When most people cross-shop cars, they think of practicality first, and that’s clearly wrong. The one thing car enthusiasts have known for decades—the one notion that could save normies from a hum-drum existence—is that you buy for experience value per dollar. With that in mind, I present this Lancer Evolution MR, the irresistible performing fly in your automotive practicality ointment.
This 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X MR is the final and much maligned hurrah for what was once an awesome automaker and brand. Yes, I know that technically Mitsubishi still technically makes cars, but I double-dog dare you name four cars in their entire lineup without Googling it. Didn’t think so.
This Lancer Evolution X—known lovingly as the Evo—was billed as a poised and track-focused Subaru STi killer, but here’s a word to the wise: the platform will give Nissan’s GT-R flagship a run for its hard-earned money with a few choice upgrades.
The nearly 300 horsepower produced by its 2.0-liter four cylinder isn’t what’s so mind blowing about this car, it’s the 300 ft-lbs of torque, the majority of which is available almost immediately after idle. For a four-banger, that’s immense, and for a car with an asking price under $20,000, I’m not sure that a better value per dollar exists. It’s thousands of dollars less than a fully-loaded Honda Civic EX-L with more usable torque than a Ferrari 360 Modena. No big deal, right?
Yes, this car may look quite clean in pictures, but with a model this high-strung, it pays to be meticulous in terms of a pre-purchase inspection. For instance, make sure the fluid for the finicky six-speed semi-automatic TC-SST transmission has been changed recently, because you’ll need two gallons and a filter to change it out yourself—at a cost of $150 for each component or $450 total for a simple fluid change.
The Evo platform also tends to be immeasurably attractive to people that can’t help but drive them like total pant stains, so expect that at the car’s 65,000 mileage figure, you’ll likely need to replace bushings, brakes and other pseudo-consumables at a lower mileage than usual—probably not cheaply, but with research and planning, you’ll get to keep both your kidneys.
Personally, I’m a bit out of the phase where I value above all else the outright speed and hoonability of an automobile, but I’d daily drive the backwards-hat-wearing shit out of this car. It has an incredibly iconic look, the transmission is glorious when you learn its shifting quirks in traffic, and the addition of a few mods makes it completely untouchable in terms of performance per dollar. It does have a few modifications which might throw off some prospective buyers, but as long as the installs and components were all above board, there is nothing to worry about—that’s what these cars were built for.
With prices for older generation Evos selling in the mid-20k range and a brand new one fetching twice the price, there’s no reason not to consider this if you need something that you can at least pretend is practical. After all, no one ever said fooling yourself had to be a negative experience.