Driven: Final Edition #5, Hallmark Mitsubishi

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Today marks the closing of a book, and that makes me feel a little sad.  I’m driving to Hallmark Mitsubishi in Nashville to review a Final Edition Evolution X, which will likely be the last new Evo I’ll ever get to drive.  I’ve arranged this with my friend Evan, who is the sales manager here.

Production has now ended on the venerable Evo X, and it endured for a full eight year run.  It’s crazy to think about it this way, but Mitsubishi launched and sold the first six iterations of this car in that same amount of time.  The actual art of evolving, then, had seemingly come to a standstill.  But examining this information a little more closely reveals a different story.

Evo X Final Edition

Evo X Final Edition

The Evo dominated the small displacement boosted AWD segment when it landed in the USA in 2003, and from a performance standpoint, that’s never changed.  As high resale values will indicate, this is a niche car that is only attractive to a handful of buyers.  In 2011, the Evolution X won Car & Driver’s best handling car for under $40,000.  At the most basic analysis, the Evo is a take-no-prisoners performance car that is substantially overbuilt with a single purpose: Going faster.  You won’t find braking based (read: open) differentials, twist beam rear suspension, a tiny turbocharger, lack of revs, or a top mounted intercooler here.  The 4B11 continues the 4G63 tradition that a 200whp gain is no problem for an unopened engine, stock cams and all.  There are very few factory forced induction four cylinders that can boast this.

Little reliability issues were addressed in the first three years of the X’s run, moving the platform toward bulletproof status: The timing chain was changed and a differential pin issue resolved.  Very minor upgrades happened as well: A color HUD, bluetooth audio, and an unadvertised 20+ HP increase.

Upon arriving at the dealership and seeing the car in person, the packaging of the Final Edition is good.  You get an advertised 303hp, the two piece Brembo front rotors and Bilstein suspension from the MR, lots of cosmetic upgrades like a numbered plaque, painted black roof, black fabric headliner, darker Enkei wheels, and red accent stitching.

There are four colors available for the Final Edition: A new Pearl White, Octane Blue, Rally Red, and the Mercury Gray example you see here.

Outside the dealership.

Outside the dealership.

Twinning

Twinning.

The car on the left is the one I took on a short drive.  It’s pretty special, because it has the number 5 plaque!

US0005

 

Window sticker for #5

Window sticker for #5

Due to the fact it’s such a low number, it would definitely be the one I would take.  I took it for a very brief drive, and didn’t rev it deep or drive it hard.  It took special permission for this to happen for the Evom community.  To protect the sanity of the eventual owner, as well as their investment, Hallmark’s policy is to not allow test drives on Evos.  This is great for us as consumers, so we can be assured the cars haven’t been beaten on test drives.

Interior of an FE, 2015 Lancer seats.

Interior of a 2015 FE, Lancer seats.

Before we get into the full driving impression, let’s talk about the white elephant in the room, which would be the lack of Recaro seats.  Being honest, at the outset, I considered this a deal breaker.  My sales lady, Alexa, was helpful, and fairly new to the dealership.  She hadn’t yet seen an Evo with Recaros, because there were only 2015s onhand when she started.  She told me that several customers had mentioned this aspect when looking at new cars.  Before driving, I sat in the 2015 seats and decided that it would still be worth it to have a Final Edition.  If bothersome enough, pull the Lancer seats, stow in attic, and buy some aftermarket ones that are better matched to the car’s capabilities.  The resale value potential of the FE is worth this minor inconvenience.

On the road, it’s still very much an Evo.  The MR bits are nice.  The ride offered by the Bilsteins is noticeably better than the standard GSR.  Power I didn’t test, but a little bump over what my 2013 had stock is easy to imagine.  Having two piece front rotors that decrease weight in the front, if only even a little, is great.  The Evo X already boasts the best weight distribution of any production Evo, and seeing these here is a nice touch.

In the showroom

In the showroom

 

Final Edition Enkei wheels

Final Edition Enkei wheels

Handling and precision are still the hallmarks (pun intended) of this chassis.  Nothing in this price range drives as sublime nor is so easy to place.  Steering response is instantaneous and predictable.  Traction is relentless.

Fit and finish is good, and the overall quality if the interior is up with the FE bits.

At the end of the day, I think the small price increase for what is basically a collectible car with the SS package and MR suspension/rotors is a great bargain.

It’s definitely the end of an era, where unapologetic performance cars no longer have a place.  So while mission statements of the competition have changed, the Evo rides into the sunset as an uncompromised performance car.  A gas guzzling, port injection, full time all wheel drive car that makes for a buzzy highway commute with its short gears and minimal sound deadening.  If you don’t get it, you’ve probably never owned an Evo. If you do, you already love it, and your last chance to pick a new one up is ending very soon.

Hallmark Mitsubishi

Hallmark Mitsubishi

It would have been impossible to create this writeup without the help and kindness of my friends at Hallmark Mitsubishi.  The sales and management staff is friendly and helpful.  The service department is exceptional, and quite unlike what I had come to expect from Mitsubishi dealerships in the past.  I’ve had Mitsubishi and Volkswagen work done at both of their locations.  If you find yourself near Nashville and are interested in a Final Edition Evo, other Mitsubishi, VW, or Hyundai, definitely keep Evan and team at Hallmark in mind.  I’ve bought and sold two cars here as well, and had great experiences front to back.

New Outlanders selling well at Hallmark.

New Outlanders selling well at Hallmark.

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