Comparing fun-to-drive track-ready racers is a daunting task. Mitsubishi's Lancer Evolution (aka Evo) and Subaru's WRX are so incredibly popular and have garnered such huge fan bases that they should have their own reality TV shows. When it comes down to making a choice between the Evo and the WRX, the tipping point may simply come down to a random preference for a certain style. These two Japanese vehicles each have a foothold in racing, too, with the Mitsubishi in Dakar and Subaru in the World Rally Championship (WRC). In fact, as soon as the Evo name enters the discussion, it's hard not to conjure up images of the legendary and grueling off-road Dakar Rally. Souped-up Mitsubishi rides have been winning these desert races for as long as we can remember. Not to mention hosting the first female driver to win Dakar. It may be hard to understand how a car that costs less than a third of European sports cars can possibly hit the 60-mph marker in 5 seconds flat (the base engine on the WRX takes a bit longer), but trust us on this one. It's all about the motorsports R&D trickle down, kids.
The most important piece of information is that the Evo's turbocharged engine, stiffer chassis, bigger brakes and sport-tuned suspension all work together to make up a four-wheeled machine that is truly stellar! The Evo's 2.0-liter four-cylinder boils 291 horses and sends 300 lb.-ft. to all four wheels. Two different transmissions are available on this car: The GSR model is equipped with a five-speed manual, while the MR pairs with the Japanese automaker's six-speed automated manual transmission with shift paddles. Fuel economy tallies around 17 mpg* in the city and 23 mpg on the highway.
As seen through the eyes of Mr. Travis Pastrana and energy-master Red Bull, it's definitely challenging to try and top Subaru's WRX. From their 250-foot jump in Long Beach and the many rally runs at the superstar-filled X-Games, the Pastrana-Red Bull duo have put Subaru's WRX through many trials and tribulations. (Understatement.) For 2013, we see that this fabulous racer comes to us unchanged, but no matter: Never fix what's not broken.
The all-wheel-drive WRX is available in five different models: base, Premium, Limited, STI and an STI Limited. Under the hood of the WRX's first three models sits Subaru's turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder boxer. This block serves up 265 horses along with 244 lb.-ft. of torque and is mated to a five-speed manual. Best news, though, is that Subaru tweaks this engine on its STI trims to serve up 305 horsepower and 290 lb.-ft. of torque. Then it cashes in all its chips and pairs this extra power with a six-speed manual transmission. EPA estimates on the base engine show up as 19 mpg city/25 mpg highway; the more-powerful engine earns 17 mpg city/23 mpg highway. *All vehicle mileage based on 2013 EPA mileage estimates. Use for comparison purposes only. Do not compare to models before 2008. Your actual mileage will vary, depending on how you drive and maintain your vehicle.
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