Tech Tips: 2007–’15 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution

Editor's Note: This story originally ran in the August 2016 issue. Some information may be slightly different. 

Story by Robert Bowen

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When Mitsubishi released the Evo X in 2007, it was phenomenally bad timing: The automotive market basically collapsed six months later, and gas prices skyrocketed. The new car was a huge improvement over the previous version, but it was heavier and larger. It also lacked some of the raw sense of urgency that previous Evos had. The 2008 car sold so poorly, there was no 2009 model year. After that the car changed very little from 2010 to 2015, so shop more on condition than year.

Mitsubishi basically offered two versions of the Evo. The Evo MR was equipped only with the six-speed, twin-clutch transmission, Enkei forged wheels, and a more sophisticated Bilstein suspension. The Evo GSR had a conventional– and very tough–manual transmission. Both shared the same Brembo braking system, athough the MR had two-piece rotors. The MR is faster in stock and perhaps a better choice for a daily driver, but the GSR is the natural choice for a hotrodder.

True to its humble origins as a four-door economy car, many parts of the Evo’s interior are not of the highest quality. Rattles, squeaks and broken clips are common, but fortunately easily repaired. The factory Recaro seats are excellent, but not everyone can fit in them.

The Evo is heavy, powerful and fast. It devours tires like few other cars–be prepared to buy a set at least every year or 10,000 miles, depending on how hard you drive. Don’t be tempted to cheap out, either–the Evo likes sticky tires.

Despite what you may have heard, the Evo X has a stellar reputation for reliability. The stock aluminum 4B11Tengine can easily handle 400-plus horsepower with a larger-than-stock turbo and decent tune. Non-modified cars will soldier on well past 100,000 miles with only minimal maintenance–and lots of new tires.

Speaking of modifications, if there is one thing that can ruin an Evo X, it is poor modifications. Generally speaking, pass on any car that has been modified unless you know the shop or person that did the work and you know the driver. Even then we would probably pass–the risk is too great that something was done incorrectly or the car was beat on.

The Active Yaw Control pump–it also provides pressure for the active center differential–is known to be a weak spot on cars that have been driven on salted roads, but Mitsubishi extended the warranty for this part to 10 years or 100,000 miles. Replacement pumps and rebuild kits are available for DIYers.

Carefully examine all panels for straight gaps. It’s good advice on any car, but all the more important for one that attracts the kind of drivers that want an Evo. The paint on the aluminum hood chips easily and should not be a concern.

If you can’t resist the urge to tinker, the 4B11T responds well to modifications. A cat-back exhaust will pick up a bit of power and make the car sound better–a stock Evo has a fairly innocuous exhaust note. An ECU reflash with the stock turbo and fuel system will take you up to, and somewhat past, 300 horsepower at the wheels.

Big power–350-plus–requires a larger-than-stock turbo, larger injectors and perhaps some different intercooler piping to eliminate the stock restrictions. Many tuners set up their cars for E85, which requires much larger injectors and pump, but the payoff is in higher power and a more forgiving tune.

The stock suspension is about as good as it gets for a road car, but again, if you can’t resist the urge to tinker, the factory GSR struts are a bit under-damped for high speed track usage. The stock MR Bilsteins are excellent, and Bilstein will even re-valve and rebuild as needed for wear, or to accommodate different springs. If you prefer a car that rotates more readily, the stock front sway bar can be supplemented by a larger rear one. “Despite what you may have heard, the Evo X has a stellar reputation for reliability.”

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TGMF
TGMF Reader
8/24/16 1:14 p.m.

My local dealer STILL has two brand new '15 Evo's listed.

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
8/24/16 1:23 p.m.

There are still lots of new EVOs all over the country. I'm still considering getting one, but I fear I would take a bath on the BRZ.

RexSeven
RexSeven UberDork
8/24/16 3:06 p.m.

Hmm... this post is relevant to my interests.

Another tip for prospective buyers:

The fuel pump relay has gone through multiple iterations due to a tendency to fail to switch to high speed mode. Basically, the relay switches the fuel pump between low and high speed mode depending on fueling demands. If the relay fails, the fuel pump will stay stuck in low-speed mode which can lead to the engine running dangerously lean when running WOT. Check to see if your car is affected by TSB-10-13-002 and get the latest relays you can from the dealership

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
8/27/16 11:28 p.m.
TGMF wrote: My local dealer STILL has two brand new '15 Evo's listed.

I had to check and, wow, so does ours.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
8/27/16 11:31 p.m.

We have a big Mitsubishi dealer near here in DeLand, Florida, so I just check their site. They show 14 new 2015 Evos in stock. Wonder if that's correct. Might have to head over there one day and, you know, check it out.

dean1484
dean1484 MegaDork
8/28/16 9:48 a.m.

I wonder what the out the door price is with HSRs starting a bit over 34k. I wonder if you could get that I to the high 20s after haggling. That is a huge amount of car for the $$$$

turtl631
turtl631 Reader
8/29/16 11:47 a.m.

I wonder if it's mostly because of the seats. And cheap car interiors getting much nicer.

Knurled
Knurled MegaDork
8/29/16 12:31 p.m.
dean1484 wrote: I wonder what the out the door price is with HSRs starting a bit over 34k. I wonder if you could get that I to the high 20s after haggling. That is a huge amount of car for the $$$$

Get out of my head

DocV
DocV New Reader
8/29/16 1:58 p.m.

Do it. I got a Final Edition, and many months in, I am still smitten. There are still GSRs available at ~ $33k. The seats don't bother me that much (I am on the hunt for cast off Recaros from a track build).

DocV
DocV New Reader
8/29/16 3:25 p.m.

Saw this on the youtubes (comparison shootout of Focus RS, Evo X, WRX STI, and Golf R):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImobeCtRphc

I think these two are sometimes a bit long winded, but I was pleased to see the Evo's dynamics hold up so well in this company.

Colin Wood
Colin Wood Reader Services
10/14/19 9:08 a.m.

I really can't explain it, but despite all the other options in the sport sedan segment, I've always been attracted to the Evo X.

Personally, I'd get the MR just for the twin-clutch transmission (even though I have heard maintenance can be tricky and expensive).

pointofdeparture
pointofdeparture PowerDork
10/14/19 9:11 a.m.

In reply to Colin Wood :

The twin-clutch transmission is what scares me most on these cars, by a long shot. I wish the expert had gone into more detail on those.

Knurled.
Knurled. MegaDork
10/14/19 12:34 p.m.

FWIW, scuttlebutt is that Bilstein no longer rebuilds or revalves OE dampers.

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
10/14/19 1:46 p.m.
pointofdeparture said:

In reply to Colin Wood :

The twin-clutch transmission is what scares me most on these cars, by a long shot. I wish the expert had gone into more detail on those.

From what I remember when researching these is that they are pretty stout..................as long as you keep the fluid cool. In other words, if you wanted to track one without constant limp mode intrusions, you need a seriously upgraded trans cooler. And I'd go ahead and do the deeper pan that increases capacity as well. 

 

Vigo
Vigo MegaDork
10/14/19 2:43 p.m.

The new car was a huge improvement over the previous version, but it was heavier and larger.

Wikipedia says: "In the field of psychology, cognitive dissonance is the mental discomfort (psychological stress) experienced by a person who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values."cheeky

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImobeCtRphc

I think these two are sometimes a bit long winded,

Me too. Can never seem to get hooked on them.

 

In other news, HOW ABOUT A LONG WINDED COMMENTARY!

Honestly, my main problem with the Evo X is my main problem with the Lancer it's based on, which is that it is too tall to look properly aggressive. The previous Lancer was fairly short, so if you widened it and lowered it, it looked mean. The Lancer the X is based on is so tall that you can widen it and lower it and it just looks OK (a stock X), and then you slam it so far down that it ceases to be functional as a performance car and it looks... alright i guess (stanced Evo X). Back when glass was flat and cars had frames people used to chop rooves and channel bodies to fix this, but good luck today. If you don't care about looks or proportion, no big deal. I don't care that much about looks on my cheap cars. If a X was cheap I'd stop caring. But as long as it sells for enough money that I have to finance it, it has to LOOK good too and that's where the X fails for me. Even my Mazdaspeed6 barely slips under my rule here because it actually looks worse than a non-mazdaspeed to me with a hood that looks like it came off an HD pickup and a worse spoiler and wheels than lower models. But... it's a fraction the price of an Evo X.

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