Everyone knows what the term midlife crisis means and the type of car that often accompanies it. I am not at this stage in my life (yet), but I have happened upon a term/concept which I find quite amusing – the quarterlife crisis. Many folks under forty are finding themselves in an area of life when you no longer need just a point A-point B commuter car, it can be something more exciting. However, the true quarterlife crisis person cannot afford fancy German marquees or luxury American cars with three-letter names. This calls for something with plenty of push under the hood mixed with hints of econobox-styling inside to keep the price lower. Say hello to the 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution GSR and welcome to the jungle, this car is fun and games.
Ok, I admit that “econobox-styled interior” may be a bit harsh since this Evo comes with very supportive Recaro seats up front that hug and squeeze me through every turn. The steering wheel feels solid in my hand, the sound system sounds good thanks to the nine (plus a subwoofer) Rockford Fosgate speakers, and the gauge cluster is clean and easy to read. The issue lies in the center stack area where the Evo looks almost empty compared to most other cars on the road, and even compared to other performance focused cars. Some cars these days have too much going on inside while this Evo doesn’t quite have enough. Also, if you ever want to swap that radio head unit out for an aftermarket model you now have a useless display sitting in your dash.
My very minor interior issues aside, this car is a carnival ride come to life, minus the standard carnival safety violations. The 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution GSR comes standard with dual front, front seat mounted side, side curtain, and driver’s side knee airbags.
The turbocharged 2.0L inline four-cylinder, which is mated to a five-speed manual transmission, puts all 291 horses and 300 lb-ft of torque out to the pavement via Mitsubishi’s Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC) system. With settings for Tarmac, Gravel, and Snow, along with limited-slip differentials in the front and rear, the S-AWC is smarter than I am and keeps the Lancer Evolution moving quickly in a direction which doesn’t involve guardrails or other stationary objects. It alters the amount of power being fed to the front and rear tires to keep the power where it should be while balancing the available grip and traction. All I have to do is push the gas, shift the transmission, and point the car where I want it to go.
The Evo begs that I launch in first gear with a good amount of RPMs built up, otherwise the car leaves in a bogged down burble. Regardless of my launch speed, once into 2nd gear and above 3,000 RPMs it feels like a second-stage rocket booster has engaged. My body melds to those above-mentioned Recaro seats and I glance down at the speedometer half expecting it to read Ludicrous Speed. It doesn’t and I am not going that fast, but the sense of speed this car provides is fantastic. It builds like a rushing wave, starting small then bursting forth as the turbo screams out from under the hood and the exhaust note switches from droning to wailing.
It is not just fast in a straight line; the Evo hugs turns better than the Recaro seats hug my body. Front and rear stabilizer bars, a front strut tower bar, and the rear diffuser keep the ride flat and extremely confident in any corner I threw at the car. It is very difficult to make this car feel unstable and I was unable to do. It goes, turns, and stops with a purpose and I just held on and enjoyed every bit of the ride.
With a base MSRP of $32,990 ($35,685.00 as tested) this car is by no means inexpensive. That is if you are comparing it to most other cars, which it is not. This is a small price to pay to drive a beast in flared Mitsubishi clothing that can make anyone believe he or she is Sébastien Loeb. Not everyone will love this car due to the dramatic exterior styling and incessant exhaust drone.
Regardless of who would love this car however, anyone who actually gets to spend some time behind the wheel will love this car.