To understand the difference between the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR and the Volkswagen Golf R, perhaps it’s best to view them as regional cuisine. The Evo, therefore, would be a bento box full of sushi, while the Golf R would be a bratwurst on a bun, stacked with sauerkraut. If you’re in the mood for one, the other just isn’t going to suffice.
On the street, there’s no contest between the two cars. The Evo makes no concessions to passenger comfort or amenities, and it’s interior bits and pieces come from the automotive equivalent of the dollar store. It’s loud, too, and saves money in the strangest ways; the last Lancer Ralliart we drove, for example, didn’t even have UV coated glass. On a warm Florida day, the Lancer’s A/C system struggled to keep the cabin cool, so we can’t imagine driving the car in the middle of summer.
The Golf R, which costs significantly less money than the Lancer Evo MR, has a cabin built to near-luxury car standards. The interior materials come close to rivaling Audi, and the cabin doesn’t broadcast road noise like the Evo. Even the 2.0-liter TSI engine in the Golf sounds better, prompting drivers to wring it out at every opportunity.
It’s a different story on the racetrack. Here, the Evo is in its element, and all passenger-comfort sins are forgiven. As Automobile’s Jason Cammisa explains, the Evo is perfectly happy to hang the tail out in corners, yet it’s technology-enhanced all-wheel-drive system has no problem in getting the power to the pavement. If driving the Evo on the street has you questioning the car’s sticker price, driving it on the track will show that it punches above its weight.
The Golf R, on the other hand, is positively emasculated by an intrusive stability control system that can’t be deactivated (same as on the VW GTI). It’s not just slower on the track, it’s completely out of its element. What’s more bizarre is that Euro Golf R’s have a defeatable traction control, while U.S. car’s don’t. Thank our litigation-happy society for that one, and it’s only likely to get worse in the future.
Until someone comes out with a way to defeat the traction control on the Golf R, it’s a great street car only. If you rarely run track days, it will probably work for you as a daily driver. On the other hand, if autocross or track days are your thing, the Golf R comes in a distant second place to the Lancer Evo.
Do you want sushi, or do you want a bratwurst?