Review of: 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 4dr Sdn GSR Final Edition
2015 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Final Edition: The last Evolution
By G. R. Whale
Aug. 5, 2016
After a few teases and preceding a probably electrified future, this marks the end of Evolution X: the Final Edition. Derived from a Premium GSR-spec car, the Final carries MR-grade mechanicals except the twin-clutch gearbox, is the only Evo with a power bump, and comes with a four-digit number plate for the 350 units unique to Canada.
Pros & Cons
- + Acceleration
- + Sharp handling
- + Proper sports car seats
- - Road noise
- - Engine noise
- - Trunk space
A dark chrome grille border and red trunk badge distinguish the FE; the remainder is standard functional Evolution in a profile still recognizable as when it arrived almost ten years ago.
Many body panels, including the ducted hood and front fenders, are aluminum, but the moonroof means a steel roof panel. Outer layers don’t completely hide the goodies that make an Evo—aluminum-intensive suspension, yellow Bilstein struts, red Brembo brakes, substantial intercooler—and absolutely nothing hides that massive wing.
Apart from Recaro sport seats, red stitching and a couple of buttons, this is a basic Lancer sedan cabin. It has decent room for four and good view everywhere but aft, though a telescoping wheel would help taller driver comfort. Basic controls are properly placed—big shoes limited my heel-and-toe ability, and since there’s hardware behind the non-folding seat, trunk space is less than 200 litres.
By modern definition, this is Bluetooth with streaming audio, voice control and a USB port. I paired my phone but never used it—there was always something better to do.
Mechanical gadgetry includes torque-vectoring all-wheel drive (check out hydraulic lines in the back), active yaw control, stability defeat you can really feel and an engine that prefers a steady diet of 93-octane fuel and synthetic oil.
FE has competition car written all over it: Nervous idle, cold-blooded gearbox, gear whine, sneezing turbo, exhaust note that belies its 2.0-litre capacity, and even a sticker prominent on the door noting these tires wear faster than normal and winter tires are required. And the A/C works great.
Power peaks are 303 hp a 6,500 and 305 lb-ft of twist at 4,000 revs, so off-idle acceleration is underwhelming. Around 2,500, it awakens and builds power progressively, full steam from 4,000 to near the 7,000-rpm limit always accessible because of short gearing. In fifth, it shows about 3,000 revs at 100 km/h so you needn’t downshift for any speed increase, and one can debate 60 mph/100 km/h sprint times but, despite 1,630 kg to move, Evo is quicker than figures suggest because two shifts are required where many cars need just one. From about 15 km/h onward it’s always punchy; from rest if you lean on the clutch.
That clutch has good feel and bite, not so heavy it wore me down in traffic, and the shifter selects gears positively. All-wheel drive and limited-slip differentials excel at getting power to the ground, one reason it’s best to have braking done before the corner and feeding on boost by the apex. And even used hard down a 12 per cent grade, the brake pedal was firm, easy to modulate and nosedive was minimal.
Suspension tune is sportingly firm and more forgiving and compliant than you might expect, grip levels are impressive, and the entire package quite well balanced. However, too much entry speed brings understeer much easier than too much throttle exit goes to oversteer thanks to the drive system. Note that with the Final Edition out in summer I didn’t get to use snow mode in snow, but memory suggests it’s as much fun and warmer than any snowmobile. Light steering adds effort with lateral and throttle loads and at 2-1/4 turns lock-to-lock it’s fairly quick too.
Driven as intended, the 14.0 l/100km urban rating is optimistic, yet I observed closer to 9.0 on the highway and averaged 12.5. Until rallying turns into fuel-economy runs like IndyCar or NASCAR, don’t buy this for NRC ratings, but do pay attention as the 55-litre tank can be emptied quickly… you might still be smiling when it runs out.
Roughly a $2,500 premium over a similarly fitted GSR without the $208/hp power boost or unique cosmetics, and $2,500 less than the twin-clutch MR, the $49,500 FE’s value comes from exclusivity. Gen X Evolutions had a decent run so just 350 of these will add to its appeal, as will the fact that the south-of-the-border FE is not the same package, more just the hard-core bits.
Lancer Evolution has been eclipsed by some newer, more evolved competitors, yet it remains an immensely capable, fun-to-drive sedan you can rally or autocross on the weekends and run the kindergarten grand prix during the week, all year round. Do get a set of winter tires, and be warned diamond white paint blends with snowbanks as well as green Minis did with hedgerows.