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Cars Worth Noting – 2004 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution

2004 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution

I was hoping for some slippery streets when I had the Evolution, and I got my wish. I woke up Sunday morning to a light covering of snow over a thin layer of ice. Whoopee!

This wondrously fast and furious EVO is the road-going version of Mitsu’s World Rally Champ backwoods burner. Not rallying done with a calculator on public roads, mind you, but European rally racing, flat-out through the woods in the snow at night.

Its 2.0L DOHC 16-valve four is turbocharged and intercooled to 271 hp at a tach-twisting 6,500 rpm, and that power is delivered through a 5- speed manual and full-time all-wheel drive. On dry pavement, it rockets from 0-60 in a tick over 5 seconds, about even with a 350-hp Corvette. Its brakes are bright-red Brembos, its tires Yokohama ADVANs on 17 x 8-in. alloy wheels. Just the ride for some serious play on some slickery back roads! Then I remembered that the tires are dry-road racers, not all-season grippers. Hmmm.

Turned out the all-wheel drive boosted our bright yellow EVO to attention-getting speeds nearly as aggressively on snowy/icy blacktop as it did in the dry. But — as I feared and many overconfident SUV drivers learn to their dismay every winter — it contributed little to turning (at normal speeds) and nothing at all to stopping.

Attempting to rein in the EVO on those tires in those conditions was, putting it gently, a challenge. At one point, sliding merrily toward a stop sign in full ABS, it nearly vectored me into a ditch at maybe 5 mph. Releasing the brakes and adding some gas pulled me out just in time.

Driven responsibly, Mitsu’s EVO ultra-performance compact sedan, a direct competitor to Subaru’s rally-winning WRX and Dodge’s Neon SRT-4, is civilized enough for your daily commute and a heckuva hoot for about $30K.

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Tue. July 16th, 2024

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