2003 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 8 2.0 turbo from North America
A high performance bargain
Nothing has gone wrong with this car.
Driven hard, the EVO 8 is awesome. In terms of brakes and handling, this EVO is nearly track ready. Adding just $2K worth ECU programming, down pipe and cat-back exhausts to a stock EVO 8, I can't think of anything under $40K that will touch it on the track in the US.
The turbo has no lag, starts to spool at 2900 rpm, and it'll push you back hard starting at 3300 rpm and levels off at 5000-6000 rpm, there is little point in taking it to the 7000+ rpm red-line without exhausts system upgrades. This is while running 91-octane premium gas. My understanding is that it would do better on 93-octane gas, but 93-octane gas not readily available in Southern California.
The standard 6 speaker AM/FM/CD sound system is pretty good.
The HID headlights are excellent, as an added bonus, they are height adjustable from within the car and the car comes factory stock with additional driving lights.
In terms of daily use, the EVO's gas mileage is not good for a light car with a 4 cylinder engine. (I'm getting 18 mpg combined) It's tuned to run pretty rich (safe). However, I don't think people buy EVO's for the gas mileage. Additionally, the mileage should improve significantly with more aggressive tuning associated with the ECU reprogramming and exhausts system upgrades.
The steering is quick to the point of being a little nervous. This can be tiring for a daily driver for some people.
The stiff suspension is pretty hard on your kidneys on freeway expansion joints at 10-30 mph. A little like a slammed sub-compact with stiff springs.
The sight lines out front are excellent; the large carbon fiber rear wing is located exactly at the height where it interferes with the rear view from the center mirror. The Right side wing support distracts a little bit for over-the-right-shoulder view during right hand lane changes on the Freeway.
The transmission gear ratio and spacing works well, but the shifter is not as good as Honda or BMW, it's a little bit notchy. The clutch is a little bit heavy, but this is to be expected for a performance car.
The Recaro bucket seats are excellent.
The huge Brembo brakes are great. However, the pads are a little noisy, dusty and likely to wear quickly for a daily driver, but brake pads should be easy and reasonably cheap to replace.
The heater, AC and defroster all work well.
I want to be clear; the negatives I have stated above are very minor for people looking for a reasonably priced high performance automobile and should be expected for this level of performance.
This car has an amazing level of performance for not too much money!
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 19th March, 2004
In response to the brakes. They are quite expensive. Just the pads cost me $185 for the front alone. The tires (as you probably already know) are really expensive and need to be replaced around 10,000 miles. My neighbor works for Mitsubishi and he told me that it is quite common to need tires before that. It's an incredible automobile, but the cost of maintaining this car is up there with cars costing twice as much. I love the car, but it cost a little more to maintain than my previous car- a 1998 BMW M3- which was $48K. I guess that's the price you pay for extreme performance.
I would recommend a harder compound tire. That would lengthen the time that you need betwen tire changes. The Advans that come from the factory are as soft as a street tire can be. If you put on low profile tires that had a 40,000 mile guarantee, you're wallet might be a lot happier. Sure you'll get a little less performance from the tires, (you won't be able to take a 90 degree turn at 45 mph with no tire squeal) but unless you get sponsored, any car that has those Advans on will eat them up quickly. You can also get the brake pads for a better price if you do some shopping around. I found front and back pads for $175 with just a little bit of work. They are a little expensive, but it feels like punishment to drive almost anything else.