Dec 21, 2015
Reviewed By Chad Tyson
Price as Tested $41,805
Likes

Sadly, this is the last of the Evolutions. The handling is sublime, and the acceleration is impressive — like the best go-kart ever. Frantic is the most accurate way to describe Sport mode. The steering is hyper-twitchy and reactive but gives excellent feedback and is true to where you point it.

The MR is the only 2015 Evo available without the standard 5-speed, but it’s surprisingly not a drawback here. I pined for a manual in the car the first few times I drove it around, but after discovering the lightning-fast shifts and out-of-its-mind Sport mode, I liked that I didn’t have to let go of the steering wheel at all. The twin-clutch Sportronic transmission (from Slovakia of all places) is rapid-fire with the shifting. Finally, a sub-race-car where paddle shifters are not completely out of place.

Dislikes

The weakest part of the Evo has always been the dismal Lancer base sedan. Only pushing the go-pedal can distract you from the ho-hum interior. You’d have to wilfully ignore the plastics and entry-level appointments in order to justify spending $40k-plus here.

Despite our test car’s Touring Package with “sound dampening enhancement,” (a $2,000 option and the only option on this particular car), the road noise was loud and incessant. Passengers will want ear protection for long drives, and that is not hyperbole.

The Brembo brakes were less dramatic than expected. They were good, but in a car that small with rotors that big, I expect to leave seat-belt impressions across my chest a few times.

Verdict

This is the most fun car I’ve ever driven and didn’t want to keep in my garage. The reality of modern traffic dampens the enthusiasm. Like a dog that constantly wants you to play, the novelty wears off. Nobody else on the road wanted to (or could) play as fast (or as hard) as I did. But that’s its trick — all the Evo wants to do is play.

I’m torn that there was no big wing like older Evos had, as it completes the look, but that just means it’s a little easier to blend in when not hooning about. For those wanting that wing factory installed (and a proper 5-speed), look for the Evolution FE — but look quickly, as just 1,600 of those will come to the U.S.

Who is the target market? Punk rally kids with $42k to spend? No wonder the car is discontinued. The WRX STI is a refined grand tourer by contrast and still launches like a rocket. Still, it’s sad that a relatively attainable, fun car will no longer be available. New-car buyers will need to shift to the WRX STI or Golf R for an AWD rally-esque bit of fun from 2016 on. AWD not a requirement? Ford’s Focus RS deserves some serious consideration.

Fun to Drive
5.0 rating
Fun to Look at
3.5 rating
Overall Experience
4.0 rating
Stats
Horsepower 2.0-liter DOHC, turbocharged I4 rated at 291 @ 6,500 rpm
Torque 300 @ 4,000 rpm
Zero to Sixty Time 4.9
EPA Mileage 17 city/22 highway/19 combined

For more about this car, please visit the manufacturer's website.