A Serendipitous, Testosteronic Event

I know that some of you are not car buffs, in fact, if you are offended by reckless behavior, click the back button now. As a car buff that has chosen education and public service as a career I can only dream about owning such a car as I got to drive today.

Seems a new Mitsubishi dealership moved into Greenville, Texas (just down the Interstate from Commerce). I had to go get some items for one of our apartments at the Home Depot so I decided to drive past the new Mitsu dealership.

The usual rice burners, hmmmmm, what's that? Surely not here in Greenville. Yes, it is. A Lancer Evolution. Those salesmen sure look bored -- no one in the lot. Beautiful black Lancer Evolution with the wing and the whole bit. What the heck. I pull into the lot. They had to go get a dealer tag for it so we could test drive it.

That thing is fast. Man, what a kick, and the salesman hasn't gotten it out of the parking lot yet. He hits roughly 105 mph down the IH 30 service road before pulling over at a closed RV dealership to let me take over. He claims he needs to warm it up before the test drive.

I pulled out of the lot and continued west on the service road toward an intersection that would allow us to go down a recently resurfaced two-lane with very broad, sweeping turns. I knew the road and there were no other intersections of any kind for about 4 miles. The sales man has been yammering the whole time about what a car it is. After turning in the intersection and leaving the service road I give it full pedal (well, he stated it in the parking lot). After about 2500 RPMs the turbo has spooled up fully. The car can accelerate hard. It shifts quickly and solidly. Extremely poised and not at all tossed by any road irregularities. The car is doing triple digits and is almost begging to be turned loose. The gobbles up about 2 miles of sweeping turns at triple digit speeds and still seems very relaxed. We are approaching a busy intersection in the distance so I slow the car and begin to pull over.

I turn the car around in the middle of the road. An impressive 2 turns lock to lock steering ratio. It accelerates hard again. Cool, nothing broke. This time I keep my foot in it. We reach 125 incredibly fast. The car is still accelerating when I let off the gas at 130. I believe the 155 mph claim of Mitsubishi. At 125 to 130 it feels more stable than many cars at 70. It does not feel at all like we are going that fast. Amazing. (Still grinning over that). Slow for intersection. Turn signal, look both ways.

Back down the service road and onto the entrance ramp. Triple digits before the ramp spills out on to the Interstate. Stupid little compact decides to pull over into the passing lane to go past a group of trucks. Man, 70 seems so slow in this thing. The car is very relaxed at 70 only turning 3,000 RPMs. One could almost justify purchasing one of these based on some false sense of practicality.

Exit ramp back to the service road. Going back to the dealership requires one to double back and go west on the service road. I turn right at the overpass and begin puttering past an old Denny's going toward the dealership when the sales man says "Take this turn". I hesitate. "Go ahead and take it!" It is a relatively tight "S" turn that leads past a Dickie's Bar-B-Que. The road then straightens out as it passes a Cracker Barrel, a Ford dealership, a United Rental, and then the Mitsubishi Dealer. The road ahead is clear and at 4:00 PM on a hot Saturday afternoon there is no traffic. Ok, let's take it.

The car takes the turns like it is on rails. From 25 MPH at the Denny's it is going 60 at the Dickie's and almost 90 in front of the Cracker Barrel. The sales man tells me to hit the brakes. I ease into them. "Check out the brakes, hit them hard! Harder!" the salesman shouts. I stick my foot in it. The Brembos and ABS kick in and the speed scrubs off in a hurry. My body presses hard against the seat belts. The car stops with little fanfare from the suspension. Light headed. Have to mentally regroup. Amazing, I wasn't prepared for that at all. I have never been in anything that could decelerate like that. We are just in front of the Ford house. 80 mph to a full stop in about 200 feet and not a squeak or howl out of the tires. That is the most controlled car I have driven.

It is unlikely that I will ever spend $30,000 on a car that only gets about 26 MPG highway and requires premium unleaded. But, man, one of those would be fun. One could get machine lust around a vehicle like such as this. Sigh!

Parting thoughts:

1) With 4-door sedans such as the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution available, it is amazing so many people will spend $40,000 plus on some ill conceived, poor-handeling, poser, four-passenger SUV.

2) While the Escort is no comparison to the Evo, I am rather close to getting the Escort (quit laughing) to handling quite well. I can see lowering the car and/or getting some racing grade shocks and springs when some more pressing issues are solved.

In case you haven't seen one of the Lancer Evos:

http://www.mitsubishicars.com/lancerevolution/index.html

http://www.mitsubishicars.com/MMSA/jsp/evo/index.jsp