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Found some floormats...

I just got back from a test drive of the EVO VIII. The dealer was in the car, and the engine hadn't been properly broken in yet, so I didn't push the car to the limits. I did however get to drive the car long enough and hard enough to give a "daily driver" review.

General: I drove the only model they had which was red. The only options were the carbon spoiler and the sun roof. MSRP was posted on the car as $30,812 including destination. There was a $995 dollar "dealer prep" fee added into the price, which to me is like charging $995 over MSRP, but in the dealers defense that $995 markup was on every car they had on the lot.

Exterior: Did a thorough walk around. The body seam flaws that another reviewer had mentioned were present in this model as well. The seam between the right front panel and the hood was wider than the seam on the other side. A similar problem was noticeable with the seams for the trunk. These were very minor differences, had I not been looking specifically for those flaws I would not have noticed. I'm not generally a fan of red cars, but the car looked *good*. The fact that the red Brembo covers exactly matched the color of the car added to the overall effect. If I was to get an EVO, I think I'd end up going with the red.

The exterior trim looks good from a distance, and in my opinion I like the more subdued badging on the EVO better than those put on the STi. Up close however the badging starts to look like the cheap shiny plastic it is. The black grills on the front and hood looked both nice and functional. The tail pipe was nothing special compared to the chromed engraved one on the STi.

Carbon fiber wing looked incredible. Was almost too hot to touch under the 100+ degree sun we had today, but felt very solid. Definitely a must have option IMHO.

The wheels are something of a disappointment. I don't think I'd replace them, but they don't do much to add to the look of the car. Overall while I'm sure they are lightweight and functional they are very plain. The silver wheels on the STi look better.

Interior: Blue on black seats look odd in a red car. The black, suede effect, portion of the seats look very nice and have a great feel. Too bad the cheap looking and feeling blue nylon is right next to it. Front seats are very comfortable and supportive. I'm larger than average (6'2 220) and they felt great on me. I had no trouble at all finding the proper seat position (all the way back). Wife reports the back seat is marginal at best.

Gauges are *TERRIBLE*, both unattractive and less than ideally positioned. Many of the interior controls were difficult to reach with the seat all the way back (A/C, Radio, basically everything on the center of the dash. Other controls were easy enough to get at.

I'm no audiophile, but the quality of the stock radio and speakers was unacceptable and would need to be replaced IMHO. Black suede finish on the armrest was one nice touch. The steering wheel has an excellent feel, but I think I prefer the slightly thicker grip on the WRX wheel. The price listed also includes the EVO-VIII branded floor mats, plain and don't match the rest of the interior colors (they're grey) but nice.

The Drive: On to the fun part. As I stated at the start, I was driving on city streets and freeway, with the dealer in the car, in a vehicle with 29 miles on it. Needless to say there were no 6000 RPM clutch drops, no speeds above 85, and no other forms of harsh treatment.

The ride is rough. Even on the well maintained roads in the area we were in and on an Interstate freeway, any bump hit was noticeable. It made what I consider the relatively stiff WRX feel sloppy. The ride was *not* so bad that it would be intolerable for long trips, or that you would get out and need to rub your kidneys. The trade off is that there is virtually *zero* body roll. I did a couple of quick lane changes on the freeway at the speed limit (75) that would have had my Talon squealing and squatting on it's right side. The mauever was so smooth that my wife barely noticed what I was doing. I did one moderately fast right hand turn at a green light. While my Talon would have been capable of making the same turn, it would do so only with a great deal of squeal from the front tires. There was no such problem with the EVO. As someone who did race go karts, the statement "go kart" type handling is definitely an exaggeration. The only other car I've driven that handled like this was a mid 90's 911 with AWD, and the EVO may well be better if I was comparing side by side.

The breaks are with out question the best I've ever felt. I haven't driven anything that they could be compared to. They manage to stop quickly without feeling grabby. I didn't get on them nearly enough to know if they would fade over time.

The transmission/shifter/clutch are also very nice. Easily my favorite thing about the car. The throws are short and the gates close. As I drove today the thumb and forefinger on my right hand were taped up and not usable, but I had no problem flicking the shifter through the gears with just the pinky and ring finger of my right hand. The clutch has just the right feel to it for me. It didn't take me any time to adjust to the position or break point of the clutch. The gear ratios appear to be set up ideally for my kind of daily driving. While there was significant turbo lag in 1st, each subsequent gear I was back in the middle of the power band while I continued to accelerate. I honestly don't think it needs a 6th gear.

The power of the car was slightly disappointing. Granted, I wasn't driving the car the way it was designed, but I drove it basically how I drive my Talon or my wife’s Eclipse GS-T Spyder everyday. Additionally, the car was more than likely running on 91 Octane, the best we can get around here. The power took a *LOT* longer to come on than I expected. It wasn't until about 3600 RPM that the power really got there. The car was also just woefully underpowered until the turbo kicks in. My Talon/Eclipse seem to have a lot more power down low ( <3000 RPM) which I find unbelievably odd. Once that power comes on it's head snapping. Impressive, but it just didn't feel like 25% more power than a WRX/Talon/Eclipse. I feel that, unless your willing to beat on your transmission, the EVO is going to lose out on 0-60 to a lot of cars that are "slower" because the power just isn't there at the low end. I'd be willing to take less peak hp and torque if they could shift the power band down. This may be easy enough to do aftermarket, but I don't want to have to go to aftermarket parts on a $30,000 car. Who knows what I could do with $10,000 in after market on an SRT-4 Neon or a Tiburon?

Summary: Most of what matters they got right. The handling, breaking, and shifting are all perfect or near perfect. The power of the car to me just felt off. This may improve as it's broken in, run at higher RPMs, and so on, but I doubt the low end power is going to improve, and as it stands it's just awful. The interior is bad, not Neon or standard Lancer bad, but subpar compared to a regular WRX. The car looks much better in person than in photos. It's not as aesthetically pleasing to my eye as a Gen2 Eclipse or 3000GT, but it's not the fugly econobox the standard lancer is either. If my deal for the STi falls through, it would be a tough choice between a WRX and an EVO given the price difference.
 

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Thanks for all the info. I personally have taken a second look at the EVO after hearing all the good stuff about it. I think it is going to be important for each person to judge for themselves here. I think the STi is a little more my style as I am looking for a car to play with, have fun with the power, but also not to make me or my passengers uncomfortable all the time. I cant wait to get some info from the people who start to get their cars...I think I will trust the people on the board more than the magazines.....whirling a car around a track a few times and then trying to write a 3-page article on it while all the time speculating what this car would be like to drive in the real-world just doesnt work.
 

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Thanks for the perspective. The more the better in my mind, as I try to decide what I'll do for sure with my hard earned $$$. Still leaning STi way.
 

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Great review. It's nice to see many different in-depth reviews that somewhat agree with each other. That at least helps to eliminate personal bias.

You know...something else I'm still wondering about is the ringer rumor. People who have driven a dealer car are saying the power isn't amazing....yet the mags are pretty close time wise. Maybe that has to do with the ringer press cars? Maybe we're faster yet than the mags would know?

Just thinking out loud....thanks again!
 

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CloNeGTS said:
You know...something else I'm still wondering about is the ringer rumor. People who have driven a dealer car are saying the power isn't amazing....yet the mags are pretty close time wise. Maybe that has to do with the ringer press cars? Maybe we're faster yet than the mags would know?

Just thinking out loud....thanks again!
It really makes you wonder, especially when a review states the EVO faster 0-60 and in the 1/4.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
It really makes you wonder, especially when a review states the EVO faster 0-60 and in the 1/4.
I have no doubt that you could generate some *really* low 0-60 times with the EVO if you were driving it, well like a test car. If you're willing to launch at 4000+ RPM where all the power is on tap you could post some rediculous numbers. I'm certain that this is what the mag's are doing, they're abusing the cars because the cars are theirs. Heck I'd do the same thing. But I doubt that most of us are going to drive the car that way on a regular basis.

If you notice in the C&D review they give the following numbers:

0-60 5-60
(hard launch) (soft launch)
EVO 5.0 6.7
STi 4.6 5.8

While the EVO and STi are very similar under the hard launch, the STi is almost a full second faster when doing a "street start". If you've haven't read any of the various articles that C&D has written in the past regarding their testing methods, I'll explain the difference here. The 0-60 time listed is the obtained by using whatever launch method gives the best times without breaking any of the manufacture's guidelines. For manual tranismission cars this usually means dropping the clutch at whatever RPM is specified for peak torque.

The 5-60 street start time is obtained by allowing the car to roll in first gear, then flooring the gas, and shifting into second just before the car hits the red line.

I don't have the article where they explained this in front of me, but that's the basic difference.

As expected, both cars are significatly slower in the 5-60 soft launch. The STi loses 1.2 seconds, which is pretty good compared to C&D results for other turbo charged cars (the WRX was 1.5 slower). The EVO gives up a much larger 1.7 seconds. Basically, until the EVO's turbo kicks in, it accelerates a lot like....a Lancer. If you're willing to kick the turbo in quicker by abusing the tranny, you can still make great times. Otherwise, suffer through the painfully slow launches. Not having driven the STi, I can't say what the low end power will be like, but the fact that it loses less time in the street start than a regular WRX tells me there's going to be more low end power there, probably similar to a 2.5 RS.

Another point worth mentioning is that while Mitsubishi apparently extended it's power train warranty to 70,000 miles recently, this warranty does *not* apply to the EVO. Could it be because they fully expect that most drivers are going to be beating on the tranny?

I plan on trying to weasel my way into a test of the SRT-4 Neon this coming weekend (should be a much easier task). I also hope to take an 04 WRX out for a spin :) .
 

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If you go out for a test drive of the SRT-4 and the 04 WRX, I hope you can give us a nice in-depth description of your impressions as you did for the Evo!

Thanks!
 
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