PHOENIX — Mitsubishi executives want BMW and Audi owners to take notice of the redesigned Lancer Evolution that debuts in February. They also would like a few more female shoppers to check it out.
The Evo has been a darling of rally fans, mostly men. But the latest version of the high-performance sedan is more refined. It's the first Mitsubishi with an automated manual transmission. The company hopes it will appeal not only to racing fans but also to those who favor a luxury sedan ride.
The basics: The Evo comes in two trim lines: the base GSR and the MR. The entry-level RS on the 2006 model has been eliminated. Mitsubishi did not offer an Evo for the 2007 model year.
Both 2008 trim lines have a new 2.0-liter engine that makes 291 hp. The 2006 put out 286 hp.
The big news is the transmission. The GSR has a five-speed manual, but the MR gets Mitsubishi's first automated manual transmission. It has six speeds, steering wheel shifter paddles and a console shifter.
The redesigned car has a longer wheelbase and wider track and has 18-inch wheels. The previous model had 17-inch wheels.
Standard equipment includes a 140-watt audio system with six speakers and MP3 capability, power door locks and windows, and a rear spoiler.
The 2008 model has seven airbags, compared with two for the 2006. Active yaw control also is new. The system transmits torque from left to right on the rear axle.
A 650-watt stereo system and Sirius satellite radio are available for both trim lines. Unique to the MR is an optional navigation system with carpool lane routing.
Notable features: The face has a menacing appearance, described by Mitsubishi as a shark-nosed front end inspired by jet fighter air intakes.
The dual-clutch transmission can be driven either in normal, sport or supersport mode.