Do you ever get that feeling of excitement when you know something good is going to happen?
I had butterflies in my stomach and could barely sleep the night before I picked up the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 8 from the Press Depot. I didn’t know what to expect, from what I heard it was an awesome drive and something to yearn for. On the other hand, the images, along with the prospect of driving a $60,000 Lancer didn’t do much for me.
After an early start and an hour and half long drive to the Press Depot, I was finally confronted with the Canary Yellow Evo 8, baring its front mount inter-cooler and aggressive front end. In the flesh, the Evo 8 is just something else; it has a deviating stance, which can only be described as menacing. It sits on light weight 17” Enkei alloy wheels that are engulfed by 320mm Brembo brakes up front and 300mm Brembo brakes at the rear.
After a quick check-over the car it was time to hop in. When you plant your backside into the Recaro’s, they hug you tightly and ensure you don’t move an inch. The Momo steering wheel is of perfect size and has a very pragmatic design. After turning the key and starting the engine, you are met with 3 driving modes. Tarmac, Gravel and Snow. After digging your left foot into the heavy, dry-plate hydraulically controlled clutch you put your hand onto the gear stick and move it into first. It’s only then that you realise how short, sharp and precise the 5-speed gearbox is, it simply leaves you speechless.
An embarrassing moment with the European positioned windscreen wiper stalk is soon overcome with a stab of the accelerator. And what a hearty and mind-blowing stab it is! As the boost continually winds from ~3000RPM right through to ~7800RPM you are left with a grin from ear to ear. The car has very relaxed and stable highway dynamics, the 5th gear revs at around 2800RPM at 100km/h. It would be far more beneficial to have a 6th gear to reduce fuel consumption even further.
The motor is a slouch under 3000RPM; you are simply driving a slightly worked 2.0L engine off-boost. It caught me out on a few occasions, and you get a reality check, making you are aware that it won’t zip you out of a potential hazard unless there are plenty of revs and boost. The Evo 9 is powered by the Mitsubishi 4G63 2.0L MIVEC, turbo-charged L4 engine. It produces 195kW @ 6500RPM and 355Nm @ 3500RPM, although it doesn’t sound like much, the Evo simply doesn’t need any more power, coupled with AWD, 195kW is just right for the Evo, any more and things would start to become un-manageable and slightly less predictable.
On the inside, you certainly don’t feel like you are driving a $60,000 performance machine, it’s very lack lustre and boring. There is an aftermarket Eclipse head unit that looks out of place and tacky. It provides great sound with deep bass but, simply looks…dare I say it…’ricey’. The Evo doesn’t even come with Cruise Control! I would expect something like that even from a low-budget Kia or Daewoo.
When you hit the bends, all the negatives quickly vanish into thin air. The setting for our drive was a tranquil and bushy area near Steiglitz, in Victoria. The Evo 8 continually manages to defy the laws of Physics. You can throw the Evo into a bend at an insane speed and the car simply sticks and shows absolutely no hint of letting go. It’s even hard to get the tyres to squeal. It simply provides an insane amount of grip.
SAYC (Super Active Yaw Control) is a computerized system that varies the ACD (Active Centre Differential) and provides dynamic amounts of power to each wheel. A natural instinct is to correct oversteer in any car. With the Evo, the computer takes care of it, you can feel the back end stepping out but, the Evo corrects it for you and thanks you for your meagre attempt to throw it out of control. Switch the ACD to the ‘Gravel’ setting and be prepared to be amazed. Drop the back end out on a dirt road and add power, with ease, the SAYC manages to help you out significantly, it’s simply astonishing.
There is also a small switch in front of the handbrake that activates a 3 nozzle water spray for the intercooler. It sprays a fine mist of air into the intercooler piping and cools the air prior to being put through the intake process. We couldn’t really feel any major performance difference between the nozzle spray being activated and disabled.
Mitsubishi claims a sub 6-second 0-100km/h time. So, it was only logical to test this theory out. With the clutch pedal in and 1st gear selected, there is a rev-limiter at 5000RPM. After loading it up to 5000RPM, you can hear the engine bouncing off the rev limiter, that’s when you know it’s time to bring the clutch to friction and then side-step it. From there on it feels like there are 3 oversized Sumo wrestlers pushing your chest back into the seat and holding you there with full force, all the way up to ~7800RPM. After a quick stab of the clutch and a short throw of the gear stick into second gear it starts again until you reach 100km/h, in well under 6 seconds, in fact, closer to 5 seconds than 6. I can assure you that the smile didn’t come off my face for the rest of the afternoon.
Braking in the Evo is an easy task. The brakes at the front end are 4-pot 320mm Brembo’s and the rear end is equipped with 2-pot 300mm Brembo’s. They are absolute monsters and showed no fade through our vigorous testing. They pull the Evo up in astonishingly short distances and go hand-in-hand with the cars performance figures. I wear a size-13 and found there was limited room in the foot well for easy heel-toeing, which became somewhat irritating after a while.
Fuel consumption in the Evo is reasonable. We travelled around 1300km and used around 135L of PULP (Premium Unleaded Petrol), which was an average of around 10.38L/100KM. Around 500 of those 1300KM were highway driving, the rest on the other hand was rather heavy handed driving. So, the overall fuel consumption was reasonable for a car of its size.
The Evo 8 has fantastic ‘street-cred’. The Evo is a rare car and people are surprised when they see it on the road. On numerous occasions I noticed people almost trip over whilst turning their heads and gawking at the Canary Yellow machine. Traffic light Grand Prix are sorted out with minimal hassle and leave most gob smacked at how quickly the Evo moves to the speed limit. And before you ask, yes, there were numerous Sti drivers that had a good gander also!
Another downturn to the Evo is the common rev-retainment issue. After accelerating up to around 4000RPM and de-clutching the car takes around 1-2 seconds to drop the revs back to a reasonable level, making the engine rev loudly for a short while and making the driver look like an amateur. After a bit of an investigation, I found out that it’s a common problem between Evo 8 owners and hasn’t yet been resolved.
A lightweight aluminium bonnet contains a haze emitting outlet at the top. The boot lid comes with a lightweight carbon fibre spoiler that is in the worst possible position. It directly blocks the view of trailing traffic in the rear vision mirror and makes it look like other drivers are flashing their lights at you at night time, due to the height of the spoiler. The engine bay is also quite cramped and provides limited room for DIY work.
You’d be hard pressed to find another car that is able to match the handling and potent correction abilities of the Evolution 8. It just does not give way in the corners and the acceleration is just brutal. As a day to day driver it’s very hard to handle, the clutch is way too heavy and there is really very little go under ~3000RPM. But, as a weekend car or a track car, you just can’t go wrong.
The $60,000 price tag is hard to justify when you look at the interior. But, after a weekend away through the bends or at the track, you can easily see why somebody would dish out the cash for one of these. If I had that much money, an Evo 8 would be in my garage and would make a perfect weekend car that would turn heads and provide performance and handling to boot.
- by Paul Maric
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