2014 Mitsubishi Mirage

Terrible; brakes are really bad, at least an inch until you feel any stopping, sometimes scared if the car was actually going to stop, no pedal feel; steering numb, return to center was not good, all over the road, going over bumps induced hopping while steering; feel the car lean in turns; when going over wavy bumps the car strangely will pull to one side or the other, almost like the suspension travel couldn’t handle it; ride was somewhat comfortable given its short wheelbase; 3-cylinder engine is bad, shakes noticeably at a standstill, noisy, feels like you’re torturing it when trying to accelerate, when trying to accelerate it feels like its slowly losing a battle against drag and friction; at highway speeds and getting onto highways you need to plan how you’re going to get up to speed; plastic everywhere; dash was so plasticky and shiny the glare from the sun was very bright; for such a small car visibility wasn’t great, giant blind spot in rear 3/4; ugly; push button start and keyless entry!?!?, tacky looking keyless entry button, only on driver and trunk, keyhole access on passenger side.

                                2015 Subaru WRX STI vs.                                 2014 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR

One of the greatest debates out there among car enthusiasts resides with which car gives you the most bang for your buck. You’ll have your fanboi’s for every category, and those that are loyal, just because that’s all they know. For me, I have always been a Subaru fan, so it was hard not to have a biased opinion when it came down to this comparison, but I did my best to keep my heart at bay and test each of these cars with a clear and open mind. Keep in mind also, the 2014 Mitsubishi Evo, is technically the same car that came out as a 2008 model, so the STI already has some clear advantages right out of the gate.

Let’s start off with speed and power. The Evo comes packed with a 2.0L turbo-charged engine producing 291hp and 300lb-ft of torque and has a curb weight of almost 3700lbs. The STI is equipped with a larger displaced 2.5L turbo-charged Boxer engine churning out 305hp and 290lb-ft of torque, a carry over from the previous generation, and weighs in at about 3400lbs. The Evo carries a little bit more weight due to its dual-clutch transmission. If you opt for the 5-speed manual, it brings the weight down to around 3500lbs. Both reach their peak HP and torque around the same time. Most magazines have been achieving similar 0-60 times in the mid 4′s for both the EVO MR and the new STI. While I don’t have the necessary equipment, or legal means to test this repeatedly, I can say that they both felt equally as fast, and equally as powerful.

When you think of these kinds of cars, you dont expect to have luxury style interiors, which by no means do you get with either of them, but the interior of the Subaru is a million times nicer than that of the EVO. Subaru has done a great job in increasing the overall quality of materials that they are using in this all new STI. Soft touch dash material, higher quality plastics, comfortable, yet supportive seats. But there is one thing that really stands out in my mind, that steering wheel! The steering wheel may be my favorite thing about the interior. It’s a very nice flat-bottomed wheel, with a thickness that will rival ones you find on BMW’s M cars, and it feels wonderful in your hands. Everything else in the Subaru is all no nonsense. Gauges, instrument panel, center info display are all functional, and easy to use, something you want in a car that is all about the driving experience. Overall, the general feel of the STI’s cabin is a pleasant one, and not a bad place to be, whether you’re a driver or a passenger. The EVO on the other hand is full of hard, ugly plastics, that’s including the entire dash. Like the Subaru, all necessities are within reach, and easily accessible. The saving grace of the EVO’s interior are the Recaro seats. It’s the one thing Mitsubishi has over the Subaru interior wise. They were obviously very supportive, for both enthusiast driving, as well as normal day to day driving. Perhaps that’s where all the money went for the rest of the interior……

So which one is the best car for the pure driving enthusiast you ask? Well, that will depend on what you’re looking for. While these two cars have been competing head to head for a little over 2 decades, and in the U.S. for a little over a decade, I feel they are in two different realms now.

Here are my opinions on both:

2014 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X:
Right off the bat the first thing I noticed about the Evo was how cheap the interior was. The next thing I noticed once I started driving was how stiff the suspension was, and of course the very next thing I noticed was all the rattling going on due to the cheap interior and stiff suspension. Driving further down the road, I quickly realized how good this car felt in my hands. Sure, it may seem that you can feel every little bump, and that’s not how you would expect a $40,000 car to feel, but in this case its a very good thing. Everything down to the steering made me feel 100% connected to this car and the street. I could feel the suspension working, the tires rolling over the ground, every bump and rock in the road. The steering was so precise and immediately responsive, I felt that I could put this car wherever I wanted to and it it would just comply. The combination of the quick shifting dual-clutch transmission, coupled with the quick turn-in made this car very, very fun on twisty roads and hard turns. This car is made to be driven hard and when driven hard, it rewards it’s driver. I did wish it had a little bit more of a throaty exhaust note though, it would have been nice if it had been a little deeper sounding, rather than sounding like a small 4-cylinder engine with an exhaust. It makes me wonder though, as to how Mitsubishi can create something like this, a car with soul and feeling, and also create something like the new Mirage…..but more on that another time.

2015 Subaru WRX STI:
Getting into the new STI for the first time, you realize how much of a step above the Evo the interior is, as well as the previous generation STI. It is leaps and bounds better. The steering wheel and the soft touch dash is the first thing you’ll notice that is much better. Now, Subaru spent all their R&D money on making sure that this car handled amazingly, so much so that they decided they wouldn’t be able to create a hatchback version, and that money spent shows. The difference compared to the last generation is like night and day. You can feel the heft in the steering wheel immediately, and the response of the new 13.0:1 steering ratio is wonderful. The suspension feels much stiffer, but surprisingly if felt more composed than that of the WRX. Handling of the new STI was great and the engine sounds wonderful when keeping the revs high and staying in the power zone. One thing though, as much as I love the current engine in the STI, the power, the sound, the way you need to keep the revs up to feel all that power, it needs a new engine. And I say that with all the respect for that EJ, but its dated, and the other engines out there have surpassed it long ago. With as much work that Subaru did with the chassis and suspension on this car, it deserves, scratch that, it NEEDS an engine just as capable and advanced to really make the new handling shine. If this car had a combination of the low-end torque of Subaru’s new 2.0L in the WRX and the top-end power of the current engine, this car would be perfect. Maybe Subaru will squeeze out 0.5L of the new engine and this dream will happen, but who knows.

So what’s my pick? There is no clean cut answer.
If you want a car that you can drive every day and take on the track on the weekends, I think the STI is perfect for that. Its amazing when you push it hard, but livable when just scooting around town. As much as I love the way the new handling of the STI is, I can’t help but feel that EVO is the car for you if you’re able to take it on a track all the time. It is by no means worthy of being a daily driver, unless you like your back to be punished, and don’t really need to use the trunk for anything too big, as its laughable considering how large it’s rear-end looks.

So the STI beats out the EVO 2 to 1… is that?
The STI is a complete car. You can take it on a track everyday if you wanted to, and then get in and drive it home to pick up the groceries or kids and not suffer too much. The EVO, on the other hand I would 100% recommend for the track. It handles a little better, and gives better feedback, but your back and your passengers will thank you for not hauling them around town in it. The only limiting factor that keeps the STI from being the ultimate fun daily driver, is that you need to be pushing this car pretty hard to really enjoy the full potential, which local law enforcement might not be too happy with. For this pick, I can’t help but think of the Ford Fiesta ST, and this is coming from a guy who was dead set on buying the new STI.