2013 135 New Car Test Drive
The all-new 2008 Mitsubishi Evolution is bigger and more refined than its predecessor. Rally fans may regret the Evo has moved away from its roots in World Rally Championship competition, but it's faster than its predecessor by almost every measure, now more like an affordable BMW M3.
The Evo is the sports edition of the Lancer sedan. Mitsubishi doesn't bring out a new version of the Evo every year. Although the first of the Evolution models appeared 16 years ago, this all-new Evo X, as it is affectionately called by fans, is only the 10th edition. Referred to by its fans with the Roman numeral X, the Evo X follows the Evo IX by two years.
Over those two years, some radical changes have been made. The Evo X is heavier, by some 300 pounds, than the IX. But it's more powerful, too, by five horsepower and 11 pound-feet of torque, so it forfeits little if anything in sheer performance.
More important, though, are changes made outside the engine compartment. The interior is upgraded, importing many of the current family version of the Lancer's features and trim. At the head of this list is the optional navigation system employing a 30GB HDD for map storage that reserves some six GB for personal audio files. The system will also, when the Evo is parked, play video through its seven-inch screen. One interior piece, or rather two interior pieces the Evo doesn't borrow from the base Lancer are its front bucket seats. These are sourced from Recaro and break new ground with in-seat, side impact airbags.
Mitsubishi has also upgraded the Evo's running gear. There's a new, high-tech, twin-clutch, electronically shifted six-speed manual that's exclusive to the top-level Evo MR. It's a sweetheart of a transmission that puts some mega-bucks luxury sports cars to shame. The new Evo's all-wheel drive system is a serious move upscale, too, using data from yaw sensors, steering wheel angle, throttle opening, wheel speeds and the cars' sideways and fore-and-aft motions to regulate differential limiting action as needed to put the power to the wheels that can use it best to deliver what the computer perceives the driver is wanting.
The result of all this technology: Almost immediately after climbing in, we found it very easy to drive very hard. We were able to drive it right to the limit on the second lap of an unfamiliar racing circuit, this more a credit to the 2008 Evo's predictable handling than our driving prowess. It always seems to do exactly what the driver wants.
Pricing is competitive, as well. The GSR's $32,990 easily bests the most likely cross-shopped Subaru WRX STI's $36,000-plus. Mitsubishi hadn't released pricing on the MR when this was posted, but best-guestimates peg that at around $38,000, which again comes in under the STI's higher end of around $40,000. It's even plausible, as some Mitsubishi folk suggest, although off the record, to consider the 2008 Evolution as competitive with a two or three year old Audi A4 or S4.
Choosing between the Evo GSR and MR models comes down to personal preferences and budget; we liked both models. One of the first entry-level luxury cars to hit the U.S. market, the BMW 1 Series is anything but bargain-basement. With a choice of three powerful six-cylinder engines and dimensions that rival earlier 3 Series models, the 1 Series are bona fide BMWs, complete with precision driving dynamics, premium features and a pricey sticker.
The 2013 BMW 1 Series is mostly unchanged over last year, but receives some additional standard features and retooled options. The high-performance 1 Series M Coupe is gone, replaced by another sporty variant: the 2013 BMW 135is, available in both coupe and convertible body styles. The 2013 BMW 135is is now the most powerful of the bunch, with unique exterior and interior trim.
In some ways, the 1 Series is the spiritual successor to the sporty BMW 2002, produced 1968-76, and in some ways the 320i yuppy-mobile that followed. The BMW 128i and BMW 135i coupes and convertibles deliver the sporty dynamics of rear-wheel drive, agile handling, powerful engines and seating for four, all those attributes we've come to expect from the Bavarian automaker, in a smaller, more affordable package.
The BMW 128i Coupe and Convertible are powered by a 3.0-liter inline-6 that generates 230 horsepower and 200 foot-pounds of torque. They're available with 6-speed manual or 6-speed Steptronic automatic. BMW says the 128i can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 7.0 seconds with the automatic, 6.4 seconds with the manual. Fuel economy for the 2013 BMW 128i coupe is 18/28 mpg City/Highway with either transmission; the 2013 BMW 128i convertible achieves 18/27 mpg City/Highway with the automatic and 19/28 mpg with the manual.
The BMW 135i features a twin-scroll turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6, good for 300 hp and 300 lb.-ft. of torque. The BMW 135i Coupe and Convertible are available with a 6-speed manual or a 7-speed dual clutch transmission, which does not require manual shifting from the driver. A BMW 135i can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds with the manual gearbox, 5.3 seconds with the 7-speed DCT. Fuel economy from the BMW 135i Coupe is 20/28 mpg City/Highway with the manual and 18/25 mpg with the DCT. Convertibles earn 19/28 mpg City/Highway with the manual and 18/25 mpg with the DCT.
The 2013 BMW 135is uses a more powerful version of the 135i's turbocharged inline-6, which pumps out 320 hp and 317 lb.-ft. of torque, and a choice of 6-speed manual or 7-speed dual clutch transmission. The 135is also gets a sport-tuned suspension, additional cooling systems, and a sport exhaust that gives the 135is a throatier growl than the other 1 Series models. On the outside, it's differentiated by a high-gloss black kidney grill, black mirror caps, M Sport trim and unique 18-inch wheels.
A BMW 1 Series Convertible can drop its top in just 22 seconds. Top-down motoring is one of life's great joys, so this is a great feature.
The BMW 1 Series cars are comfortable, sporty and agile, true driver's cars, with the feel of rear-wheel drive. We found the BMW 128i Convertible a delight to drive and it has enough power. More fun to drive is a BMW 135i Coupe. The dual-scroll single-turbocharged engine turns the 135i into a little hot rod, and it seems to have a bit more torque lower down, where we use most of it in everyday driving.
While once in a class all its own, competitors to the BMW 1 Series in the entry-level luxury category have recently cropped up, like the award-winning Cadillac ATS and the forthcoming Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class, although for now both of those models only come in four-door sedan variants. Those looking for top-down fun might also consider the Audi TT convertible, or even the front-wheel-drive Mini Cooper convertible.
The 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution comes in two versions, the GSR ($32,990) and the MR. Both are four-door, five-passenger sedans and are powered by the same intercooled turbocharged four-cylinder engine and come with all-wheel drive. The GSR comes with a five-speed manual transmission, while the MR has an all-new, high-tech, twin-clutch, Sportronic, electronically shifted, six-speed manual transmission.
The GSR comes with automatic climate control, 140-watt, six-speaker, multi-media stereo, Recaro bucket seats with manual fore-aft and back angle adjustments, power windows, power door locks, keyless remote entry, floor mats and front map lights. Yokohama ASVAN asymmetrical-tread performance tires wrap around 18-inch, cast alloy.
The GSR can be ordered with two factory options. One is the Sight, Sound and Spoiler Package ($2000) that adds HID headlights with manual leveling; a 65-watt, Rockford-Fosgate premium sound system with eight, strategically positioned regular speakers plus one subwoofer; Sirius satellite radio with six months pre-paid subscription; six CD/MP3 in-dash changer; oversize rear spoiler; and FAST Key entry system, which allows keyless door unlocking and push-button start/stop for the engine. The other is premium, Phantom Black paint ($250).
Mitsubishi has kept the faith with its aftermarket vendors, which has yielded seven sets of goodies installed on the GSR either at the port of entry or by dealers. These comprise a 30GB HDD navigation system with digital CD/DVD capability ($1999; installation is extra on this and the remaining aftermarket pieces); a stand-alone, in-dash, 6CD/MP3 audio head unit ($399); a five-piece aero kit ($1999); side wind deflectors ($85); wheel locks ($40); cargo organizer ($58); and an interior sport package ($399) that replaces the leather-topped shift knob with an aluminum knob and dresses up the hand brake with an aluminum/leather grip.
The MR upgrades include the computer-shifted, six-speed manual, BBS forged alloy wheels, Bilstein shocks, Eibach springs, two-piece brake rotors (steel disc on aluminum hub for weight savings), hands-free Bluetooth cell phone functionality with voice recognition, the HID headlamps, the oversized rear spoiler and steering wheel-mounted audio controls (the toggle for the three all-wheel drive modes moves to the center console). The sole factory-installed option for the MR is a Technology Package, with the Rockford-Fosgate audio system, Sirius satellite radio, the 30GB HDD navigation system with 7.5-inch touch screen (that also displays video with the transmission in Park), the Mitsubishi Multi-Communication system (on-board computer and information system), and FAST Key.
Safety features include dual-stage frontal airbags, front seat-mounted side impact airbags, full coverage side air curtains and driver's knee airbag; electronic stability control; anti-lock brakes; electronic brake-force distribution; and tire pressure monitors. The 2013 BMW 128i Coupe ($31,200) comes with leatherette upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, eight-way manually adjustable seats, a leather-wrapped tilt/telescoping steering wheel with multi-function controls, height-adjustable front seats, cruise control, high-gloss black interior trim, split folding rear seat, power windows, door locks, and heated mirrors; trip computer, outside-temperature display, a 10-speaker audio system with DC player, HD radio, auxiliary audio jack and USB port, rain-sensing wipers with heated washers, automatic headlights, fog lights and 17-inch alloy wheels. A 6-speed manual gearbox comes standard; a 6-speed Steptronic automatic is optional (no charge).
The BMW 128i Convertible ($36,900) adds a power-folding soft top and a different wheel style, and does not have rear folding seats.
The BMW 135i Coupe ($39,300) includes a firmer sport suspension and high-performance brakes, M Sport aero body kit, adaptive xenon headlights with washers, sunroof and 18-inch wheels. A 6-speed manual is standard the 7-speed DCT dual clutch automated manual transmission is optional ($450).
The BMW 135i Convertible ($44,100) omits the coupe's body kit and folding seats (and hard top) and rides on 17-inch wheels.
The BMW 135is coupe ($43,250) and convertible ($47,950) get a more powerful version of the turbocharged inline-6, sport front seats, and unique exterior and interior trim. Cars equipped with the 7-speed dual-clutch transmission get steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
Options for 1 Series include a Premium Package, which upgrades to genuine leather upholstery, additional ambient lighting, universal garage door opener, keyless entry, auto-dimming mirrors and satellite radio with one-year subscription. The Cole Weather Package adds heated front seats and a heated steering wheel. The Technology Package adds navigation with real-time traffic information, voice recognition, smartphone integration with BMW Apps and the BMW Assist crash notification service.
Safety features on all 1 Series include dual front airbags, seat-mounted front side-impact airbags, side curtain airbags (coupe only), ABS, electronic stability control, traction control, cornering brake control, and launch control for getting started on slippery surfaces. The brake lights include a panic-braking mode that lights up the entire lens extra bright whenever the brake pedal is stomped hard.