2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X first steer
– David Twomey
A supercar for the masses – well with Mitsubishi’s Lancer Evolution X it comes about as close to that as you are ever likely to get – this is one brilliant motor car that we believe excites from the moment you clap eyes on it.
From the purposeful stance to the throaty note when you fire the engine, the Evo X – Mitsubishi’s 10th iteration of its rally-bred performance car – is something special.
Not that its humbler origins aren’t apparent in the neatly designed but still a bit too plastic interior that cannot be disguised by the leather and cloth Recaro seats.
But let’s cut to the chase, fire the 2.0-litre, twin cam, four-cylinder engine with its twin-scroll turbocharger that generates an impressive 217kW of power at 6500rpm and 366Nm of torque at 3500rpm, slip the gear lever into first and if you’re lucky enough to have the all-new Twin Clutch Sport Shift Transmission (official acronym TC-SST) at your disposal, simply nail the throttle pedal and hang on – because all hell is about to break loose.
With everything in the right setting performance is quite literally shattering, Mitsubishi is coy about 0-100km/h times but we believe they’ve recorded something close to 5.6 seconds and we also believe that under optimum conditions this car could go close to or under the 5.0sec mark.
Stopping is equally improved with huge Brembo brakes front and rear. Both the Lancer Evolution and MR models employ the same size rotors (350mm diameter in front and 330mm diameter in the rear), and the MR uses new two-piece rotor construction to reduce weight. Both use four-piston callipers in front and two-piston callipers in the rear.
There is so much in this car that is new, innovative or just a little bit exotic – like the aluminium roof, bonnet and front guards – that it’s hard to know where to start.
Something that’s immediately apparent is the change in the ride and handling, not in any bad way, the car rides firmly but with a civilised degree of control that means you can cruise around town without needing to see a chiropractor when you step out of the car.
At the same time the degree of electronic sophistication that’s been introduced means that at or near the limit you truly feel like the race or rally ace of your dreams as you hound the car through corners at speeds you would not believe possible.
In large part it’s all down to a set of electronics that go under the general name of Super All Wheel Control (SAWC) that integrates a network of dynamic handling technologies, including: Active Centre Differential (ACD), Active Yaw Control (AYC) rear differential, Active Stability Control (ASC), and Sport ABS brakes. There are also three selectable levels, depending on conditions, of Tarmac, Gravel and Snow.
As we’ve already mentioned there’s also the double clutch TC-SST gearbox which offers rapid-fire sequential changes up and down the six-speed unit, using either steering wheel paddles or the centre gearshift lever. Around town you can simply leave it in D, like any automatic gearbox, and let the electronics do the work.
Made in Germany by Getrag the gearbox is able to double down shift and down changes are governed by brake application. Essentially, the TC-SST is a manual transmission that can select two gears at a time: one gear is engaged by one of the two wet multi-plate clutches, and the other is pre-selected, waiting to be engaged by the second wet multi-plate clutch.
TC-SST has three shift modes; Normal (that’s pretty obvious), Sport (for faster road driving) and Super Sport (really only suited to race track or motor sport use).
How good is it, well on some extremely spirited mountain roads we found it could handle race-style up and down shifts taken to the redline without any concerns.
Power delivery is incredible and the quickness of the shifts has to be experienced to be believed.
We also drove the five-speed manual on Winton Race Track and have to say that initial experiences would indicate this is a better unit for race-track use.
However, once we became more familiar with the TC-SST gearbox we can understand why Mitsubishi PR man Rob Chadwick reckons that a lot of motor sport users will switch to the twin clutch gearbox.
The new higher-torque-capacity 5-speed manual transmission is standard on the Evolution X, which is priced at $59,490.
Adding the TC-SST gearbox is another $5000 and there’s also a Performance Pack, which picks the best bits out of the MR spec car (Eibach springs, Bilstein dampers, two piece Brembo brakes and BBS 18-inch alloy wheels) for another $5500.
The MR, which comes standard with a range of extra goodies, including part-leather upholstery and a touch screen in the centre of the dash that includes satellite navigation, will set you back a handsome $71,690.
But you do get quite a lot for your money in this, the fourth-generation of the Evo, which is bigger, roomier, more comfortable and definitely quicker and faster than any of those that have gone before.
The chassis of the Lancer Evolution is reinforced with additional welding and supports, including strut tower braces and a V strut behind the rear seats. The suspension is also reinforced and based around a strut front end and multi-link rear system.
Having driven the Evolution X, mostly MR models, on both the race track and on the road we can say that this is one very fast, very exciting car to drive that elevates relatively mundane transport close to the level of supercars.
It has few competitors in terms of grip and drive, let alone engine performance, and offers blistering acceleration, especially when coupled with the rapid-fire shifting of the TC-SST gearbox.
The level of grip generated by the variable all-wheel drive system is enormous, even in the driving rain conditions while we were on the track, and in the dry it is staggering.
The Evolution X has impressive brake, razor sharp steering and the rework of the suspension has made a hard riding performance car into a rocket quick performance car that now offers a new-found level of ride, handling and comfort – while sacrificing nothing of what it had before.
There just remains one final question – is it better than its nemesis the Subaru WRX STi?
Well, you can bet that we will be putting them together to answer the challenge, but in my opinion the Evolution X runs rings around the WRX STi – not just because of the twin clutch gearbox but it handles and rides better – and it looks better too.
Evolution X will be on sale at the end of this month through Mitsubishi’s 80 Ralliart dealers.
Click through for Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X specifications & pricing.
Click through for Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X gallery.
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X specifications & pricing
Full specifications below:
|All Wheel Drive||X||X||X|
|2.0L MIVEC Intercooled and Turbocharged||X||X||X|
|217 kW power @ 6500 rpm||X||X||X|
|366 Nm torque @ 3500 rpm||X||X||X|
|Front helical LSD||X||X||X|
|Manual intercooled water spray system||X||X||–|
|5 speed manual||X||–|
|Twin Clutch Sport Shift Transmission (with Paddle Shifters)||–||X||X|
|SUPER ALL WHEEL CONTROL|
|Active Centre Differential||X||X||X|
|Super Active Yaw Control||X||X||X|
|Anti-lock Braking System (with EBD)||X||X||X|
|Active Stability Control||X||X||X|
|Bilstein front and rear shock absorbers||–||–||X|
|Eibach front and rear springs||–||–||X|
|Front and rear stabiliser bar||X||X||X|
|Front strut tower bar||X||X||X|
|Brembo Front 18″, 4 piston caliper||X||X||X|
|Brembo Rear 17″, 2 piston caliper||X||X||X|
|Brembo Front 2 piece type||–||–||X|
|AM/FM 6 stacker CD audio with steering wheel remote control||X||X||–|
|Rockford Fosgate premium audio system||–||–||X|
|Mitsubishi Multi Communication System||–||–||X|
|WHEELS AND TYRES|
|ENKEI 18″ alloy wheels||X||X||–|
|BBS 18″ forged alloy wheels||–||–||X|
|Tyre repair kit||X||X||X|
|Colour coded front aero bumper||X||X||X|
|Colour coded rear bumper||X||X||X|
|Large side air dam||X||X||X|
|Aluminium large rear spoiler||X||X||X|
|Dual chrome exhaust tips||X||X||X|
|Front fog lamps||X||X||X|
|HID headlamps with AFS and headlamp washer||–||–||X|
|Auto headlamp levelling||–||–||X|
|Day/night rear view mirror||X||X||X|
|Cloth seat trim||X||X||X|
|Sports type leather wrapped steering wheel||X||X||X|
|Leather wrapped gearshift knob||X||X||X|
|Accessory socket in console||X||X||X|
|Key ignition lamp and reminder buzzer||X||X||X|
|High contrast meter||X||X||X|
|Multi information display||X||X||X|
|Leather combination seat trim||–||–||X|
|Heated front seats||–||–||X|
|The Safety Body: “RISE” Body (Realised Impact Safety Evolution)||X||X||X|
|Driver & Passenger Front Air Bag||X||X||X|
|Side and curtain airbags||X||X||X|
|Driver’s side knee airbag||X||X||X|
|High Mount Stop Lamp||X||X||X|
|Child restraint x3||X||X||X|
|Tilt adjustable steering column||X||X||X|
|Electric power windows||X||X||X|
|Central door locking system||X||X||X|
|Integrated data dot and advanced security system||X||X||X|
|Front map lamps||X||X||X|
|Rear room lamp||X||X||X|
|Boot room lamp||X||X||X|
|Automatic dusk sensing headlamps||X||X||X|
|Automatic rain sensing wipers||X||X||X|
|Cruise control with steering wheel controls||X||X||X|
|Smart key keyless entry (2 transmitters)||X||X||X|
|Automatic climate control air-conditioning||X||X||X|
|Console mounted ACD switch||X||X||X|
|Hands free blue tooth connectivity with steering wheel audio controls||X||X||X|
|RECARO full bucket front seats with slide and recline function||X||X||X|
|Low-back type fabric rear seat with height adjustable headrests x3||X||X||X|
|Rear centre arm rest with cup holders X2||X||X||X|