With its powerful acceleration and pinpoint reflexes, the 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution remains a fine choice for driving enthusiasts. There are more refined cars in this price range, however.
For 2015, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution loses its Recaro sport seats, but the MR trim comes standard with a few previously optional items, including a Rockford Fosgate audio system, keyless entry and ignition and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. All models add new front cupholders and heated side mirrors with integrated turn signals.
Take the 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution for a spin and you’ll quickly realize it’s aimed at a very specific audience: car enthusiasts. Known in such circles as the Evo, this compact sedan is purpose-built for those who love to drive hard and fast. Even though 2015 is its final year of production, the Evo is still one of the most thrilling sedans on the market. A sophisticated all-wheel-drive system keeps the tires glued to practically any surface, while an amped-up turbocharged four-cylinder engine ensures there’s always plenty of power on tap.
The Lancer Evolution’s transmission options underscore its high-performance pedigree. The GSR model’s conventional five-speed manual gearbox may be one cog short of the norm in this segment, but it compensates with a precise feel that should leave purists satisfied. The MR’s automated six-speed manual, meanwhile, is one of the best of its ilk, providing instantaneous shifts via shift paddles mounted on the steering column. And for moments that call for more than heart-pounding thrills, the Evo offers a generous array of available features, including Rockford Fosgate audio and a touchscreen navigation system.
In other areas, though, there’s no doubt that the Evo demands sacrifices. One side effect of its outstanding handling is a stiff ride on city streets, while an optimal driving position can be hard to dial in thanks to the tilt-only steering wheel. Glancing around the cabin, the dated design and abundant hard-plastic panels are disappointing for a car in this price range, and the outstanding Recaro front seats from previous years are off the menu for 2015. Moreover, the skimpy trunk offers just 7 cubic feet of space, a roadster-like figure that makes the Evo a very impractical choice for cargo-toting.
The Evo’s main rival has long been the 2015 Subaru WRX STI. The WRX has been redesigned for 2015 and is a better car in almost all aspects, but you still can’t get it with an automated manual transmission. For less coin than either, there’s the cheaper 2015 Ford Focus ST. It’s more practical and refined than the Mitsubishi, though it’s considerably less capable (and also manual-only like the STI). For a hatchback with all-wheel-drive performance and a premium interior, you won’t do better than the new 2015 Volkswagen Golf R.
trim levels & features
The 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution is a high-performance compact sedan available in GSR and MR trim levels.
Standard equipment on the GSR includes 18-inch alloy wheels, foglights, heated side mirrors, automatic climate control, cruise control, a leather-wrapped tilt-only steering wheel, Mitsubishi’s Fuse electronics interface with voice controls, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a 6.1-inch touchscreen display and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, HD radio, an auxiliary audio jack, an iPod/USB audio interface and satellite radio.
The MR adds lighter-weight BBS forged alloy wheels, two-piece front brake rotors, upgraded suspension dampers and springs, xenon headlights, automatic windshield wipers, different exterior trim, keyless entry and ignition, a nine-speaker Rockford Fosgate sound system, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and an upgraded center console.
The GSR is eligible for a Sight and Sound package, which adds the MR’s xenon headlights, keyless entry and ignition and Rockford Fosgate sound system. Also available for the GSR is the Premium package, which includes the contents of the Sight and Sound package and adds a sunroof, leather upholstery, heated front seats and added sound insulation. An Exterior package for the GSR adds front and side airdams, rear corner extensions, brake air guides and a spoiler extension.
Available on the MR is a Touring package that includes the sunroof, leather upholstery, heated front seats and added sound insulation.
Optional on both trims are a navigation system with a 7-inch touchscreen interface and rear parking sensors.
performance & mpg
Every 2015 Lancer Evolution is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that pumps out 291 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque. The GSR comes only with a five-speed manual transmission, while the MR features Mitsubishi’s excellent six-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission with shift paddles on the steering column. Power is sent to all four wheels through an advanced all-wheel-drive system.
Acceleration in either Evo is impressive. In Edmunds performance testing, a GSR required only 4.4 seconds to sprint from zero to 60, while the MR did it in 5 seconds flat.
Standard safety features for the 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution include antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and a driver knee airbag. Rear parking sensors are optional.
In Edmunds brake testing, a Lancer Evolution came to a stop from 60 mph in 113 feet, a good but not great showing for a high-performance car.
In government crash testing, the regular Lancer, on which the Evolution is based, received four out of five stars overall, with four stars for total frontal-impact safety and four stars for total side-impact safety. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the Lancer its top score of “Good” in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength crash tests, while deeming it “Acceptable” (second-best of four scores) in the small-overlap frontal-offset crash test. The Lancer’s seat and head restraint design was rated “Good” for whiplash protection in rear impacts.
The Evo’s interior is tame compared with its aggressive exterior styling. Aluminum pedals, fancier gauges and a different steering wheel are the only significant items differentiating the hottest Lancer from its humble brethren. That list used to include sublime Recaro sport seats, but they’re not offered for the Evo’s final year. If there’s a silver lining here, it’s that the standard driver seat is now height-adjustable, though the steering wheel still doesn’t telescope, so an ideal driving position will remain elusive for some.
Most of the interior materials are the same as those on the regular Lancer, which is to say they’re below average for an economy car and downright disappointing for a vehicle in this price range. Soft-touch door panels are at least standard on the Evo, whereas they’re optional on the Lancer. On the plus side, most controls are within easy reach and simple to operate, and the standard Fuse voice controls can make certain audio and navigation functions a hands-free affair.
Unlike the regular Lancer, the Evo’s rear seats don’t fold down, and its battery and washer fluid reservoir have been relocated to the trunk for better weight distribution. Total trunk space is just 7 cubic feet as a result, which is useless for any significant cargo needs. The Rockford Fosgate stereo’s massive trunk-mounted subwoofer further reduces capacity.
The 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution is a sports car in compact-sedan clothing. The advanced all-wheel-drive system helps gives the Evo tenacious traction in a variety of conditions. Enthusiast drivers will also appreciate the Evo’s responsive steering. As for the turbocharged engine, it’s an inspiring mill that spins quickly up to redline whenever you mat the gas pedal.
For daily commutes, the Evo is less inspiring, mostly because the ride is rather stiff. That goes for both trim levels, though the MR’s upgraded suspension gives it a touch more ride compliance. The MR-only automated transmission is the clear choice for drivers with a traffic-dense commute, and its super quick shifts are a delight. Regardless of which version you choose, you’ll have an immensely fun car, with all-around performance that’s tough to beat for the pr