliest.

BMW 135i

BMW 1 Series

As a rear-drive coupe with a turbo six-cylinder engine, the 135i seems like an odd bedfellow for the AWD econobox basics of the Mitsubishi Evolution. Actually, the compact dimensions and similar pricing mean the BMW BMW is certainly on the radar for Evo shoppers. Matching the Evo’s sprint times with a flexible, torque-rich engine will sway some 135i buyers who like the BMW badge better already.

Conclusion

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution - Driven

It seems like a short five years since the Evo X joined the world’s performance car stage. There are numerous areas where the maniacal and purpose-driven Evolution still reigns above the competition, but some chinks in its armor starting to spread.

Despite the Fast and Furious movies continued box-office success, the youth performance car scene has moved on quite a bit since the 310-horsepower AWD turbo Mitsubishi Eclipse played a starring role in the first film more than a decade ago. As VW elegantly observed with the ‘Unpimp Your Ride’ commercials, there is an observable market trend toward more understated and grown-up OEM performance cars.

For the Evo, which wears most of its performance credibility on the outside via top-shelf racing components, the giant-killing pace of the rear-drive 135i is a major problem. That the BMW is wrapped in an understated, premium-quality design only makes things harder for the Evolution.

When it comes down to it, the Evo is much more like an affordable Nissan GT-R than it is a premium performance car in the entry-luxury segment.

For drivers that are hooked on the Evo’s one-of-a-kind turbo rush and macho styling, there is no substitute for the face-bending smiles and laughs that come from owning a Mitsubishi Evolution.

Category RatingDetails
Driving AWild Boost Dynamics Create Addictive Rush Of Acceleration
Performance A-Evo Is Nice To Offer Both Manual And Paddle-Shift Transmission Choices
Look BStill The Most Elegant And Crisp Rally-Bred Design
Value B-Steep Option Prices And MR-Exclusive Equipment Are Unhappy Compromise For GSR Buyers
Overall BA Small Car With Enough Speed And Fun To Thrill Big Boys
LOVE IT
  • Really fun to drive with hilarious speed and corner grip
  • Looks sharp, especially in MR spec with small spoiler and projector bi-xenon lights
  • Still unbeatable track car on any tight or wet courses
LEAVE IT
  • A few more horsepower would be nice
  • Fuel, purchase price and maintenance can be very expensive
  • Aftermarket modifications should be carefully considered before installation - Evo is genius in factory specification

Press Release

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution - Driven

2014 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution: Turbocharged Fun in a 4-Door Sports Car

Thanks to its potent turbocharged and intercooled powerplant, precision-tuned handling, communicative steering feel and 4-door configuration, the 2014 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution is an ultra-high-performance sports car that allows the driver to take to the track – along with several of his/her like-minded friends.

For the 2014 model year, the Lancer Evolution gains several upscale-oriented improvements to make an already very enjoyable ride an even more sumptuous experience. These new features include:

  • 6.1-in. touchscreen display audio system
  • HD Radio®
  • SIRIUSXM® satellite radio with 3-month pre-paid subscription
  • An available MMCS navigation system with 7-in. high-definition touch panel, voice command, 3D mapping, point-of-interest information, real-time traffic and Mapcare® including two updates
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution - Driven


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