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Evo through the Eyes of...

Four different perspectives of Australia's greatest bang-for-buck supercar - the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX...

By Michael Knowling

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At a glance...

  • Four people's perspective on the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX
  • We all know its specs and performance - but what's it really like?
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The Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX is a car with a reputation for speed. If you’ve read our previous review (Evo 9 has Arrived) there’s a good chance you’re already aware of its specs – 206kW, Super Active Yaw Control, Active Centre diff, Brembo brakes and full aero package – so we won’t recite what you already know.

But how well does the Evo stack up from a range of perspectives? Is it a hard-edged racer posing as a street car or is it something that’s genuinely useable? We get feedback from four drivers experienced with high-performance cars...

Meet the Drivers...

Chris is a 54 year old proprietor of a cleaning business who has recently owned a Holden Commodore SS 5.7 and a HSV GTS 300kW. He currently drives a Subaru Liberty 3.0RB, Cobra replica and Datsun 1600 Sports soft-top.

Andy is a 33 year old firefighter who currently owns his second 2000 Subaru Impreza WRX (with light tuning mods).

Mellissa is a 26 year old child care worker who has recently owned a lightly modified Nissan Pintara 2.4 and Daihatsu Charade Turbo. She currently owns a tweaked Nissan 180SX.

Ray is a 56 year old retiree who has recently owned a Subaru Liberty RS fitted with a high-flow exhaust. It’s a car he wishes he never sold.

And how do I know all these people? Chris is a former neighbour, Andy is a friend, Mellissa is my wife and Ray my dad!

Chris’ Impressions

“The handling is the go for this car.

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“Through these medium speed corners it feels very secure. The rear of my [now sold] HSV GTS would have moved around where this car feels very controlled. It’s extremely forgiving – there was a small patch of sand on one of the corners it didn’t even notice. I think it would be a great performance car for a relatively inexperienced driver.

“There’s not a lot of body roll and, to me, it feels like a go-cart. The steering is also very good – direct but not too fast in response.

“You can feel the undulations of the road through the steering and it can tram-line so you need to keep a grip of the steering wheel. But I like the feel of it. The suspension is pretty right for this type of car – it’s tight and you get bounced more than in a HSV but I think it’s acceptable. But it needs a different set of tyres – there’s a lot of rumble and, because of that, I don’t think it’s the sort of car you’d want to drive long distance.

“A car like this should also have cruise control. It’s also missing any real seat adjustment but I do like the driving position. The seats are also very comfortable and have good support. Visibility is pretty good – the big rear wing isn’t a problem.”

And what of the Evo’s turbocharged 2-litre engine?

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“The engine feels a bit agricultural – it’s not what I’d call a classy engine. The Holden V8 and HSV are more refined and smoother. There also a few whining noises from somewhere and the exhaust note is a bit disappointing – I’d want a car like this to have a nice sound.

“Sometimes after I back off the throttle, like for a gear change, the engine tends to hold revs which I find annoying. It can also be jerky when gently on/off the throttle.

“The gearbox has a sporty type of shift but sixth gear is hard to find – I need to be quite firm with it. The engine isn’t really responsive in sixth or even fifth gear when driving at around 100 km/h – it really needs to go back to fourth. At above 3000 rpm the engine is okay.

“The brakes feel reasonable but I would’ve thought the Brembos would have more bite [tested with a medium amount of pedal pressure] . The handbrake lever also comes up way too far – it might need adjusting.

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“I think this a very much a fun car - but , with the lack of some bits and pieces, it’s not for me. I might be too old for it... [laughs] To me it’s worth about 50 grand. With the equipment it has, the car kind of reminds me of the cut-price version of the Holden SS – the SV8.”

Mellissa’s Impressions

“I like the car – it’s very easy to drive.

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“The steering feels similar to my 180SX’s – I like the weight and response. It makes the car feel very precise. But it tramlines badly. I find it tiring to drive.

“The engine is okay. It’s a quick car but it’s also pretty weak that it can’t reverse up a steep driveway without slipping the clutch or giving it some revs from the start. It’s also pretty noisy in a negative kind of way – it’s not a sporty sounding engine.

“Adjusting the seats in this car is difficult. There’s no driver’s seat height adjustment and I find that I’m sitting too low. It’s also difficult to get my hand on the winder for the backrest – there’s not enough space. The inside of the front seats also rub against the centre console – it’s almost like the seats were added at the last minute...

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“The interior is also pretty basic given the car’s price. It doesn’t have electric seats, cruise control or even a courtesy light for the glovebox. It’s also unusual that it doesn’t have steering wheel controls for the stereo.

“The car feels great through corners but in normal driving I find the tyre noise unbearable – it’s mainly when slowing down. And the turning circle is huge. When it hits full lock I expect there to be another turn of the wheel.

“At around AUD$60,000 [with the optional Performance Pack comprising lightweight BBS wheels and Bilstein struts] I don’t think the price is too bad. But I can’t see it being used as an every day car. As a second car I think it’d be great.”

Andy’s Impressions

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“From the passenger seat, this car feels quicker than my WRX - but it doesn’t feel that way when I’m driving it. I think they’re fairly similar in performance. But I like the gear ratios – they helps get rid of some of the lag. The engine is also pretty quiet compared to my WRX [with a big exhaust] .

“I like the feel of the brakes and gearshift – you always know when it’s gone into gear. Better than my Subaru. The clutch is also pretty quick to engage so it’d be pretty easy to stall.

“The steering I think takes some getting used to. It’s really responsive and [on B-grade country roads] you can feel it tugging – it’s not the sort of car you’d want to let go of the steering wheel. And, yeah, the turning circle is terrible. I’d hate to drive it through a tight carpark.

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“Apart from the steering the car feels very sure-footed. It doesn’t move around much at all but, I see it does have some pretty big tyres [235/45 17]. The tyres also have a pretty chunky tread which is making some road noise but, overall, I think it’s pretty quiet. I think it’s a comfortable car. The ride is pretty much what I expected – it’s firm but not much firmer than my WRX.

“I like the interior – it’s kind of minimalist but it’s trimmed really nicely. I like the leather and suede. It also has pretty good interior space. More than my WRX.

“Looks good too – I like it.”

Ray’s Impressions

“Geez, the gearbox feels notchy and the handbrake lever comes up way too far.

“There’s also a lot of noise from gearbox or the tyres. It’s shocking.

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“But the engine is great. It’s more responsive than my [sold] Subaru Liberty RS and it really likes to spin – it bloody goes. I can also put into a high gear sooner. The gearing is more flexible.

“It feels very secure. I’m not going to push it here – it really needs to go onto a racetrack, I think – but I know it’s incredible in handling. The ride is okay – it’s firm but not uncomfortable.

“The steering is very quick but it’s not nervous. You can feel everything on the road. I’m surprised there are no controls on the steering wheel – most new cars seem to have that.

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“It’s not bad inside for space – there’s plenty of room behind my seat and the boot is pretty big. But look at the boot carpet – that looks cheap. Not what you’d want in a car costing this much. I find the pedals are also too close together and the instruments are difficult to read – especially the speedo. The redline isn’t clear – it’s marking is the same colour as the rest of the instruments.

“But it’s an incredible car. It’s not for me - but it’s a weapon...”

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