2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX review

It’s still amazing to see just how far this car has come. Worlds apart from the doughy, tinny, average Lancer from which it takes its basis, the Evo easily justifies its 170% premium over the parent car. And the thing is it’s 170% better - no questions asked. But the real beauty is that it loses none of the practicality. The boot is still huge, the rear seat will actually house humans, and the front seats are just bliss. Plus, the visibility puts just about every other sports car to shame. It’s hard to imagine an easier car to see out of in all directions.

But where it differs dramatically is underneath. To house the all-wheel-drive system, the front and rear quarter panels have been replaced with flared versions. Three differentials supply power to all four wheels, and the SAYC (Super Active Yaw Control) system combines sensors and grip control to allow for mind-bending cornering. And this where the Evo IX is probably the most impressive.

2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX -12008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX -22008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX -3Slewing into a corner, you’ll notice that the steering is super reactive. The slightest movement off centre, and your lateral inclination is apparent. The feel is probably a bit dumbed down, but there’s enough torque-steer and kickback to let you know what’s happening underneath, which along with slight tramlining on poor surfaces, means the feedback you do get is related to your speed anyway.

We’ve found that out of the three settings - Tarmac, Gravel, and Snow - for the Active Centre Differential (ACD), that Gravel is the best for wringing as much speed as possible out of the Evo. Tarmac is well balanced, and Snow tends to understeer too much. But Gravel sends most of the power to the rear, meaning when you think you’ve run out of grip, you haven’t.
Simply hang on for the ride of your life, and remain committed to the corner. An initial understeer tendency is initially offputting, however keep your foot buried, and the torque is shuffled to the rear, where the back is brought around, and the front merely determines the line (while adding more grip). The reward is the car resting on the outside rear tyre, and oversteering through the exit. Fun? You bet. But fast? Yes, it’s that too.

The Evolution IX is one of those cars that you have to experience more than once. The purity of the drive experience isn’t whitewashed by electronic wizardry. You still have to work hard to get a result. But the result you do get is more than your senses can handle at first go. If this is what the IX is like, we can’t wait to drive the Evo X when it is released in a few short weeks.

Engine: 1997cc DOHC four cylinder petrol 16 valve
Power: 206kW @ 6,500rpm
Torque: 355Nm @ 3,500rpm
Top Speed: 250km/h
0-100km/h: 5.5 seconds
0-400m: Not tested
NCAP rating: N/A
Safety: ABS, EBD, Dual Front Air Bags
Turning Circle: 11.8m
Fuel Tank: 55 litres
Fuel Type: 98RON Unleaded
Fuel Consumption: 10.6 litres (Man)
Wheels: 18″ x 8.0″ Alloy
Weight: 1,470kg

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