2011 Mitsubishi Evo MR Review [video]

With its future uncertain, if it gets axed, or just changed, we’ll miss the Evo either way

2011 Mitsubishi Evo MR Review [video]

An episode of The Simpsons that aired in 1995 gave us a vision of life in the year 2010, and the marriage of Lisa Simpson to a British aristocrat. Amid talk of World War III, sentient robots and flying cars, Lisa and her fiancé part ways after he tells her she is “a flower that grew out of a pot of dirt”. We may not be blessed with Jetsons-era technology, but we are blessed with a Venus Fly Trap of a car, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR, one that truly did emerge from a worm-infested vase of mulch.


1. The Evo is powered by a 291-hp 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder and can hit 60 mph in roughly 4.5 seconds.

2. MR models come with Bilstein shocks, Eibach springs, upgraded Brembo brakes and the 6-speed SST Twin-Clutch transmission.

3. As of writing this Mitsubishi CEO Osamu Masuko has refuted claims that the Evo will be axed, but did say the car will “evolve” and head in a new direction.

Mitsubishi is in a difficult spot, with a lineup that is radioactive to buyers and lacking the resources to do much about it, but that hasn’t stopped them from making strides. The new Outlander Sport is a decent effort, but cars like the dismal Galant still loom in the background. Fortunately, the brand has a luminous halo in the form of the Lancer Evolution, a car that does nothing for the company’s bottom line, but everything for its image and reputation.


With the Evo comes all the hype of more than a decade of American consumers being denied this car, and it’s important to establish the Evo is many things, but refined is not one of them. The interior is still behind the Koreans in terms of quality and finish. The ride is stiff and uncompromising in day to day driving, the Recaro seats, while aesthetically arresting, offer little concessions to comfort or convenience, the trunk can barely hold a carry-on suitcase and a helmet bag (essentials for a track day far from home) and the go-fast bits like the BBS alloys, bright red Brembo brakes and the painfully gauche rear wing (notably absent on our test car) would give one second thoughts about taking the boss for lunch in this car.

Fuel economy is also abysmal, with a tiny tank and a thirsty turbocharged 4-cylinder engine returning 12 mpg in our admittedly spirited city driving. Nevertheless, we have seen V8 muscle cars like the Ford Shelby GT500 deliver better numbers, and this isn’t the first time AutoGuide has gotten outrageously poor fuel economy from the EVO.


Mitsubishi threw all of its eggs into the performance basket, and if this is the kind of omelet you want, you will be richly rewarded. The steering has NASA-like precision, always direct, well weighted and blessed with the ability to move the car using inputs from the pads of your fingers. 

Get the Flash Player to see this player.

“Vague” is a word noticeably absent from the vocabulary of the Evo’s engineering team. You are always plugged in to every function of the car. The motor might make a dull drone and a host of turbo sucking sounds, but those get lost in the periphery as you try and keep your vision after stepping on the gas. The sprint to 60 mph is quoted at roughly 4.5 seconds, a tame figure by modern performance car standards, but you would never know that, since highway onramps can have you well beyond that without even trying. The same kind of pace can be kept when you exit the freeway, with the Evo staying absolutely unflappable no matter the situation. The car rewards good driving and absolves your worst sins behind the wheel, leaving you with a rush of serotonin to the brain, and your passengers queasy with the terror of imminent death.

Halfway through our week with the car some time back in mid-winter, we were dumped with a foot of snow, and it didn’t matter one iota. One switch of the all-wheel-drive control to “Snow” mode and we braved whiteout conditions, burning down the freeway at 80 mph, the Evo surefooted as can be, dodging panicking drivers in SUVs on the way to our destination. At a Starbucks pit stop, donuts and rally-style heroics through the unplowed parking lot were the norm, leaving us scarcely believing that we weren’t playing a video game.

Although our hearts may have been set on a stick-shift, the Evo’s twin clutch SST gearbox was better matched to this car than our ham-fisted shifting. Unlike other systems, such as the Volkswagen DSG or Ford’s own dual clutch, this one is firmly biased towards feeling like a manual. On inclines, the engine revs itself noticeably before the electronic clutches let out and the car crawls forward. Shifts are quick in “Sport” mode, though less noticeable in the “Normal” setting. The paddles are large and easy to manipulate, and passing someone even in 6th is laughably easy. If you really need to haul ass, a couple clicks of the left hand stalk and they’ll soon be a fuzzy blip in your rearview mirror.


As we drove the Evo, we began to think of the Nissan GT-R, another car kept from our shores for so long, only to be recently released here amid enormous fanfare. Ultimately, the GT-R proved to be polarizing, with some loving the techno-gadgetry and vicious performance, while others detested the lack of visceral interaction, the enormous bulk and the juvenile aura surrounding the car. With the Evo, you can have it all in a smaller, slightly more discrete package, with a useable backseat and no trouble communicating with the driver.

Even amid a bitter, damp February, the Evo was an automotive anti-depressant, a car that reminded us that even though most mainstream cars are so sanitized as to be nearly indistinguishable, something truly special can emerge and make us feel enthusiastic about the automobile again, even from a company that is going through truly dire times.


In today’s marketplace, the idea of “branding” often comes before the actual product, and if you opted for the Audi S4, a more expensive but elementally similar car to the Evo, but costing $10,000 more, you can have a “premium” ownership experience, attract members of the opposite sex and impress friends and family with supposed financial success. On the other hand, you can eschew the kitschy cachet of driving an “Ahhdeee”, ignoring the shiny and pretty, and walk into a dank, empty showroom staffed by people whose shirt and tie came in the same box, and cut a check for a $37,000 sedan that will tear your face off and leave the flesh hanging off its Fisher Price interior.

The choice is yours – but if you choose the Mitsubishi, you will know that you chose the best car, one with a transcendental appeal that will bring you unbridled joy behind the wheel long after the tastemakers have moved on to the next “must-have” luxury car. The fact that the Evo is slated to die (or ‘evolve’) within a couple years should give you a sense of urgency about owning one, but frankly, if you are the kind of person who is willing to buy this car, you have probably made up your mind before reading this review, rather than being a fashion victim of the latest chic luxury brands.


2011 Subaru Impreza WRX STI Review – First Drive 2010 Audi S4: First Drive

  • Scook97

    I LOVE my EVO MR, all the negatives of this car go away the second the gas is hit:D

  • Szilárd István Nagy

    I always wanted an Evo, I knew last year that it will soon go out of production, so I desperately needed to own one, I moved mountains to obtain the finances and bought a used 2011 MR in almost new condition in 10000 miles on it, never regreted the choice, we will be good friends long time.

« Back

AutoGuide.com’s Monthly Overlay Newsletter Signup – By subscribing to our email newsletter, Entrants are eligible to win one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card (value of $100.00 USD). One (1) winner will be chosen every month at random and contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. *Amazon.com is not a sponsor of this promotion. Except as required by law, Amazon.com Gift Cards ("GCs") cannot be transferred for value or redeemed for cash. GCs may be used only for purchases of eligible goods at Amazon.com or certain of its affiliated websites. For complete terms and conditions, see www.amazon.com/gc-legal. GCs are issued by ACI Gift Cards, Inc., a Washington corporation. All Amazon ®, ™ & © are IP of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. No expiration date or service fees.


2. PRIZE: One (1) Winner will be randomly selected every month to each receive: one (1) $100.00 Amazon.com Gift Card (the “Prize Supplier”). Total approximate retail value of all prizes is approximately $100.00 USD. Prizes are not transferable and no cash or prize substitution is allowed. Prize package is awarded "as is" with no warranty or guarantee, either express or implied.

3. ELIGIBILITY: From the time of entry through the final date of prize fulfillment, each contest entrant and selected entrant must be a permanent lawful citizen and resident residing in the 50 United States or the District of Columbia or in Canada, and be twenty one (21) years of age or older. VOID IN PUERTO RICO, THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS, IN ALL FOREIGN COUNTRIES OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES, AND ALL OTHER U.S. TERRITORIES OR CANADA AND POSSESSIONS AND WHERE PROHIBITED OR RESTRICTED BY LAW. Employees, officers, directors, agents and representatives, of the Sponsor and the Prize Supplier and each of their respective parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising and promotion agencies, promotion partners and any entity involved in the development, production, implementation, administration or fulfillment of this Sweepstakes, and the immediate family members (e.g., spouse, mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, grandparent, in-law, daughter and son, regardless of where they live) and persons living in the same household (whether or not related) of such individuals are not eligible to participate or win. Only one selected entrant per household. All decisions of the Sponsor with respect to this sweepstakes are final. The Sponsor shall have the right at any time to require proof of identity and failure to provide such proof may result in disqualification from the Sweepstakes.

4. ENTER BY INTERNET: You may enter this sweepstakes via the Internet by logging onto AutoGuide.com and subscribing to our email newsletter via the pop-up overlay.

5. SELECTION OF WINNER: One (1) Entrant will be selected by random selection who have subscribed to our email newsletter. The winner may be announced publicly on AutoGuide.com and will be contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. The winner will be required to provide a mailing address (that is not a P.O. box) to receive the prize which will be shipped free of charge.

6. ODDS OF WINNING: Odds of winning a prize are determined by the total number of eligible entries received.

7. RESTRICTIONS: The prize package consists of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card with an approximate value of $100.00 USD. If prize cannot be awarded due to circumstances beyond the control of the Sponsor or Prize Supplier, no substitute prize will be awarded due to the unique nature of the prize. Sponsor and Prize Supplier shall not be liable to the winner or any person claiming through winner for failure to supply the prize or any part thereof, by reason of any acts of God, any action(s), regulation(s), order(s) or request(s) by any governmental or quasi-governmental entity (whether or not the action(s), regulations(s), order(s) or request(s) prove(s) to be invalid), equipment failure, utility failure, internet failure, terrorist acts, threatened terrorist acts, air raid, blackout, act of public enemy, earthquake, war (declared or undeclared), fire, flood, epidemic, explosion, unusually severe weather, hurricane, embargo, labor dispute or strike (whether legal or illegal) labor or material shortage, transportation interruption of any kind, work slow-down, civil disturbance, insurrection, riot, or any other cause beyond Sponsor's or Prize Supplier's control (collectively, "Force Majeure Event"). Sponsor shall not be responsible for any cancellations, delays, diversions or substitutions or any act or omissions whatsoever by the performers/events, other transportation companies or any other persons providing any of these services and accommodations to passengers including any results thereof such as changes in services or accommodations necessitated by same.

8. CONDITIONS: By entering the Sweepstakes, entrants agree to be bound by the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions and that Sponsor has the irrevocable right to use in perpetuity entrants' names, user names, likenesses, photographs, voices, home mailing address, biographical and prize information, and entry materials, without notice to entrants and without compensation or obligation, in any and all media now or hereafter known throughout the world, in any manner whatsoever, to advertise and promote Sponsor, its products and services, the Sweepstakes, and for any other purpose except where prohibited by law. Entrant waives the right to assert as a cost of winning a prize any and all costs of verification and redemption or travel to redeem said prize and any liability which might arise from redeeming or seeking to redeem said prize. Sponsor is not responsible for fraudulent calls or emails made to entrants not by the Sponsor. If the Sweepstakes is not capable of running as planned by reason of damage by computer viruses, worms or bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical limitations or failures, any Force Majeure Event or any other cause which, in the sole opinion of Sponsor, could corrupt, compromise, undermine or otherwise affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity, viability or proper conduct of the Sweepstakes, Sponsor reserves the right, in its sole and absolute discretion, to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend all or any part of the Sweepstakes, and to select a winner from among all eligible entries received by Sponsor up until the time of such cancellation, termination, modification or suspension, as applicable. Sponsor reserves the right in its sole discretion to disqualify any individual that (i) tampers or attempts to tamper with the entry process or the operations of this Sweepstakes in any manner, (ii) violates the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions or (iii) acts in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner, or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other person. CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT BY AN ENTRANT OR ANY OTHER INDIVIDUAL TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THIS SWEEPSTAKES IS A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS. SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, SPONSOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK CIVIL AND/OR CRIMINAL PROSECUTION AND/OR DAMAGES FROM ANY SUCH PERSON TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW. Any expenses and receipt and use of the prize and federal, state and local taxes and fees applicable in connection with the prize awarded are the sole responsibility of the winner. An IRS Form 1099 will be issued in the name of the winner for the actual value of the prize received. This Sweepstakes is subject to all federal, state and local laws of the United States. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. Sponsor, Prize Supplier, and their respective officers, directors, parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries and advertising and promotion agencies, employees, representatives and agents are not responsible for and shall not be liable for (i) any injuries, losses or damages of any kind caused by a prize resulting from acceptance, possession or usage of the prize, or (ii) printing, distribution or production errors. Sponsor or its affiliates may rescind any promotion found to contain such errors without liability at its or their sole discretion.

9. SPONSOR: The Sponsor of this contest is VerticalScope Inc. (the owner and operator of AutoGuide.com), 111 Peter Street, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, M5V 2H1.

Subscribe to our email newsletter and automatically be entered to win.
*Restrictions apply. See offer for details

Get Breaking Automotive News, Reviews and Video in your Facebook Feed!

Already Liked