Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X

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Mitsubishi’s top performance sedan receives a number of important updates for 2006. Now referred to as the Lancer Evolution IX, the car’s biggest change is the addition of variable valve timing to its turbocharged engine. This feature bumps power up to 286 horsepower and 289 lb.-ft. of torque and is said to improve drivability. Other changes for the 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX include an improved five-speed manual transmission, updated front-end styling, smoked headlight and taillight bezels, restyled Enkei wheels, and improvements to the interior trim and rear seating.mitsubishi_lanser_mr-5-copy.jpg

One of those first U.S.-spec Evos spent a year in our fleet, and it proved one of the most-enjoyed long termers we’ve ever thrashed, er, tested. Inasmuch as the current MR Edition has improved the CT9A platform as far as it will go, and to be well poised for the inevitable comparison between it and the upcoming, all-new Evolution X, Mitsubishi served up a purposeful-looking Tarmac Black Pearl MR for another year’s tour of duty.

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All Evos get a revised version of the 2.0-liter turbocharged and intercooled four, designated 4G63, which now has MIVEC variable valve timing and cranks out 286 horsepower. Standard and RS versions continue with a five-speed manual, but the MR gets a close ratio six-speed stick. The all-wheel drive, steering, Brembo brakes, suspension architecture, and tires are the same across the lineup, except that the MR wears great-looking BBS forged alloys, Bilstein shocks, and HID headlamps.

Our new toy based at $35,814, and it’s so well equipped at that, you’d be quite happy with a zero options example. We added a few goodies to the list, such as the appearance package (front air-dam extension, diamond-black finished wheels, red interior-accent stitching) at $500; the MR Special Equipment package, which at $800 includes the aluminum/carbon-fiber handbrake grip, aluminum shift knob, color-keyed vortex generators on the roof, wheel looks, and a nifty boost gauge kit; and the “zero lift” aero kit, composed of a rear-spoiler extension, underbody air dam, and front-brake air guides, for another $310. This brought the total to $37,424, about eight grand more than the base price of that first Evo VIII of 2003, but a car that’s been substantially upgraded and developed since then.

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Mitsubishi has a specific break-in regimen for the first 1000 miles, and our car cleared that without a hitch. It’s now been to Vegas and back and will certainly get the call for more road trips. The overall impression is that it’s a more polished piece than the original. The name-brand shocks offer a smoother ride with no apparent degradation of handling, and the six-speed’s taller high gear makes the Evo a less buzzy Interstate cruiser. And its performance still rocks our world.

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2.0L I4, 16 valve, 286 hp @ 6500 rpm

* 6 speed manual transmission
* 18 mpg city / 24 mpg hwy
* Green Rating: 35

Scribbled on January 20th 2008 in Mitsubishi, Pictures
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