“What’s with the seats in this thing?” says a passenger, awkwardly settling into a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X MR.
OK, they’re real firm. And you feel like you’re actually sitting in a bucket. Don’t look for Evo X loungers in La-Z-Boy’s catalog.
But it’s not the seating that makes the “rally sedan” special. It’s the engine, a high-pressure 2.0L turbocharged DOHC I-4 that delivers blistering power and turns this small but aggressive car into a 21st century pocket rocket.
Over the years, I’ve liked Mitsubishi speedsters, particularly the ‘90s-era GT 3000 VR4, a brilliant blend of twin-turbo strut, lovely handling and good looks.
The Evo may not be as refined (or as expensive) as the GT 3000. But what it lacks in polished manners, the Evo makes up with raw street cred. It takes little spurring for this all-wheel driver to go all out.
Racing-inspired features include a 6-speed TC-SST dual-clutch gearbox for super fast shifts, a high-strength aluminum block and head and full-floating pistons pumping out 291 hp at 6,500 rpm.
At 146 hp/L, it has one of the highest specific outputs for any entry tested in the 10 Best Engines competition. Its twin-scroll turbocharger delivers more than 20 psi (1.4 bar) of boost to the combustion chamber. That’s explosive and impressive. I loved this frenzied car, driving it every chance I could.
Other Ward’s judges were less awed. They note that – from a powertrain engineering standpoint – it’s not that big a deal to pump up turbo pressure and put in extra-strong componentry, such as the connecting rods, to increase output and prevent parts from blowing up – or off.
Besides, they add, this is a low-volume race-car powertrain with limited appeal and applications. They prevailed during deliberations. That’s why the Evo 4-banger, although nominated, didn’t make this year’s list.
It did make for a lively discussion. But the other judges were mum on whether they liked the seats.
Ward’s 10 Best Engines is a copyright of Penton Media Inc. Commercial references to the program and/or awards are prohibited without prior permission of Ward’s Automotive Group.