The paddle-shift Evo is the only one you should buy

What is it?

The paddle-shift, twin clutch version of the brilliant new Evo, and it goes a lot quicker than you can say its mouthful of a name.

SST stands for Sport Shift Transmission; this new, compact, lightweight six-speed gearbox running a clutch on each gear-cluster shaft (one for odd gears, one for even), a brain ensuring that the correct gear is pre-selected in anticipation of your next shift. These are wet plate clutches to handle the Evo’s significant torque, a first for this type of transmission.

Three operating modes are provided, ‘Normal’, ‘Sport’ and ‘Super Sport’ selected via a tab switch on the centre console near the gear-selector, although Super Sport requires the car to be stationary before it can be engaged.

It’s intended, says Mitsubishi, for closed or private roads and tracks, and it’s worth noting that the warranty does not cover the SST for use on race circuits.

You can leave the gears to change automatically, which they do in impressively tremor-free fashion, or select them via the gearlever when it’s moved into a parallel plane. It’s hard to imagine who will use this given the pair of large, well-placed, fixed-position magnesium paddles behind the steering wheel.

What’s it like?

Impressively manic if you want it to be, or surprisingly relaxing if you don’t, with the transmission shifting almost as seamlessly as a torque converter automatic.

Delayed change-up points - to 6000rpm - and swifter shifting are what you get in ‘Sport’. We only got to try the car on the track, and in Sport mode the 'box almost always had the right gear by the time you were back on the gas coming out of a bend, though we would have chosen to change into lower gears earlier. Still, if you want to go quickly and concentrate on braking and steering rather than changing gear it’s pretty effective.

Super-Sport is the best choice for flat-out track work. The system always takes the engine to 7000rpm before changing up, which is just what you want on a circuit, though probably not on the road.

Again, it never selected the wrong gear, but we would still have downshifted a little earlier to benefit from engine-braking as you bear down on the next bend. And there are moments, if you leave the ASC (active stability control) part de-activated, when the system pauses for longer than you’d like if you pile slightly too fast into a bend and give it something to do.

But these are quibbles – as is the observation that there is no 'change up' warning light. Otherwise this system works superbly. It’s most entertaining of all when you do the shifting yourself. The excellent paddle design, quick shifts, eager engine an absolutely superb chassis and ultra-resilient brakes combining to provide a drive that’s nothing short of exhilarating.

It’s safe, too, this Lancer well-balanced, predictable and athletic enough to flatter its driver. And turning off the ASC altogether reveals a viceless chassis that does not rely on electronics for its fundamental performance.

Should I buy one?

Yes. Quite simply - this is the Evo to have, and not just because the manual provides only five speeds and is not completely fumble-proof.

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The whole thing gels so well, feels so much of the Playstation paddle-shift era and is so well sorted that it’s hard to imagine that you’ll ever miss the manual. Mitsubishi’s UK customers think so, too, with the SST counting for 70 per cent of the orders to date.

You can only have the Evo in comprehensively-kitted GSR trim with this transmission, but the £2000 extra it costs with the SST seems fair value given that you get at least two cars in one with this well-developed package.

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NBS 9 March 2008

Re: Mitsubishi Evo GSR SST

Why is SST only an option on the 300? Is there a reliabilty problem on higher powered versions?