For the second time within the period of a month, we check out a Mitsubishi. The only difference being that this is a car the triple-diamond brand really should be making. Scrap the rest of the product line. Don't waste your time on the Eclipse. Galant? See our earlier review. The only car Mitsubishi needs to be building is the legendary Lancer Evolution.

What is it?

A winged, blinged all-wheel-drive sport sedan, the Lancer Evolution GSR is a continuation of a line of long-legendary rally cars that first gained notoriety on the World Rally Championship. Originally designed as a homologation model for WRX, worldwide demand grew and the first models exported to the United States were the Evo VIII or Evo 8. As with the Nissan GTR, the Lancer-Evolution's reputation preceded its North American arrival by way of the exposure it received on the Grand Turismo video game.

What's it up against?

The most comparable model to the Lancer Evolution is definitely the Subaru WRX-STi. Another possible contender would be the Ford Focus RS, which hasn't yet arrived on these shores.

Any breakthroughs?

Althouh not available on our test car since it was a GSR, the other version of the Evo (Lancer Evolution MR) is equipped with a six-speed twin-clutch Sportronic Shift Transmission (TC-SST). For the purpose of this review, we will concentrate on the five-speed manual GSR.

How does it look?

Sporting a snout that bears a passing similarity to the Nissan GTR, which we recently tested, the Lancer Evolution carries over the basic body design of the standard Lancer, with the addition of ground effects, a front lip kit, a rear diffuser and through the addition of the GSR Sight, Sound and Spoiler package, the famously gargantuan rear wing is included at just the right height to cut the driver's rearward visibility in half.

A good-looking three-box sedan, it is one you shouldn't shy away from. Possessing side lines that mimic the look of a BMW 3-Series four-door, it stands out from other vehicles in its niche. Rally-inspired foglamps and HID headlamps in front as well as the intercooler poking through a portal in the lower grille are there for all the fan-boys to get hot and bothered by, while a central NACA duct to introduce cool air to the intake and two flanking vents help to exhaust trapped air from under the hood area.

Overall, it's an inspired look. Except for that vision-blocking wing-through-the-rear-window thing.

And inside?

The interior of the Lancer Evolution GSR is a mix of parts from many different well-known aftermarket suppliers. This is a case where the sum is definitely greater than the parts. Starting with specially designed Recaro sport seats, which incorporate side airbags, they are wide enough to support the medium-sized fast and furious kid as well as the larger economy-sized Joe Sixpack. A thickly leather-wrapped steering wheel has controls for the Super All-Wheel Drive system on the left spoke and cruise controls on the right. The steering wheel features a tilt adjustment, but is curiously lacking in a telescoping function, which would help drivers of differing sizes find a good seating position.

Silver accents throughout the cabin help to cut the negative space that the dark upholstery projects, while a faux carbon-look trim piece dissects the dashboard. A pair of silver-ringed tachometer and speedometer gauges fill the instrument panel, while the center stack is adorned with automatic climate controls and storage cubby holes. Down below in the center console, is the short throw five-speed shifter adorned with a miniature "baseball" for a shifter knob!

The Rockford-Fosgate AM/FM/Sirius Satellite radio is also equipped with a six-CD changer. It is impressive in drowning out the whine of the turbocharged four-cylinder. The great sounding unit is equipped with an in-trunk mounted sub-woofer. That and the trunk-mounted battery and window washer reservoir manage to suck up lots of the available trunk space depth.

But does it go?

Like a stealth fighter jet, it does! But in fact, with the wing and other add-ons, it's not all that stealthy. No matter. Powered by the forcefulness of a 2-liter inline four-cylinder engine with Mitsu's MIVEC variable valve timing system, the intercooled and turbocharged engine produces 291-horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque. But that's just on paper. The engine, known internally as the 4B11, has ditched the use of a balancer shaft as seen on the previous Evo engine, due to improved NVH and new hydraulic engine mounts.

Real world driving on our South Florida test loop showed a four-door that thought it was a sport coupe, and also threw in just enough of chaos on launch to make it fun. Standing on the loud pedal had all four wheels working at varying levels of drive torque. With technologies such as Active Center Differential (ACD) 4-wheel drive, Active Yaw Control (AYC) rear differential, Active Stability Control (ASC), it features acronyms that would sound more at home when discussing aircraft than cars.

The GSR arrives standard with a new five-speed manual gearbox that has no dedicated reverse gear. Due to space limitations, an arrangement was made to use the 1st and 3rd gears and combine them with a synchromesh to get that backward motion.

Under heavy acceleration, the Evo is a blast as you are constantly offering driver input just to keep tracking straight (providing that is where you want to aim the car). It's not the sound that you would realize with a small block V8 or even a more refined German six-cylinder, but it is satisfying, nonetheless. Powering through a turn makes the varying torque of the wheels more evident as each is searching for the right amount of grip. Credit belongs to the inverted MacPherson struts up front and the multi-link setups out back for confident handling. Disable the Active Stability Control (ASC) and the car takes on a more "raw" feeling that is as rewarding as it is likely to get some drivers in over their heads. Tap the four pot front and two pot rear Brembo brake set to bring things back under control, should the need occur.

With an aluminum head and block providing power, and 18-inch Enkei wheels and specially designed Yokohama Advans providing contact, the Lancer Evolution tips the scales at a middleweight 3,517 lbs. Mitsubishi claims mileage in the neighborhood of 16 mpg in the city and 22 on the highway.

Why you would buy it:

You like drawing attention from fan-boys and haters alike, and fancy yourself as a potential World Rally Cup champion in the making.

Why you wouldn't:

You don't have a pulse, nor care to drive a vehicle that just looks as though it has been cleared by Air Traffic Control for take-off.

2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution GSR, $32,990. As tested, $35,665

Sight, sound and spoiler package, $2,000; Destination, $675.

Words and photos by Mark Elias.