The 2016 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X Final Edition is the last of its breed. It was conceived in 1992 as a road going version of Mitsubishi’s new World Rally Championship challenger. Evovling for over 20 years and cementing its legacy in Japan’s motorsport history. The Final Edition Evo is a compilation of all the technological achievements and design Mitsubishi has acquired from their rallying expertise over the years. There’s a lot of history behind this car and it’s pretty sad that this is the final one.
The formula remains the same since day one, 2.0 litre turbocharged power plant, mated to a beautiful-yet sophisticated (S-AWC) all-wheel drive system. Soon as the Evo X was released back in 2007, rumours rapidly circulated that it may be the last. Now, Mitsubishi is finally launching the Final Edition Evo X- ending its 8 year production. This Evo will be built in Japan with a limited 1000 units, a mere 150 of them will only be available in Australia, and I did not want to miss the opportunity of grabbing the final one, receiving my Starlight Final Evo last December 2015.
Based on the Japanese spec Evo X GSR platform it features a blend of GSR and MR bits. There’s only four colours available but I opted starlight colour which is nicely contrasted with its black roof and gold 18-inch BBS satin platinum alloy wheels with gold centre caps. Partial leather Recaro bucket front bucket seats with red Recaro logos embroidered can be found inside the cabin. There are also final edition logos at the rear in the centre console that shows the unique build number plate- mine being 89/150; which really does set the car apart form a normal Evo X. Due to its all-wheel drive system the curb weight is over 1500kg, Two-piece brake rotors with four piston Brembo calipers are located at the front and two piston calipers at the back brings this heavy vehicle to a halt.
The engine remains the same intercooled-turbocharged 2.0 litre DOHC inline four cylinder 4B11 engine but now comes with a remapped engine management system and sodium-filled exhaust valves- enhancing its cooling efficiency, permitting greater power outputs. A surge of power hits you at around 3500rpm and keeps on going until the 7000rpm redline. This updated engine produces 226kW at 6500 rpm and 414Nm at 3500rpm, a significant increase that exceeds the 2015 Subaru WRX STI power figures of 221kW/407Nm- making it the most powerful stock Evo engine produced in its 23 or so year history.
Transmission will only be available in Evo’s original old-school five-speed manual, given that the company stopped production of the highly- acclaimed Getrag-derived twin clutch six-speed SST transmission in early 2015. The five-speed feels adequate for most driving situations with its short and accurate throws. Honestly it could have benefited from a six-speed box, the Evo doesn’t feel like a slouch. In over 5 seconds, you’ll be breaking the law. Freeway driving is not the Evo’s forte, the tachometer sits at a staggering 2800rpm at freeway speeds. In exchange, its fuel economy numbers are not positive either, with the combined figure of 13.8l/100km its almost equivalent to a V8, combining that to a 55 litre fuel tank you won’t get far either; unless you drive sensibly which is hard to do when you’re on this car.
Servicing this car is quite bothersome, with its 5,000kms servicing intervals perhaps due to its sophisticated all-wheel drive system. This is far-cry from today’s 10,000kms or so servicing intervals. Thankfully because this vehicle is a Mitsubishi, expect the servicing cost to be in the cheap side.
I found that the interior design hasn’t aged well, it still looks the same since it came out in 2007 which is a little bit disappointing, considering what other models in this price range can offer. Also the leather-wrapped steering wheel doesn’t have a telescoping function which can be difficult for people taller than me to find a comfortable driving position. Nevertheless the Final edition offers a black headliner, leather wrapped steering wheel, gear knob, hand brake and partial leather Recaro bucket seats with red stitching to spruce things up a bit.
While most of the competition are focusing more on their in-car entertainment systems and adding more features. To combat this, the Final Evo offers a rear view camera, bluetooth audio streaming, hands-free telephone and voice command ability. However it falls behind by having to do with a terrible infotainment system with mediocre sound quality from its six-speaker stereo. The dashboard is covered with hard plastics, which is contrasted with a piano black finish trim that flows across the front cabin facia.
More importantly, the interior of the Evo X is more pleasant to be in compared to the older models. I find it simple, not riddled with small buttons and switches that you usually find in a modern car. Just 3 knobs for the single-zone climate control, an intercooler spray button and an AWC mode button- that selects tarmac, gravel or snow. The interior quality was never the Evo’s main attraction, it’s the performance that it delivers.
Throw it in a corner and it will never fail to impress, always forcing a grin on my face. It is unfathomable that this design employs a pre-2007 technology and no doubt still remains one of the fastest cornering cars on the planet. It gets its 226kW of power down the tarmac through one world’s most sophisticated-yet effective all-wheel-drive system, Mitsubishi’s Super All Wheel Control. This is where it “all” happens, milliseconds at a time a trick Super AYC (Active Yaw Control), ACD (Active Centre Differential), ASC (Active Stability Control) and Sport ABS all working together. Allowing full torque control of each wheel where it’s needed- maximizing the Evo’s cornering ability and stability in any road conditions.
But hey, this is a car that defines the term “rally car on the road”, it might not have the greatest fuel economy figures, luxury in-car features and interior design but it is one of the greatest drives one man or woman can ever dream of. Find a deserted country road and you’re in driving nirvana. It strives to be driven hard, the confidence of its drivetrain is compelling and there’s just so much grip! It understeers a notch at its limit of adhesion but the S-AWC system quickly snaps into action and activates the back end into place within a blink of an eye.
Actually, this Evo has its Bilstein and Eibach suspension damping settings changed to give the it a more compliant ride for day to day driving, in comparison to the normal Evo X. The ride comfort of this car is still quite harsh in Melbourne roads but bearable. It’s fair to say that they have done a remarkable job, as previous Evo’s were notorious for having a bone-shattering ride, more like riding a race car on the road. I didn’t expect Mercedes quality ride from an Evo because that’s just not how this car works.
It is unconceivable for a car manufacturer to axe, the most celebrated halo car model in its fleet line-up. Because recent demand on all-wheel-drive, turbocharged sedan or a hatchback is on the rise with the likes of the all-new Ford Focus RS, Mercedes A45 AMG, Audi S3, and the Evo’s arch-rival Subaru WRX STI. The segment is now exciting and the competition is as tough as ever. Mitsubishi’s decision to discontinue the Lancer Evolution couldn’t have come in a bad timing.
It would have been great if we embraced 2016 with an all-new Lancer Evo XI, anticipate its potential in performance and design; how that would compare to some of its competition. Sadly it is not going to happen. All good things must come to an end one day and for Mitsubishi it is the Lancer derived Evolution.
In my opinion, high powered turbo engines such as the Evo X’s 4B11 engine just won’t cut it without a massive overhaul in design; with the ever more stringent CO2 emission requirements in Europe and all other parts of the world. Meaning a lot of investment in time and money which unfortunately Mitsubishi doesn’t have at this moment in time.
I don’t think that the “Evolution” name will be gone forever, it might be born again in the near future, probably in an Outlander or any other Mitsubishi SUV; it will never be the same as the Lancer sedan Evolution.
It is such a wonderful and memorable car, I feel so lucky to own a piece of automotive history. Do yourself a favour, if you have a friend that happens to own an Evo ask him/her if you can take it for a quick spin, it will be an unforgettable drive.