2009 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X MR new car reviews

The Evo X MR was right at home between the cones at a local autocross.
It's hard to deny Scott's smile after a tail-happy run with the stability control turned all the way off.
Mitsubishi's newest turbocharged-four makes nearly 300 horsepower out of 2 liters.
Forged BBS wheels and massive Brembo brakes are stanard on the top-of-the-pile MR models.
It looks like an automatic transmission as far as the gear selector is concerned, but the MR's Twin-Clutch Sequential-Shift Transmission (TC-SST) is as fast and agressive as they come.

Better than: Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Ralliart
But not as good as: Nissan GT-R
GRM Bang For The Buck Index: 81.10

Last year we had a manual-transmission Evo GSR, and more recently we had a dialed-down Evo Ralliart, but finally the GRM staff has spent some time with the full-tilt Lancer Evolution X MR. Although the Ralliart shares the MR's terrific six-speed twin-clutch manumatic transmission, the gearbox is somewhat neutered in Ralliart trim.

The MR's transmission, on the other hand, can operate in full-anger Super Sport mode. This particular press fleet Evo came with the optional technology package and in-dash navigation, bringing the sticker price to more than $44,000.

The MR is further distinguished from its lesser siblings thanks to its standard fitment of Eibach springs, Bilstein dampers, handsome forged BBS wheels and HID lights. The price hike over the five-speed manual GS-R model is no small sum, but the TC-SST doesn't give up anything to the other car in performance; for many, the joy of shifting with a proper paddle gearbox will be worth the price of admission. Frankly, we couldn't find much reason to take the car out of its fully automatic setting; it allows the driver to concentrate on the line and braking points. In Super Sport mode, the transmission chooses gears more aggressively than the average driver would.

Other staff views

Scott Lear Scott Lear

While the MR was in town, we happened to have an SCCA CFR Solo practice day out in Ocala. It's our responsibility as automotive journalists to try this stuff out for our readers, right? We bumped the tires up a few PSI, grabbed our helmet and magnetic numbers, and headed to the track.

Naturally, it's our duty as journalists to try out every feature on a car to make sure it's working, and that included the MR's launch control. There's a lot of buzz on the internet about twin-clutch cars with launch programs and the warranties that no longer love them, but frankly, it seemed to us that the launch control was the least abusive way to get going at anything other than a snail's pace with the MR. It's kind of a dog off the line otherwise.

Before you cringe, hear my story. At a certain press event where an MR was present in an autocross situation, the folks running the autocross asked the journalists not to use the launch control. So, being journalists, they did their best to launch the car the best way they could figure out how. They'd apply the brake and the gas at the same time until some revs built--usually 3000 or so--and then they motored away only slightly more quickly than with no brake at all. Unfortunately, after two or three of these horribly abusive launches, the TC-SST would go into limp mode until it cooled down, because the clutch was slipping the entire time. After a couple of minutes of regular driving, the transmission would cool off and all was fine, but it can't have been good for the unit.

Launch mode, on the other hand, gets the whole clutch-slipping process over with in less than a second, and gives you some meaningful acceleration as well. To use the launch, put the TC-SST control into S-Sport. Then, deactivate the Active Stability Control: one touch for regular off, or press and hold for super jackass mode extra off. Apply the brake VERY FIRMLY, then stab the throttle to the floor. The revs will rapidly jump to 5000, and when they're there, quickly release the brake and you're on your way in a good hurry. If the revs don't climb quickly, your foot isn't on the brake hard enough and you're abusing the hell out of your clutch. You'll know when you're doing it right.

At the Deland autocross, We did three runs with the ASC in super jackass mode extra off, and the Evo MR was an absolute riot, four-wheel drifting through the skidpad section and proving to be quite a handful (the spin in the video on our third run is some indication). Our quickest time came with the ASC in regular off mode. Keep in mind, the ASC computer is never actually all the way off, since it's married to the ABS and a variety of other computers; it just gives you more or less slip angle.

This car is a blast to run hard, and it feels like it's a set of R-compound tires away from being at the top of the time sheets. I still preferred the raw edge of the Evo IX, but the Evo X MR's added comfort was welcome on the drive home.

Joe Gearin Joe Gearin
Associate Publisher

The Evo X is a fun car. It handles well, goes fast, and offers enough practicality to make it a rational daily driver. Sure the interior is cheap and crappy, but I can look past that seeing how well it goes. I wasn't a fan of the computer/ human interface part of the machine though. Just changing a radio station requires using the display screen, and can be infuriating. During my time with the car it felt like it was constantly trying to prove it was smarter than I. The manumatic trans works well, but doesn't offer the same interaction a true clutch (pedal) can provide. After a while all the electronic gadgetry really wore thin, and I found myself longing for the manual trans, stripped out version.

Case in point: To use the launch, put the TC-SST control into S-Sport. Then, deactivate the Active Stability Control: one touch for regular off, or press and hold for super jackass mode extra off. Apply the brake VERY FIRMLY, then stab the throttle to the floor. The revs will rapidly jump to 5000, and when they’re there, quickly release the brake and you’re on your way in a good hurry. If the revs don’t climb quickly, your foot isn’t on the brake hard enough and you’re abusing the hell out of your clutch. You’ll know when you’re doing it right.

I'd rather just use a clutch pedal, and avoid all the digital nonsense.

Cool car, but $44K is a lot to spend. The less expensive, and more direct manual trans model would be my choice. There was also quite a bit of driveline snatch, and odd noises (clunking) coming from the chassis and powertrain. This didn't make me feel confident in it's long term reliability.

Tom Heath Tom Heath
UberDork

I really like the Evo X, but can't seem to get over the sticker shock. Aside from the interior, I can't fault the car for anything really; I love the styling, acceleration, and handling. Even the car's street manners are very good, making it a good choice for people who can't have a second, dedicated track/autocross car. I can't get past the price bloat, though—40k is simply too much in my book. I suppose that's why they introduced the more inexpensive Evo Ralliart.

Joe had a really interesting observation—the TC-SST gearbox and two-pedal operation make the new Evo a brilliant choice for conversion to hand controls for people who need it. Something like this kempf setup would be perfect- http://www.kempf-usa.com/Handcontrols_description.html

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