2014 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution: the End of a Lot of Eras

2014 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution

In the wake of receiving a number of IIHS Top Safety Pick+ ratings, Mitsubishi launched the First Ride program, which allows new parents to bring their newborn babies home from the hospital in new Mitsubishi Outlander, free of charge, ensuring that baby’s most important ride is also one of baby’s safest. It’s a great program for urban families who may not have access to a large, modern vehicle- and one that I thought would be fun to take part in, since we were expecting a little girl. Being difficult, however, I just had to alter the plan.

This, then, is the car that we selected for our daughter’s first ride: Mitsubishi’s award-winning, race-inspired, 291 HP, all-wheel drive Lancer Evolution GSR … which will fit a Chicco KeyFit 30 travel system just fine, thank you very much, as it rockets to 60 MPH in well under 5 seconds.

It’s quite a thing, this 2014 Lancer Evolution. Quite a jaw-dropping, pants-soiling, squeal-inducing thing, indeed.

The 2014 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution is, also, the end of an era. What era- and whether that’s some kind of personal metaphor for parenthood or not- is open for interpretation. It may be that this latest Lancer is the last of a breed of car that was born on the mountain passes of Monte Carlo or Pike’s Peak, honed in the forests of Europe behind badges like Delta Integrale, Metro R64, Quattro, and others. The Evo is also one of the last cars who can trace their lineage back to such legendary performance machines as the Starion and the Laser/Talon/Eclipse Diamond-Star triplets.

Those cars, the ones I just mentioned, were released upon a generation that said things like “no replacement for displacement” without irony. To them, 4 cylinders wore panties and the only way to make a fast car was to stuff a monstrous, gas-guzzling truck engine into a tiny, open-topped chassis and slap a snake name on it. That formula worked, of course, but it was hugely limited.

A few decades on, we know better. The fact that the Evolution’s 2.0 liter 4 cylinder puts out over 290 HP doesn’t shock us, despite the fact that we used to think the old Fox-body 5.0 liter Mustangs were fast, and they only had 205 HP. The baddest of the bad-boy Cobra Mustangs of the era had just 245 HP, in fact, and were nearly a second slower to 60 than Mitsubishi’s 4-door sedan.

A few decades on, though, we know even better, still. We’re not surprised by a powerful 4 cylinder engine, but we expect a car to blast us from 0-60 in under 5 seconds and do better than 23 miles per gallon on the highway.

We expect to have our cake, and eat it, too, in other words. And why shouldn’t we? We have tablets and smart phones and smart watches and smart bicycles and more computing power in our refrigerators than NASA had during the Apollo program. We live in an age of magic, and – dammit! – we demand magical results, especially when we read stories about 1000 HP Nissans getting about 20 MPG and 500+ HP Corvettes brushing up against 30 MPG.

In that context, in a look forward and not a look back, the 23 MPG Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution doesn’t look quite as clever as it did back when a 5.0 Mustang could only muster 17 MPG.

Mitsubishi knows all that, of course, and it’s looking forward to next year, when an all-new, range-topping sporty Mitsu is unveiled in Tokyo (probably). We’ve talked a lot about what that car might be, too, with “re-born 3000 GT sports car” and “super-awesome AWD diesel hybrid” taking the top spots in what is either a list of educated guesses or wistful daydreams.

That’s tomorrow, though. Let’s talk about today.


Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution | Driving the Legend

After nearly two decades in motorsports, I’ve driven more than my fair share of exotic sports cars and high-horsepower track cars. You could say, then, that I’m pretty jaded – especially when you consider the last Evo I drove …

… yeah. That was a thing. Even still, the 2014 factory-fresh version of the Lancer Evolution is pretty impressive. It’s always faster than you think it’ll be, and the steering, braking, and handling are almost surgically precise – even compared to the car’s mighty predecessors – thanks in part to the advancements made in the electronic safety nannies and thanks, in another part, to the mass shift achieved by moving the battery to the trunk of the car.

If you’ve ever thought of buying a Lancer Evolution, I can confidently say that this 2014 Evo GSR is the best one they’ve ever made.


Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution | Does it Work?

As a giant-killing street and strip weapon, there is no question that the 2014 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution GSR works. As a daily driver, though? The biggest (only?) drawback of trying to DD the Evo are these …

2014 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Interior

… which I, sadly, am too fat for. That seemed surprising, since I’ve been in ultra-sporty Recaro and Bride seats in the pretty recent past and haven’t had the same kind of “Gah! Ouch! I can’t feel me leg!” issues I had in this car. I haven’t gained much (any?) weight in the interim, either, so I can only assume that Mitsubishi’s current sport seats are designed with pint-sized Yakuza pimp in mind, as opposed to the ever-expanding asses of corn-fed, midwestern ‘Muricans.

That said, the Evo’s dashboard seemed a bit Clinton-era, but in a good way. It wasn’t cluttered and confusing in the ways that I’ve accused the Chevy Cruze and Lexus CT200 h of being. It felt open, airy, and roomy. If it had been fitted with the standard Lancer’s seats, or just seats that didn’t give us back spasms, I think I could’ve convinced the wife to let me buy one.

Finally, since all car reviews these days eventually become infotainment system reviews (blame carmakers like Ford for that), you’ll be happy to discover that the Mitsu’s system was simple, intuitive, and really not worth writing about. That’s a solid win, in my book.


Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution | Final Thoughts

There will never be another car like the 2014 Lancer Evolution GSR. To some people, that might be a good thing. To enthusiasts of a certain age, though, the loss of the Evo will be a sad and tragic thing. It is the passing of cars with 5 speed manual transmissions, it is the passing of mechanical traction gadgetry, too, and it will make way for some kind of computerized, electrified, digitized thing.

Whatever the Evo makes way for, though, it won’t be as good. Not in any of the ways that matter to the type of people who buy these things, anyway.

So, if you have the means, this is the car to buy. It’s a highly refined version of the original, and so very close to the sort of Group B rally beast that you really want but can’t have … but, in a good way. In a way that you can put baby seats and strollers into with a straight face, then scare the pants off the kid on the drive home.


Original content from Gas 2.

Jo Borrás

I've been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, out on two wheels, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.