Minggu, 08 Juni 2008



2009 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT

By Robert Farago

It's been a while since I've driven a death car. My mind casts back to tail-happy 911's, centrifugal Corvettes, terrifying TVR's and flaming Ferraris. These days, very few car companies build cars that seduce you into serious speed, then blow up, fall apart, flip over and/or throw you into a solid object. I reckon I've survived enough motorized mayhem to know a death machine when I Ford GT one. So I was a little surprised when I turned at a four-way intersection, squeezed the gas and nearly drove the new Mitsubishi Eclipse GT into a parked car.

Torque steer. It's that squirrelly squirming sensation that tells you that a front-wheel-drive car's driven wheels are desperately scrabbling for grip. The Mitsubishi Eclipse GT is a torque steer poster child. Feed the Eclipse's 263hp engine some major revs and mid-course corrections are instantly out of the question– and that's WITH traction control. All you can do is saw away at the steering wheel, back off the gas and wait for the tires to grab enough tarmac to return you to normal programming.

The Eclipse's tendency to lose traction at the front end is not quite as bad as hydroplaning, but only because it doesn't last as long. And it's true: you can avoid the problem by babying the gas pedal. But here's the problem: an enthusiast can no more resist giving the Eclipse GT's go pedal a proper pasting than they can avoid thumbing through sleazy car mags at a drug store.

Equipped with 'Mitsubishi Innovative Variable timing and lift Electronic Control' (MIVEC), the Eclipse's 3.8-liter V6 powerplant pours on the power from the basement to the penthouse. At the same time, the GT's coffee-can exhaust emits a mid-range zizz that hardens into a determined wail as you enter MIVEC-ian hyperspace. The Eclipse GT's six has so much sonic character that you blip the throttle for the Hell of it, lower the windows before entering tunnels and hold onto gear changes just because you can.

You see my problem? The Eclipse's engine constantly begs for a bloody good thrashing. It gets worse. Floor the free-revving GT in second gear, or third. Once again, the steering wheel torques back. At that point, you're going at least 50mph– which is more than fast enough to make the sudden loss of directional stability a life-threatening experience. If you happen to be cornering at the time, it's worse squared. The Eclipse GT has both an incurable understeer addiction AND a weight problem. When this sucker starts a nose-first slide towards the scenery, well, it's gonna be a while before helm control is yours for the taking. Did I mention that the GT feels a bit skittish at highway speeds?

In short, the Mitsubishi Eclipse GT is the kind of car Prince Charles would have bought his ex-wife if she'd survived her Parisian jaunt that fateful August morning.

Mind you, the Eclipse would have been a far more a stylish way to go than Dodi's S-Class sedan. Mitsubishi's swoopy coupe is a glorious gallimaufry of design cues: a hint of Nissan 350Z, a touch of Lexus SC430, a dash of Audi TT, a reminiscence of Pontiac Grand Am. Put it all together and what have you got? God knows, but it ain't dull. The Eclipse GT's furiously funky shape is adorned with wikkid details, from a windshield so severely raked it could almost double as a coffee table, to a drilled aluminum gas cap (Audi again). Clock that wasp waist, bodacious butt, blistered arches and jewel-effect lenses. These Mitsubishi guys are sick.

The Eclipse's interior is also a stylish step up from generic Japanese. Little details entrance: baseball glove stitching on the shift knob, body-hugging racing seats, sculpted metal door pulls. The GT's [optional] nine-speaker, 650-watt Rockford Fosgate stereo– complete with trunk-mounted 10' subwoofer– tells you all you need to know about Mitsubishi's ability to tune in to the youth market. Now, will someone please tell carmakers that a digital display needn't look a digital watch?

And while you're at it, who's going to convince Mitsubishi to give the Eclipse GT all-wheel-drive? The company steadfastly maintains that the market doesn't want it. They report that just 3% of consumers who bought the last gen Eclipse signed-up for power to all four corners. And? Need we raise the thorny issue of mortality rates, lawsuits and the like? Or should we stick with the carrot, and point out that the GT is only a viscous coupling away from greatness?

I'm serious. If Mitsubishi could tame the Eclipse's torque steer, the car's fresh design, cracking engine, silken six speed gearbox, robust chassis, superb brakes and entirely reasonable sticker price would make it one of the best sports coupes of our time. As it is, the Eclipse scares me to death.


By Andrew Comrie-Picard

There’s an industrial road outside Chicago that has more Mitsubishi Lancer Evolutions per square mile than anywhere but the factory in Mizushima, Japan. There’s the drag race shop with several 600+hp, carbon- paneled versions vying for space. There’s the tuner shop where literally dozens of Evos flock to dyno. And there’s the rally shop that is widely considered the finest American skunkworks for this type of car. And as I stand in that shop, my own flame-spitting Evo IV rally car sitting on the hoist behind me, I stare at a brand-new charcoal Evo IX MR – the even-higher-performance-spec version – that has only 70 miles on it. And the perfect impression of a tree trunk, molded into the passenger’s side.

The sight is sobering. I mean, I’ve been driving my own Evo on dirt and snow rally roads for years, at speeds regularly over 120mph, and I’ve never hit a tree like this poor schmuck did. But then I’ve been rallying for a long time and have enough stupid crashes on my permanent record to know better than continue down that path (and over the forest and into the tree). Fortunately, there’s another near-new Evo IX MR sitting outside, and the owner foolishly throws me the keys.

I’m not a boy racer. I’m not even a boy. But boy, the IX MR is quite a car. It’s not particularly elegant; the best you could say is that the fender flares, sharp nose, deep chin, and hard-edged wing make it handsome and sinewy. The interior is downright plain for a $35k sports sedan (OK – the Recaro seats are awesome). Unmodified, it actually sits a little too high on its wheels. Unless you know what it is, you’d probably think this bewinged extrovert is like your little brother: high on bluster but slow on the delivery.

But this is your little brother who becomes the school track star and steals your girlfriend. Specs never tell the whole story, but 286hp, AWD with an active center differential, huge Brembo brakes, and all-aluminum suspension arms make for a good opening paragraph. The story continues when you fire up the 2.0L intercooled turbo engine – in the IX for the first time with variable valve timing – and it settles into a contented purr. It’s not until you really get into the throttle that the thing takes off like a scalded cat, albeit a scalded cat with its claws dug about two feet into the pavement.

I can tell you with some authority that this is one of the five best handling cars available in North America. Certainly it is one of two for less than $35k, and it has four doors and a trunk to boot. It’s better than the Subaru WRX STi – tighter, better balanced, transitions faster, feels lighter. The Subaru actually has a better drive layout, with the engine mass lower and the transmission further back, but by sheer bloody-minded suspension engineering the Evo wins hands down.

Yes, the ride is harsh and the appointments spare. But the turn-in is astonishing – sneeze and you’ll change three lanes – and once you’re sliding, you can drift the car in fourth gear, tires smoking, the world coming at you through the side window, correcting with your fingertips. Wanna feel like a superhero? This is your fastest ticket.

Except physics is a hard mistress, and trees are hard objects. Even the Evo can’t give you more run-out room when you simply went in too fast. In fact, it sort of cheats you: it allows you to go so close to the edge – even over the edge – then gather it all up again, time after time. Except that last time when nothing – not your skill, not your pleas to the heavens, and not even the Evo – can save you from being an idiot.

Anyway, the IX MR is that kind of car: a machine that goes so bloody quick so bloody easily that thoughts of death are necessary to prevent its occurrence. And no wonder: the IX MR is an evolution of an earlier Lancer and, before that, the Galant VR4 of the early 1990s. The Evo is, essentially, a Japanese Porsche 911, constantly honed with one thing in mind: dominant performance for a given drive layout. It’s amazing that a company still struggling to find its place in the North American market can produce a single model that is so focused, desirable and damn near perfect that they hardly need to market it.

And so, after having driven perhaps a dozen Evos in anger over the last few years, there’s a new Evo IX RS – the even-lighter-weight version – sitting in my shop, taunting me, about to be built into my next rally car. So much for trying not to be an idiot.


By Sajeev Mehta

This website has consistently and persistently lambasted The Big 2.5 for depending on fleet sales to keep the factories churning. As reported here and elsewhere, Detroit has finally responded to industry criticism that cranking-out sub-par transportation for fleet consumption drags down vehicle quality, resale value and image. They’ve sworn off rental car crack. Gradually, eventually, they’ll leave Alamo, Hertz, Avis, etc. behind and take their chances on the dealer’s lot. All of which makes room for… the Mitsubishi Galant!

The ninth gen Galant gets some new threads. The proportions aren’t bad, and its strong, chiseled shoulders meld into perfectly proportioned, smoked Altezza taillights. (Who knew that Malibu and sake mixed?) From the side, the Galant’s soaring beltline conforms to The Law of Unintended Aesthetic Consequences; the rear doors look like Lulu the Fat Lady’s thighs. Up front, the aesthetically challenged hood blister meets up with a finned grille, complete with shiny-happy chrome smile underneath. All in all, the Galant is handsome enough– to wear the rental car cloak of invisibility.

As befitting this erstwhile honor, the Galant's interior is as about as cool as drinking milk from a sports bottle. From its brittle switchgear to its rotary knobs soaked in molasses to its rubbery steering wheel, Mitsubishi's sedan-starlet does the near-impossible: falls to match GM's mediocre advancements in interior excellence. While the Mitsu's panel gaps are fingernail thin and the aluminum-effect trim livens-up the dour dollops of flat black, the cabin’s mix of jutting planes, bloated curves and cheap plastics make the Galant ready for the rental car return row, like, now.

Grab your luggage and another problem creeps up; the Galant's strut assists make closing the decklid a challenge for one hand, and unnecessary effort for two. The resonating "thonk" following said action is about as reassuring as a stand up comic moonlighting as a bereavement counselor. The Galant's lack of fold down rear seating is another solid miss.

That said, the rear accommodations are more than slightly salubrious. The fabrics are a pleasing blend of luxury, style and durability, wrapping the finest set of foam cushioning this side of an Olds 88 Royale Brougham. Who needs a folding park bench when the alternative is so much better for the back and the booty? The couch isn't just the Galant's best attribute; it’s class-leading mother-in-law kvetch protection.

The Galant’s standard 140-watt, six speaker, MP3-ready sound system also deserves special mention. Actually that's a lie. By itself, the beatbox is nothing special. Factor in its ability to overpower the Galant's 2.4-liter buzz box under the hood and it becomes an absolute lifesaver. The MIVEC-tuned four-pot motor makes a respectable 160hp @ 5500 revs, but clock the tachometer above 3500rpm and this mill is ready to rattle itself to pieces. Runs to redline are accompanied by an intake-wheez so strong you can feel the Galant begging for your right foot for mercy.

The Galant’s “Sportronic” automatic serves-up a quartet of cogs with wide-ass gear ratios; a holdover from a time when it was OK to keep a rock as a pet (don’t ask). The Galant's powertrain– and I use that term in its full ironic sense– is no match for the smooth operators available in baseline Camrys and Accords. Even worse, with 3439 pounds of sedan to tote from the airport to the meeting/Disneyworld and back, the Galant's wounded snail pace (zero to 60 in 8.9 very loud seconds) should come as no surprise– at least until you try to merge on the highway.

Curiously, the entry level Galant doesn’t offer ABS braking as standard; you have to upgrade to the ES or “Extra Stuff” model (I swear I’m not making that up) to get Electronic Brakeforce Distribution. At least the Galant has enough airbags to seduce the Stay Puft Man and a front and side five-star government safety rating.

Which is just as well. Although the Galant is about as close to being a rocket ship as a block of cement, it can, eventually, reach normal automotive speeds. Once there, drivers will discover that the Galant's steering, shifting and throttle response were originally extras in The Dead Hate the Living.

The harder you push the Galant, the dumber you feel for bothering. Before unloading SUV-levels of understeer, the Galant pitches under cornering load and dives prodigiously in panic stops. Thrifty drivers on a Budget will get no kicks remembering the Alamo on a twisty on ramp or, more likely, circling for a parking space in a hotel parking lot. At least the four corner disc brakes keep the "fun" in check without hesitation or complaint.

Years ago, the market decided Mitsubishi's bread-and-butter sedan couldn’t hold a spent glow stick to the Camcordima. The market is still right; the Galant deserves its place in rental car infamy. As you will someday learn.


By Sajeev Mehta

CUV’s are nothing more than oversized station wagons on stilts. If you think about it– and not many American motorists have– CUV’s don’t work like a truck OR handle like a car. I wouldn't say they’re the worst of both worlds, but others have. In fact, the modern CUV may just be a marketing-driven gimmick designed to take one last shot at emigrating gas guzzlers before they get down from their perch and do something really sensible, like buy a car. No wonder Mitsubishi’s website says the Outlander doesn’t like labels any more than I do.

“Stylish” certainly fits. The Outlander's sheetmetal is sports sedan crisp with just enough static lines and ground clearance to assure the macho-minded that “Outlander” isn't the ancient Scottish term for “mall rat.” The CUV’s front end translates the usual SUV design cues into a host of smooth textures, understated lighting pods and clean surface transitions. The rear follows suit with ample glass, logical lines and an integral diffuser in its snazzy rear valence. It’s all very chi-chi.

Thankfully, the Triple-Diamond Boys left the SUV genre’s hose-it-down heritage outside the doors. The Outlander offers a symphony of touchy-feely polymers, panel gap precision and Audi-esque minimalism. Clock the way the Outlander’s beat box integrates into the dashboard’s horizontal sweep. Seamless. Even the nasty stuff– like the imitation aluminum trim surrounding the motorcycle-chic gauge cluster– looks cool.

Tick the right boxes and the Outlander’s got the right box of tricks. The optional 650-watt Rockford Fosgate stereo (named after the Firebird Esprit-driving TV detective) has more than enough power to make your dental fillings shake and shiver. It’s a Sirius piece of kit. The sat nav system can store 1200 songs, keep track of your Bluetooth and guide you to your dentist. And you can order a drop-down DVD system to keep the kids amused.

Clearly, Mitsubishi decided to go down the high content route for their latest foray into Crossover County. Even the base Outlander’s luxurious velour-trimmed body huggers are a welcome surprise at this price point, providing all-over comfort for humans both large and small. While the second row slides forward, there’s only one failsafe way to avoid Amnesty International’s condemnation of the Outlander’s “compact jump seats”: opt for the cheaper two row model.

The Outlander’s trick flap-fold tailgate is its party piece. The gate’s flush-fitting lower half unfolds from the bumper for slide and schlep Home Despots and/or doubles as a picnic table for pee-wee football tailgaters. On paper, the Outlander has a class average cargo hole. In real life, the model’s chunky-hunky D-pillar makes it possible to fit big ass square pegs into a moderately sized square hole.

More proof of the Outlander’s value-oriented proposition lies underhood. The MIVEC-tuned 3.0-liter V6 puts out a respectable 220hp and 204 lb-feet of twist (albeit high atop its powerband). Hooked-up to a standard six-speed autobox, there’s plenty of poke and reasonable fuel efficiency for city commuting (20mpg) and highway cruising (27mpg).

Hang on. Peep the strut tower brace under the hood and [optional] magnesium shift paddles. Could the Outlander’s Lancer underpinnings and available full-time four-wheel drive indicate that we’ve rocked-up in a family-friendly EVO in crossover guise?

Nope. The Outlander’s powerplant has less low-end grunt than your grandmother's vintage Osterizer, while the steering is completely vague about the whole torque steer issue. Push it hard into a bend and the softly sprung dynamics serve up a major slathering of understeer on a supersized body roll. The 3500lb Outlander is tuned for touring duty and nothing more.

Much like the omnipresent road noise at highway speeds, the Outlander’s dynamic bits get old in a hurry. While Mitsubishi touts "rally inspired control and fun unheard of in a family vehicle," the rally involved must have been political and the fun in question has a lot more to do with scaring kids than thrilling adults. Any off-roading more ambitious than an unplowed driveway is equally off limits.

The Mitsubishi's ride strikes an ideal balance between road feel and comfort. As long as you drive responsibly, the chassis will iron out irregularities and crush potholes. Motorsport heritage aside, it’s obvious Mitsubishi put a strut brace under the hood to avoid family fatigue during your next road trip.

In fact, the Outlander is a modern day station wagon, with all the stylistic charms, family friendly gadgets and timeless comfort that implies (“Mommy! He hit me!”). Its dash of panache, impressive standard features, trick tailgate and under 25 large asking price make the Outlander an attractive value proposition. That is, after you buy into the need for a tall station wagon.


By Justin Berkowitz

In “The Blue-Eyed Salaryman,” American author Niall Murtagh charts his fourteen-year career inside Mitsubishi Japan. When Murtagh gets transferred to Osaka, he concludes that the Tokyo part of the company focuses on large visionary research projects, while Osaka demands practical applications. And there you have it: the dichotomy that accounts for Mitsubishi’s progress in the automotive arena. You have visionary products like the Evo with very little practical purpose, and dull products like the Outlander with very little vision. So where does the new Lancer fit?

Never mind the subtext, check out those lines! Designing a good-looking compact car ain’t easy nowadays. You’ve got to maximize interior space, accommodate an expanding complement of airbags and facilitate fuel efficiency (with aerodynamics that force sheetmetal shapes down the slippery slope towards suppository chic). Things can go horribly wrong; reference the Honda Civic sedan. Or the previous Lancer, which was as sexy as dental floss. This one the Mitsubishi design team nailed.

The Lancer’s proportions and details are spot on. The high beltline adds to the impression of size from the outside, yet allows occupants to feel surrounded and safe. The Lancer’s new front fascia copies Audi’s current pig snout and makes it work, flanking the orifice with a set of angry eyes headlights and bisecting the otherwise gaping maw with a suitably wide bumper. Mitsu ripped off the tail lamp design from the Alfa 156– a gorgeous machine that Americans never got the chance to ignore.

The new Lancer is not a stunning design per se– it’s more handsome than drop-dead gorgeous. But it is a stunning development for Mitsubishi. The Lancer is to Mitsubishi what the Altima was to Nissan five years ago: a radical reskin that instantly elevates a plain-Jane model from zero to hero. Unfortunately, the parallel continues inside.

Thanks to Mitsu’s PR paparazzi, the Lancer’s cabin looks decidedly avant-garde. The flacks focused on the steering wheel, perfect in both diameter and thickness (though littered with stereo buttons and Bluetooth phone controls). They highlighted the Lancer’s sport bike-inspired gauges. They flagged its slick stereo, neatly integrated into the dash with precise, Teutonic buttonology.

Off camera, the new Lancer’s interior does the time-warp again. It’s a generic Japanese mishmash fabricated with some of the worst automotive plastics inflicted on U.S. consumers since A Flock of Seagulls first crapped on Top 40 radio, with bulbous switches that feel like they were attached with thumb tacks. The seats are nicely supportive, but why Mitsu decided to support the mouse fur industry by covering the Lancer's chairs and roof with rodent pelts is both an aesthetic and ethical conundrum.

Driving the base model Lancer is an eye-opening experience, especially when you realize that (1) the Evo X will obviously be celestial and (2) THIS is what they started with?

The Lancer is just an awful little car to pilot, for sportster and commuter alike. In the pursuit of a compliant ride, Mitsu has fitted the base car with a suspension made out of Twinkies. Potholes send the car bucking in a fit of confusion. And then there’s body roll. Lots and lots of body roll. Quick turns? Out of the question. (Fast corners make you their bitch.) Within minutes of assuming command, my need for speed did recede. I gave up trying to do anything more than get from Point A to Point B in the space of a single day.

Yes, I know: the Lancer’s an economy car. But it could be the only car sold in America that can make an entry level Toyota Corolla or Hyundai Elantra seem like a sports sedan. And the Lancer only achieves 21/29 mpg. How frugal is that?

The Lancer’s all-new 2.0-liter engine is rated at 152 horses (at an unattainable 6000 rpm). I swear a quarter have bolted for greener pastures. A wide open throttle simply kicks the CVT's droning tone up a notch. This isn’t about being a boy-racer. It’s about needing a sign to apologize to drivers while attempting merges.

What really sucks the life out of the Lancer (and sucks in general): its continuously variable transmission. Unless you opt for the top-o-the-line GTS with fake shift points, the CVT is forever locked into penalty mode. It's no fun at all.

The new Lancer is a research project gone horribly wrong. On paper, it’s a superb vehicle: 150 horsepower, loads of safety features (seven airbags, including the now popular driver's knee airbag), gadget options galore and racy good looks. But it’s all show and no go.

With Mitsubishi’s American operations just climbing out of sea of red ink, it’s too bad the company forgot to benchmark the competitions' driving dynamics. The forthcoming take-no-prisoners Evo version will no doubt sort that out, but after sampling the base Lancer, I highly doubt Mitsubishi’s ability to rescue its American ambitions from the dustbin of history.


BMW 135i and Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X comparison

By Michael Karesh

Anyone who’s driven one of the first nine iterations of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution (a.k.a. Evo) approaches the tenth fully expecting chest-flattening acceleration and spleen-rupturing cornering. Obviously, the Evo X’s engine and chassis are bound (and determined) to continue the model’s budget supercar-killer tradition. But there’s another less welcome Evo tradition: denture destroying suspension and a Gladware interior. Will the Evo X’s ride quality and interior materials once again conspire to kill the love for all but the masochists among us?

The Evo’s new X-terior has moved Mitsubishi’s compact sedan from the bargain basement to the penthouse suite. The X’s profile now strongly resembles the Acura TSX and Volvo S40. The new Evo’s snout sports a huge black inverted trapezoid-grille, fender vents, a rear wing and body kit. Thanks to the car’s more svelte shape, the macho mods don’t scream “teenage toy.” Of course, it helps that Audi has made the world safe for gargantuan grilles, and that overpriced body kits are now common on overpriced German machinery.

The old Evo’s interior was cheaper than a one-star Romanian hotel. The new Lancer’s interior is a bit more upmarket, but it’s still a third-rate romance, low rent [Buick] rendezvous. Mitsubishi would have been well-advised to replicate the Alcantara interior of the Prototype X concept. One nit an upholstery shop can’t fix: the semi-swoopy exterior yields a windshield base that stretches out like an African Savanna; it’s a bit alienating for a “driver’s car.” Well-bolstered Recaro seats compensate.

Like just about every car (and person) in recent years, the new Evo’s gained some weight. Yet unlike Subaru, Mitsubishi refused to forsake the World Rally Championship’s 2.0-liter rule in their rally car production variant. Two liters of displacement for a 3500lbs. car? That’s like playing croquet with a toothbrush, isn’t it?

Nope. The Evo’s four-pot may not deliver the Subaru STI’s seamless shove, but once the revs crest 4000 rpm, the Mitsu’s mini-mill pulls like an amphetamine-crazed tractor. We’re torquing 300 ft.-lbs. of twist. And the X’s engine revs so freely that getting into the pleasure zone is not a problem. And then, suddenly, 291 horsepower at 6500 rpm.

Thanks to premium-powered variable valve timing and turbo technology, boost lag is also not an issue– provided you keep the revs up. Otherwise, it’s a second of “what the?” followed by “Holy CRAP!” Missing–and missed: a sixth ratio in the GSR’s manual transmission. The Evo’s engine spins at nearly 3000 rpm at 60mph. An extra cog certainly would have helped boost the mpgs from a never-caned 16/22, in case anyone’s wondering.

The Evo’s strangely-hyphenated, driver-adjustable Super All Wheel-Control deploys a pair of trick, electronically-controlled differentials. Minus the jargon-laden physics lessons and references to the anti-HAL handling nanny (I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid you can’t not do that), the nose-heavy compact feels balanced, agile, controllable, poised, planted, secure, balletic and ballistic.

Like any great driver’s car, the Evo X makes you a better driver than you are without taking you out of the equation (in every sense of the phrase). Point the Evo where you want it to go, and it goes there confidently, smoothly and quickly. The Evo X’s steering isn’t as quick and sharp as before, but compared to just about any other sedan you can buy— including (especially?) BMW’s new M3— it offers a highly responsive, entirely intimate helm.

There’s only one flaw: a tug at the wheel when digging into the throttle on turn exits. Never mind. Whether going, turning, and stopping, the new Evo has an eager, playful nature that’s all-too-uncommon in the post-Lexus age. Mitsubishi’s supercar remains a blast to drive, even in typical suburban driving. At the same time, it feels much more polished and controllable than before. You don’t have to push it hard to enjoy it. And if you do push it hard, you’ll enjoy it even more.

With the old Evo, potential buyers who could see past the crap interior were put off by its rock-hard ride. Here, as elsewhere, the new Evo ups its game without losing its character. No doubt the new lightweight 18” wheels and improved rubber– plenty pricey and not anywhere near immortal asymmetrical Yokohama ADVANS– have helped matters. The Evo’s no more a Lexus than you are, but it’s not a go-kart, either. Some BMWs are worse (128i anyone?).

The new Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X has eliminated the previous car’s faults without killing the joy. The punishment is gone; the fun remains. Unfortunately, there is a new and major downside: price. The Evo’s hardware is a steal for $35,600. That’s premium compact territory– without a premium compact interior or a premium compact brand. Those who can’t see themselves spending thirty-five large for a mainstream extreme machine, or simply don’t have a BMW-sized budget, might be happier in the upcoming Lancer Ralliart. Or not.