2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution

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$32,990

starting MSRP

2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution

Key specs

Base trim shown

Overview

The good:

  • Performance potential
  • Sporty seats
  • Heavy-duty brakes
  • Lots of safety features

The bad:

  • Styling not all that different from regular Lancer
  • Ride may not be sporty enough for some
  • Manual transmission lacks sixth gear

2 trims

Starting msrp listed lowest to highest price

Wondering which trim is right for you?

Our 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution trim comparison will help you decide.

Notable features

  • 291-hp turbocharged engine
  • Manual or automated-manual transmission
  • Standard AWD
  • Competes with Subaru WRX STI

2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution review: Our expert's take

By

The verdict:

Versus the competiton:


Mitsubishi Motors plans to abandon its failed policy of pursuing the mainstream. That means, as publicly announced in Automotive News and other industry trade journals, Mitsubishi will stop production of its mid-size Galant sedan at its assembly plant in Normal, Ill., after the 2008 model year.

That is a good thing. The Galant is a bread-and-butter car served in what amounts to an exotic foods market, thanks to numerous Mitsubishi rivals that offer more appealing products. Bread and butter, as a result, tend to get picked over, or forgotten altogether on more interesting tables, which has long been the case for the Galant — a good car that gathers little attention and even fewer sales.

Instead of producing easily ignored mass-market automobiles, Mitsubishi plans to use its Illinois facility to do what the company does best — turn out low-volume specialty products that command fanatically loyal support from consumers worldwide.

Consider, for example, this week’s subject automobile, the 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR. It is a super-performance car, currently assembled in Mizushima, Japan. It is sold in the United States for what, to many driving enthusiasts, is an “affordable” price under $40,000.

A word of caution: “Driving enthusiasts” are hereby differentiated from “normal drivers.” In their quest for ultimate driving pleasure — speed, handling, power — driving enthusiasts often downplay, or otherwise redefine things that are of major importance to normal drivers, such as cost, comfort and convenience.

Accordingly, the Lancer Evolution MR and its more gut-wrenching sibling, the Lancer Evolution GSR, are not cars for everybody. They are low-slung, hard-riding automobiles of breathless acceleration and handling that seem more suitable for racetracks than they are for daily commuting. That, in fact, is their heritage. Now in their 10th-model generation, they were developed to compete in the World Rally Championship races, which they often finished victoriously.

Mitsubishi, in that regard, is an odd company. It is a conglomerate — a maker of many things, a provider of multiple services. Perhaps, because of its diversity, Mitsubishi often honors both mediocrity and exceptionality, turning out truly boring products — the Galant is a good example — and beating the pants off all comers when it has a mind to do something special.

Look at the Lancer Evolution MR. Mitsubishi takes fast driving seriously. The 18-inch diameter, low-aspect-ratio Yokohama tires are expressly designed for dry, paved-road speed and handling. They even come with a consumer advisory pasted to the interior panel of the front, driver’s-side door, telling the owner to switch to snow tires, or something more appropriate, for winter motoring.

It’s the kind of thing that most normal drivers would ignore, or certainly find unnecessarily expensive, or annoying. But the Lancer MR and GSR are made for more demanding types, people who want peak automotive performance in all seasons and who don’t mind paying or doing a bit more to get it.

For those people, the Lancer Evolution MR with its turbocharged, 291-horsepower, four-cylinder engine; its double-clutch, six-speed transmission that can be shifted automatically or manually; its Brembo performance brakes; and waist-hugging Recaro seats is an absolute bargain.

I never thought I’d see anybody smile over a Mitsubishi car with a base price approaching $39,000. But, as I said, “driving enthusiasts” live in a different world.

They gathered around the Lancer Evolution at parking lots in Northern Virginia, asking about its “specs” and performance, angling for a drive, praising its pricing. That was a stunner.

The spectators were mostly young men, many of them gainfully, albeit not richly, employed. But they said they would figure out a way to get the bucks for the Lancer Evolution — probably for the less-expensive, less-tufted GSR. All of that power and all of that speed and handling — at that price! Apparently mistaking me for a salesman, they wanted me to sign them up. They were smitten.

To me — an elder befuddled by youthful infatuation with a $39,000 car that consumes premium unleaded gasoline in an economy that has gone to hell in a handbasket — the would-be Lancer Evolution buyers offered the following bits of logic: “Cheaper than a Ferrari” and “more fun than a Porsche” and “I can get $40,000 faster than I can make $50,000.”

Yeah, Mitsubishi should turn its Illinois plant into a specialty shop. I’ve got a hunch that, with enough sparkle, power and pizazz, offered at the right price, it will sell whatever rolls out of there — even in a down economy.

ON WHEELS WITH WARREN BROWN Listen from noon to 1 p.m. Tuesdays on WMET World Radio (1160 AM) or http://www.wmet1160.com.

Consumer reviews

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 4.0
  • Interior design 3.9
  • Performance 4.6
  • Value for the money 4.4
  • Exterior styling 4.6
  • Reliability 4.4

Most recent consumer reviews

4.1

Fun Car to Drive, Pain to Maintain

This car is a fantastic daily driver, but it doesn't really suit the needs for a family of more than 3, maybe 4. Maintenance costs are high, but worth it. Modifications add power and are multiplicative. A simple cat-back and a tune will net gains you can feel in the seat of your pants.

4.3

Most fun car I have ever owned

This car is a true driver’s car. You are either hard on the breaks, or firing on all cylinders with this car. If you don’t care about economy or a quiet ride, this car will deliver on all other factors. This is by far the sportiest car I have ever and probably will ever drive. It puts out just enough power to overtake almost anybody on the street. It sounds amazing once you upgrade the intake/exhaust. Turbo spools up somewhat late but once it’s up, you are in heaven.

4.3

Awesome car

this car is great once you mod the reliability sucks but thats if you mod it, recaros are awesome the interior is panels do look cheap and feel like the controls aren't really placed in a user friendly spot. But believe when i tell you its smiles per gallon. Also you go through a lot of front break pads car is pretty nose heavy

See all 33 consumer reviews

Warranty

New car and Certified Pre-Owned programs by Mitsubishi
New car program benefits
Bumper-to-bumper
36 months/36,000 miles
Corrosion
84 months/100,000 miles
Powertrain
60 months/60,000 miles
Roadside assistance
60 months/unlimited distance
Certified Pre-Owned program benefits
Maximum age/mileage
Less than 5 years/less than 60,000 miles
Basic warranty terms
Remainder of original 5 years/60,000 miles
Powertrain
Remainder of original 10-year/100,000 miles
Dealer certification required
123-point inspection
Roadside assistance
Yes
View all cpo program details

Have questions about warranties or CPO programs?

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