Power vs Traction. RWD vs AWD. Displacement vs Turbo.
by David Pratte
Normally we try to bring you head-to-head racetrack shootouts that pit similar types of vehicles against each other. But every once in a while, it’s fun (and surprisingly informative) to step outside the industry’s definitions and categories, by testing two vehicles with utterly different approaches to going fast. There probably aren’t too many people out there cross-shopping the Ford
Mustang Boss 302 and the Mitsubishi
Evolution MR, but perhaps our test results will inspire a few folks to broaden their definition of what “fun and fast” really means and look beyond the categories and sub-categories the industry’s marketing nerds have been corralling us with.
Sports car, pony car, sport compact – who cares? If you’re an enthusiast-driver looking for something that’ll put a smile on your face, whether it’s at the race track or down your favorite winding road, the real questions should be: how fast is it, and is it any fun to drive?
THE ODD COUPLE
On paper the Boss 302 and the Evolution X MR couldn’t be more different. Where the Mustang uses a brawny 444 hp 5.0-liter V8 to motivate its rear wheels, the Evo is equipped with a tough little 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-banger that sends 291-horsepowers to all four wheels. This obviously puts the Mitsubishi at a significant power disadvantage, though the Evo is almost 100-lbs lighter despite having two extra doors.
Still, this is not a contest the Evolution X is going to win on power-to-weight ratio, but what it does have in its favor is a whole host of high-tech grip-enhancing features including an Active Center Differential that sends torque to whichever wheel(s) have the most available traction. The Active Yaw Control system is just as impressive, which uses a rear limited-slip differential and a pair of clutches to split torque between the rear wheels, dialing out the understeer normally associated with AWD vehicles and replacing it with a machine that’s amazingly neutral. The dual-clutch 6-speed flappy paddle gearbox in the MR model is also a technological marvel, providing impossibly fast though rather harsh shifts in either direction.