In 2000 I was 13, a young and very impressionable teen who spent my Sundays glued to the TV watching the World Rally Championship in its prime. Tommi Makinen had just won his 4th consecutive WRC title which made him my hero. In 2001 Mitsubishi released the Ralliart Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 6.5 Tommi Makinen Edition into Australia and through some miracle, my dad snagged the press car for a weekend. I remember the first time it the turbo came onto boost, the rush was intoxicating and I swore I would have one, no if’s or buts.
Just before I turned 21 I had been pestering my dad about getting an Evo 6.5, the V8 Commodores I had weren’t cutting it anymore. About 6 months of hassling and 3 months searching, I dragged him over to Melbourne to find my Evo and what a rocket she is.
Everything I had read about them was true. It just gripped and gripped like I couldn’t believe. Jump on the amazing Brembo’s as hard and late and you can, point at the apex, stand on the gas and hold on! Its in no ways a delicate procedure but boy does it get you places fast. How I haven’t lost my licence is a mystery to all my mates who come driving with me. Boost is addictive, anytime over 3,500rpm I swear the devil himself pops out and demands you to keep your foot into it.
To this day after 4 years of ownership the grip still amazes me. The way the whole car communicates what is going on inspires confidence. AWD is definitely king in my backyard, the tight twisty roads of the Adelaide hills. At the local racetrack at the highest of limits it can be a little understeery as you would expect an AWD car like this. But if you really want to you can trail brake it into corners and slide it like Tommi.
The best thing about the Evo 6.5 is that every drive is an occasion. You can’t putter it down to the shops for groceries, because you’ll find any reason to get it over that magic 3,500rpm and blow some poor commuter out of the way. The suspension is so stiff you have to drive fast to smooth out the bumps. But that’s the whole point of this car, it’s a tool. A weapon purely to attack any section of road and exploit it as fast as possible. It doesn’t have an off switch, just when your bellow 3,500rpm it kicks, screams and moans at you to drop a gear and get after it.
Which makes it tiring, overwhelming and downright boring place to be in when you’re not on it. The interior is well set out, the Recaro’s are fantastic for your shoulders but the leg support is useless. With the g-forces you can create, you end up bracing your knees on the door and dashboard. The Momo steering wheel is amazing and the heater and demister are 2nd to none. The turning circle is abysmal and on par with a bendy bus so you spend plenty of time spinning the wheel (handbrake turns optional and recommended). Rear vision is rubbish, the spoiler is so high. But it does have a special hidden talent other than being adjustable. When someone is frustrated and annoyed at how much fun you’re having and tries to blast you with their high beams, the spoiler actually blocks the light so it doesn’t blind you. Thank you Mitsubishi engineers.
Its dam reliable too, after 4 years I have only had 2 issues where it needed to be off the road for mechanical attention. Once for a clutch (which now makes everyday left leg day) and just recently the radiator top tank split on me. But hey a 15 year old car that’s awesome. Yes I have been through too many tyres and brake pads but that’s a small oversight for the fun it delivers.
Would I recommend anyone to own one? Unless you slightly mad, have plenty of points on your license and purely love the thrill that Group A rallying was then go for it. You won’t be disappointed when it’s on song. For me it’s been worth 20L/100km, the arguments with my Dad, the banging and popping from the exhaust waking up the neighbours at 6am, the experience is all worth it.