The Evo SE—it stands for ”Special Edition”—is the latest iteration of one of the greatest sport sedans to ever hit the road, offering a package that slots between the Evo GSR and the range-topping MR Touring, and providing an ideal mix of features from both. That means it still packs a turbocharged 2.0-liter I4 engine, good for 291 hp and 300 lb.-ft. of torque, mated to Mitsubishi’s Twin Clutch-Sportronic transmission, a six-speed auto box with paddle shifters that’s known for its precise, split-second gear shifts.
To help drivers wring the most out of that powertrain, the Evo SE relies on the Super-All Wheel Control handling system and sits on an ultra-high-performance suspension package boasting Eibach springs, Bilstein shocks and two-piece Brembo stoppers. As for the driver and front-seat passenger, the sitting is done on a pair of heated Recaros.
Mitsubishi’s new crossover is the perfect illustration of the old saying that “sometimes, less is more.” Building on the same foundation beneath the popular seven-seat Outlander, the Outlander Sport wears a smaller, completely redesigned body that’s 14 inches shorter than that of its larger sibling—providing ample room for up to five adults—while being more efficient and more fun to drive.
The new sheet metal shows the same distinctly aggressive, jet-fighter-inspired appearance as the Evolution, with a rear spoiler out back for improved aerodynamics and enhanced style. And that athletic look isn’t just for show. The Outlander Sport holsters a responsive 2.0-liter I4 that leverages the automaker’s MIVEC (Mitsubishi Innovative Valve-timing Electronic Control) to help achieve an estimated EPA highway rating of 31 mpg.
That combination of fun and fuel savings carries over to the Outlander Sport’s transmission choices, too. A five-speed manual is standard on the entry-level model, with an advanced Sportronic continuously variable transmission (CVT) an option, and the CVT is standard on the up-level Outlander Sport SE. The DIY shifter has been updated over past applications for better feel, performance and fuel economy, while the CVT now provides two different shift-mapping setups.
According to Mitsubishi Dealers NC, under normal driving conditions, the transmission seeks to provide a satisfying balance between efficiency and performance, but when drivers push the Outlander Sport to its limits, the unit switches to an enthusiast-oriented manual mode that mimics the functionality of a traditional six-speed gearbox. And for drivers who want even more grip and control, the compact crossover also offers a revised version of the lighweight electronically controlled four-wheel-drive system from the Outlander.
“The all-new 2011 Outlander Sport is a reflection of what happens when Mitsubishi Motors focuses its engineering and design resources on the mission of developing a fun, expressive, affordable, yet eco-friendlier vehicle,” said Shinichi Kurihara, president and CEO of Mitsubishi Motors North America.
And in this case, it’s mission accomplished.
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