2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X GSR new car reviews

Better than: a $100 Neon
But not as good as: an M3
GRM Bang For The Buck Index: 84.92

We were very excited to finally get an Evolution X in our test fleet. We were looking forward to seeing how Mitsubishi's latest would stack up as a real-world performance car. On track, it holds a ton of promise, boasting plenty of power and (finally) all of the advanced all-wheel-drive gadgetry we weren't able to enjoy in previous iterations of U.S.-spec Evolutions.

We found the all-new chassis and bodywork to be a real improvement over the outgoing model. The car makes more power than earlier Evos, and delivers it to the pavement through a tried-and-true five-speed gearbox. It was refreshing to be able to simply yet effectively operate a five-speed without having to study the owner's manual. The GSR has more than enough muscle under the hood to get us thrown in jail on any road in town, and the well-developed all-wheel-drive system allows the driver to put the power down in nearly any situation.

Perhaps it's because of all these other improvements that we were so disappointed by the bulk of the interior compenents, which seemed horrendously cheap. Buttons and switches felt, well, just bad--like a mid-'80s General Motors level of bad. The bucket seats were comfortable and supportive enough to wear the Recaro badge, but they got mixed reviews for adjustability and fit. Taller and wider drivers seemed to like them best.

It might seem out of character to criticize a car in this league of performance for quibbles such as crappy buttons or loose interior trim, but the quality gap with the newest Evo is much greater than the price would suggest. Performance is awfully impressive, though, so be prepared for non-Evo-driving competitors and loved ones alike to simply hate it.

Other staff views

Per Schroeder Per Schroeder
PowerDork

It seems like they haven't numbed it from the previous Evos, as it's still brutally fast. However, they certainly haven't plushed it up either. Talk about cut-rate interior quality. Overall, it's a great car to buy, strip and install a roll-cage in. I think the interior would look great sitting in the dumpster behind our office.

David S. Wallens David S. Wallens
Editorial Director

Good, I'm not the only one who was turned off by the cheap interior. I know, I know, you buy a car like this because it offers awesome performance. However, if I was making payments on a $35,000 car that felt this cheap at first encounter, I might start to feel like a chump. Where Subaru took the Impreza up a notch, the Evo went the other way.

Scott Lear Scott Lear

This is the first car I’ve ever driven where the automatic (Mitsubishi insists that it’s not an automatic, it’s a TC-SST) was more aggressive in shifts than I was with the five-speed manual at an autocross course. Naturally, this requires switching it to full attack mode, but it’s pretty impressive and has an uncanny ability to downshift and rev-match from second to first in slow corners without upsetting the chassis. Super fun car and a bit less raw than the Evo IX (with all the good and bad that being less raw implies).

Tom Heath Tom Heath
UberDork

It's quick and agile enough to wear the Evolution badge, and I hope it does good things for Mitsubishi on a corporate level. After all, who wouldn't like to see the Lancer vs. Impreza war to flare up in the WRC?

Drive it for a little longer and you'll start to notice (more than ever, even compared to the earliest models) that it's really an entry-level car with a lot of good driveline and suspension parts. The shabby fit and finish on the Evo made me wonder what a base Lancer must be like—after all, the Evolution X is Mitsubishi's halo product.

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Comments

View comments on the GRM forums
fastkevin
fastkevin
10/9/08 12:07 a.m.

I recently traded my IX in on a X. My IX's job was strictly track, and that's what I had intended for the X. That is before driving it. I was so (pleasantly) surprised by how much better the X was to drive on the street than the IX, my entire plan was turned upside down. The X is much more stable, less noisy, and MUCH more comfortable than my IX was. A little before I got it home, I actually turned on the radio, and pre-set my stations. The IX was so much like a 4-wheel sportbike, that using the radio never even occurred to me. I personally have no problems with the fit and finish of the interior. Then again, I'm also one of many who traded in their prior-gen Evo for the new X. To us, function comes first, and form a distant second. For $30K, I have more performance and capability than most cars costing twice that much. To me, that's what the Evo is all about. When the rumors started trickling out about the new X being a fat, plushy Cadillac, the internet boards erupted with unanimous disapproval. What we actually got was a car with arguably better handling than the prior gens, and an interior that was now comfortable enough to make me want to drive it on the street. The buttons and switches all do what they're supposed to do, I can adjust the A/C and radio with just a twist of a knob(compared to my wife's 535 which requires you to go into the fricken i-drive, and perform 15 steps just to change the damn radio station), and the minimal amount of knobs and switches the mighty Evo does have, are right where I would expect them to be. To sum up my impression... the car is IMO a better platform performance-wise than the prior generation Evo, and it also is now a nice car to take your wife out to dinner in. Do I wish Mitsu upgraded the interior like Subaru did with the Sti? Not in the slightest. In fact, I'm glad to hear Sti driver will have a nice, comfy place to console himself, after yet another Evo has just left him in the weeds.

BluEvo210
BluEvo210 New Reader
10/9/08 9:57 p.m.

For several years now, I've been reading about the Evo's steering feel, and razor-sharp handling, and even though nobody said it in so many words, I imagined that the sense of speed was the best of any AWD car. So, I've got an Evo X, now. The problem is; My previous car was a Nissan 240SX. Compared to that, I can't feel the road at all in the Evo. It's a good thing I've played a lot of Gran Turismo, and I can sorta judge the speed by sight, 'cause I can't FEEL the speed at all in this car. My wife swore our dead-stock S14 was faster (until I buried the pedal one day and ran it up to a speed our Nissans would never reach). Then, my wife asked why I didn't give so much as a smile at that speed. The answer is "That's what the 240SX feels like at 45mph." Compared to that, the interior materials are moot.

A friend let me drive his Evo IX one day, and I couldn't tell if the road feel was that much better than the X, but I DID notice the pedals were placed much better for heel-and-toe downshifts. Did Mitsubishi decide they didn't want Evo X drivers matching revs to downshift?

And, why is first gear so damn tall? I have to do standing starts facing uphill on the way to work. Turbo lag and a tall first gear suck in that situation. Granted, I'm getting used to it...but, it was a bit of a surprise after being used to a 240SX; People use the term "wide ratio" talking about the Evo's 5-speed, but it's not nearly as wide as the ratios in a 240SX or a Mustang. I've decided they're the examples to follow for first-gear ratios.

My wife and I love our Evo in spite of the quirks, especially since we're getting used to the way we can zip around lesser vehicles, with no drama to be seen from the driver's seat.

We've also never had a car with a warranty before, but I'm not sure we have one now. From the first visit to the Mitsubishi service department, the service manager started preemptively coming up with reasons anything that EVER went wrong with the car would be our fault. He actually had an excuse why changing the muffler would void the warranty. Being an engineer, I was skeptical of his excuse. After asking around, I realized none of his reasoning applied to turbo cars.

But, I'm one of the many Evo owners who's getting used to the feeling of near omnipotence. The new Impreza's styling is just icing on the cake; The handling is inferior, the sparkplug location is bizarre AND it looks funny. And, for the price difference, the STi had BETTER have a nice interior.

Now about those gear ratios; Can anyone tell me who to talk to at Mitsubishi about that? I plugged some numbers into a spreadsheet and came up with some new ratios for the transmission. I started with a much lower first gear and a 5th gear that will cruise nicely on the highway. If Mitsubishi builds it, I'll be eager to put it in my Evo.

...and you thought the guy before me was long-winded!

jrudolph
jrudolph
10/13/08 1:12 p.m.

I own a '08 EVO X as well as a bunch of other cars (STi, WRX, Boxster S, 997 C4S, etc..). Why did I buy the EVO X? Because last year I rented an Alfa 159 in Italy and have wanted an Alfa ever since but at this point in time we can't buy new Alfas here. The EVO X feels and sounds (buzzy) like the Alfa and has that beautiful Alfaesque instrument binnacle and cheap interior feel that constantly reminds me that I'm driving a genuine bargain. Unlike the Alfa the EVO X has gobs of power and it handles like a dream and in a certain way it has the Alfa feel although the road feel could be a tad better and the weird electronic hand of God that takes over at the limit provides a bit more intervention than I would like but for a daily driver it provides a nice margin of safety for emergency maneuvers.

Pretty good pasta for a Sushi place.

BluEvo210
BluEvo210 New Reader
5/11/09 8:20 a.m.

I feel better about my Evo X GSR now that I've finally autocrossed it. Yesterday, I was a year out of practice, and it was my first time racing the Evo. With a K&N air filter and a lot of runs, I beat an older fellow with an STi and an Ohlins coil-over suspension.

I tried it both with and without the stability control turned on, and for a while there I thought "My car is smarter than me...This is a little depressing." But, with the ASM turned off again on the 8th run, I pulled out a time faster than I expected, and faster than the Subaru.

I think part of the reason I got off to a slow start was that, at my last autocross a year ago, I was racing my 1.4L Datsun with the super-old street tires. THAT was like driving on ice. Driving the Evo, I got distracted mid-course with thoughts like, "Wheeee...CRAP those cones are coming up fast!!!"

BluEvo210
BluEvo210 New Reader
9/19/10 1:08 a.m.

Staff needs to revise the weight on the car's specs.
3,586lbs with a full tank of gas.

Tom Heath
Tom Heath UberDork
12/10/13 12:00 a.m.

We were very excited to finally get an Evolution X in our test fleet. We were looking forward to seeing how Mitsubishi's latest would stack up as a real-world performance car. On track, it holds a ton of promise, boasting plenty of power and (finally) all of the advanced all-wheel-drive gadgetry we weren't able to enjoy in previous iterations of U.S.-spec Evolutions.

We found the all-new chassis and bodywork to be a real improvement over the outgoing model. The car makes more power than earlier Evos, and delivers it to the pavement through a tried-and-true five-speed gearbox. It was refreshing to be able to simply yet effectively operate a five-speed without having to study the owner's manual. The GSR has more than enough muscle under the hood to get us thrown in jail on any road in town, and the well-developed all-wheel-drive system allows the driver to put the power down in nearly any situation.

Perhaps it's because of all these other improvements that we were so disappointed by the bulk of the interior compenents, which seemed horrendously cheap. Buttons and switches felt, well, just bad--like a mid-'80s General Motors level of bad. The bucket seats were comfortable and supportive enough to wear the Recaro badge, but they got mixed reviews for adjustability and fit. Taller and wider drivers seemed to like them best.

It might seem out of character to criticize a car in this league of performance for quibbles such as crappy buttons or loose interior trim, but the quality gap with the newest Evo is much greater than the price would suggest. Performance is awfully impressive, though, so be prepared for non-Evo-driving competitors and loved ones alike to simply hate it.

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