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by Tony West and Daryl Payne
The 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution combines a tricked out drag racer with a fun everyday city whip. The 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR is the automatic version of the Evo GSR we reviewed last year. But unlike the GSR, the MR is a turbo sedan with a ton of standard enhancements like big aluminum front fenders, a cool black grille with mesh, and large side air dams and chrome and color keyed accents inside out. The MR surprised us with its peppy 4-cylinder and dragster exterior. We reviewed the thrilling Lancer Evolution MR – Wicked White with 18-inch wheels and Yokahama tires.
Tricked-Out Sporty Enhancements
The 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution adds a ton of standard features that make it street race ready. The Lancer Evo is 177 inches long with a 104 inch wheelbase. The 4- door sedan has a huge black mesh grille with chrome bezels and bi-xenon HID headlights with leveling control. I like the subtle additions to the Evo that give it an outstanding performance and fresh youthful look.
Aluminum front fenders, aluminum scuff plates, side air dams, aluminum hood with heat extractor vents, and rear lip spoiler are aftermarket enhancements that come standard. Also cool are the color-keyed outer door handles, colored-keyed power sideview mirrors, and color-keyed hood and fender vents.
The Lancer Evo also has rear combination taillights, dual chrome exhausts and a glass sunroof. Eighteen-inch BBS forged alloy wheels give it a muscle car quality.
The Lancer Evolution MR turned heads, especially muscle car lovers and sports car owners. It is a worthy companion to the manual GSR that gives a crotch rocket performance in a refined powertrain.
Roadrunner Performance with a Refined Powertrain
As a big fan of the Lancer Evo GSR, the automatic MR took some getting use to. The automatic has many features that assist with acceleration and torque distribution, a lot of which the GSR manually controlled.
But once I understood the 2.0 liter MIVEC 4 cylinder and how harmoniously it works with the 6 speed Sportronic Shift transmission, S-AWC, and suspension, the MR became a thrill to drive. The powerful DOHC 16-valve engine delivers instantaneous power and torque at virtually any rpm within the powerband.
With reinforced cast-aluminum block and aluminum head fitted with Mitsubishi’s MIVEC variable valve timing, the Evo MR’s impressive engine features a “square” design as both its boar and stroke measure an equal 86 mm, accompanied by a compression ratio of 9.0:1. The turbo 4-cylinder boasts 291 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 300 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm. The 4-cylinder is powerful and pristine, delivering a smooth yet beastly aggression with a throaty exhaust note.
To a street racer, the new Evo MR looks like a worthy competitor with cool aftermarket enhancements. The whip drives like a manual inspired automatic, giving the perks of manual shifting like instant torque delivery, but with none of the extra work. The turbocharger increases power by pushing air into engine cylinders.
With the MR, a person can drive like a drag racer because the Twin-Clutch Sportronic Shift Transmission (TC-SST) works with a ton of features under the hood.
The Evo MR’s automatic transmission utilizes a pair of multi-plate wet clutches to perform its rapid-fire shifting at a much faster rate than a conventional automatic trans. Yet the Sportronic transmission is able to achieve both the smooth shifting of an automatic transaxle, and acceleration and fuel economy of a manual. The smooth Sportronic Transmission has a lot of perks, and a few weaknesses. I like how the trans will shift down for me if I have to stop unexpectedly, and how it preps for upshifts and holds for downshifts. But the trans often takes a split second to think before it will shift from 1st to 2nd gear. Shifting can be done via the steering wheel mounted paddle shifters or a console mounted gear selector. I liked using them both at the same time. I didn’t like how the TC-SST jerked when I take my foot off the accelerator.
Drivers can choose between three automatic drive modes to get the most out of the TC-SST. In Normal mode, the whip gives max efficiency and even performance. In Sport mode, shift points are moved higher up in the rev range, with the actual shifts occurring at a quicker pace. The S-Sport kicks things up a notch, holding each gear closer to the redline.
Surprisingly the 4-cylinder and 6-speed only garner a combined EPA of only 19 mpg (17 mpg city/ 22 mpg highway.) The smaller tank guzzles gas just like the GSR model.
Adding to its dragtastic performance is the MacPherson inverted strut front suspension with forged aluminum control arms, Eibach springs and Bilstein shock absorbers, and rear Multilink type suspension with forged aluminum control arms. Cornering is sharp, and handling agile. The whip could outperform sports cars in city driving with its amazing torque delivery and dynamic handling. Rack-and-pinion steering is tight.
In addition to the sporty transmission the Lancer Evolution MR features standard Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC) that works with its amazing suspension. The Lancer Evo MR also features standard Front Helical Limited Slip Differential, Active Center Differential, and Rear Mechanical Limited Slip Differential.
One of the most sophisticated all-wheel drive systems ever developed for a production car, the Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC) system, working in concert with the Lancer Evolution’s suspension, provides a wraithlike degree of performance and tractability. Drivers chose between traction mode settings – Tarmac, Gravel, and Snow, the latter providing max tractability and performance in poor weather/ road conditions or on low-grip surfaces.
The S-AWC system includes Active Yaw Control, which controls torque distribution to the rear wheels, and an Active Center Differential that manages the power from the multi plate clutch.
The 2015 Lancer Evolution MR has a few standard safety features more than the GSR model, like Traction Control Logic, and Sport ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution. Other safety features include Active Stability Control, a Tire Pressure Monitoring System, and Mitsubishi’s Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution (RISE) technology that disperses energy from the cabin section and the fuel system. As usual the high performance Lancer has Brembo Brakes and 2-piece front rotors and red calipers. The whip also comes standard with Yokohama Advan performance tires.
Modest Interior Ideal for High Speeds and Cruising
The interior of the 2015 Lancer Evolution MR adds a lot of features that make it speed ready and fun to cruise. The cockpit has optional leather seating with a standard leather-wrapped sport steering wheel and shift knob. The steering wheel has controls for audio, cruise control, and the driver’s multi information display. Chrome trims the a/c outlet knobs and inner door handles. The whip also has gloss black door accents, aluminum sport pedals, and gloss black front console box. Rain sensing wipers are also standard, but sometimes it seems like they take a few seconds to think instead of adjusting to rain intensity.
The whip offers 42 inches of front and 36 inches of rear legroom, very spacious for a Lancer. Drivers have a 6-way adjustable seat, and passengers have a 4-way adjustable seat. Rear passengers will like the head and neck support with the reclining seats. But the rear is not ideal for a child’s car seat.
The driver’s dash is set up like a sports car with two gauges and a Multi Information Display in the center that shows trip, range, coolent temp, outside temperature, warnings, drive control modes, the Twin Clutch SST setting, gear, and active stability control info.
The MR’s interior is just a shot less modest than the GSR manual model. But it still has a cool 6 inch touch panel display for audio and navigation. Sirius XM Satellite Radio, Digital HD Radio, and the FUSE Hands-free Link System are all standard. Mitsubishi’s FUSE Hands-free Link System allows users to use Bluetooth, iPod, or USB using voice commands. The air filtration system is great, but rear passengers have no vent.
I like the bangin 710 Watt Rockford-Fosgate 9 speaker sound system with 10 inch subwoofer with Punch Control. I also liked the battery unit in the trunk for easy access.
The Touring Package adds leather seats, heated front seats, sunroof, sound dampening enhancements and scuff plates.
Even with noise canceling technology, the interior needs better insulation. Windows up, I could hear cars even bikes passing loudly when sitting idle. And it’s nearly impossible to be near a loud traffic situation with the driver’s window down and be able to talk comfortably on a cell phone.
But even with a less insulated cabin and rear seating that not ventilated, the 2015 Lancer Evolution MR – fully loaded is a sweet ride. The new MR has a MSRP of $38,995. Fully loaded, the whip costs $41,805, in competition with the $31k Subaru WRX, the Mini Cooper, and a few lame Volkswagen compact sports cars. Though the Lancer Evolution is much better than many of its competitors, it costs $5,000 – $10,000 more.
The 2015 Lancer Evolution is the fun little rocket with sedan character. A final special edition model is for sale. But after 2015, the Evo will be replaced by a sprinty SUV.