Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX
review

2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX Road Test

$19,990 Mrlp
  • Fuel Economy
    N/A
  • Engine Power
    65kW
  • CO2 Emissions
    N/A
  • ANCAP Rating
    N/A
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I don’t even know where to begin with the new Mitsubishi Evolution IX. It’s a car that takes the laws of Physics and simply throws them out the window. With every corner you take, it simply mocks the hard work of Sir Isaac Newton and proves that even cars that look like taxis can turn more heads than John Howard rallying at an ‘Against War Protest’.

Aesthetically, not much has changed with the new Mitsubishi Evolution IX. It’s only when you dig the right foot in that you notice the difference. The Evolution IX is still powered by a 2.0ltr 16-valve turbocharged 4cyl engine and carries a $60,000 price tag. What has changed is the power output; the engine now produces 206kW at 6,500RPM and 355Nm of Torque at 3,500RPM, that’s around 10kW more than the Evolution VIII.

Right after you enter the driver’s seat, you feel like you’re in the perfect position to tackle the task ahead. The Recaro full bucket race seats wrap around you and ensure that your body doesn’t move an inch when powering through the bends. The seats are fitted with ‘Alcantara’ suede upholstery and leather bolsters, ensuring a tight and comfy seating arrangement.

After arranging your seat, you are greeted with a Momo racing wheel that is perfectly sculpted and shaped to provide you with the ultimate driving experience. The steering is near perfection, the steering ratio is fantastic and ensures that minimal hand movement is required when powering through bends. As with the Evo VIII the turning circle is total rubbish. A 3-point turn soon becomes a 10-point manoeuvre due to the shockingly wide 11.8m turning circle.

The whiney and seemingly girly engine note still exists; one thing that the Evo lacks is a decent engine note (something that Mr STI seems to have down to a tee). But, one thing that is certainly an improvement is the markedly louder turbo spool. At WOT (Wide Open Throttle) in the spooling range, you can really hear the Evo’s turbocharger hard at work. Our test vehicle was fitted with the ‘Performance Pack’ which adds BBS Allow Wheels (1.1Kg lighter each, making a total weight reduction of 4.4Kg) and Bilstein shock absorbers, making for an even sportier ride.

One of the other additions to the Evolution IX is the 6-speed manual transmission. It feels even tighter and firmer than the 5-speed offered in the Evo VIII. Snapping the gear stick through the gears is a task that has been made much easier with less spacing between gears. The sixth gear also brings the revs down to around 2300RPM at 100km/h. The gear stick lever needs to be lifted to grab reverse, due to the gearing configuration.

The test vehicle provided by Mitsubishi was fitted with Pirelli PZERO Rosso tyres. They were absolute rubbish and didn’t suit the car whatsoever. The Evo VIII I drove last year had a set of Bridgestone tyres fitted and they were exceptional, didn’t emit any noise when going hard through bends and made it nearly impossible to lose traction without it being entirely intended. The Pirelli tyres on the other hand squealed like a bunch of pre-teens at a Shannon Noll concert. They also managed to lose traction a whole lot easier, making a brisk corner feel like a D1 drifting contest.

Traffic light duels are also quickly taken care of. The Evo made light work of several ‘sik’ VL Commodores, earlier model WRX STIs and most satisfying of all; stock Mitsubishi Lancers with wings that belong to the Boeing aero-engineering department.

It’s undeniable that the Evolution IX is a people magnet. I don’t think I have ever had so many people looking at me whilst driving the Evo. On one occasion after pulling into a waterfront car park, we managed to gain the company of 4 other Lancers and a swag of interested performance enthusiasts who couldn’t believe their eyes! A real Evo; not just a stock Mitsubishi Lancer with more rice than an Asian food-court. Who would have thought?

It’s hard to explain just how good the Evolution IX is at taking corners with such little fuss. You can enter corners with speeds that I wouldn’t even recommend to my worst enemy. You go into the corners knowing that you may need to take evasive action because of too much speed. You then exit the corner wondering how on earth you actually made it through without breaking traction or even needing to lift off. The Evo carries such grace and raw ability that never ceases to amaze me.

The ACD (Active Centre Differential), coupled with SAYC (Super Active Yaw Control) allows you to activate one of three different modes. Tarmac, Gravel or Snow. Once that button switches to Gravel and you enter a gravel road, you begin to have fun and lots of it. Step the car out sideways and the ACD and SAYC manage to shuffle power around the four wheels to simply negate any mischief that the driver may have entered into. And best of all, you don’t get warning lights and aggravating buzzers when you have dropped the car out totally sideways (unless of course they are red and blue lights…).

‘Diamond Trac’ has been implemented to further deter thieves. Diamond Trac uses satellite positioning (GPS) and mobile phone technology (GSM) to track your vehicle. If your Evo is stolen, Diamond Trac can liaise with the Police to track your vehicle’s whereabouts and apprehend the thieves that have stolen it. The Diamond Trac unit is located to the right of the driver’s head and allows the driver to operate the unit via 3 buttons.

Diamond Trac also allows you to ‘geolock’ your Evo. It adds a virtual barrier around your car. The moment it leaves this perimeter, you are notified via SMS and have the option of either alerting the Police - and/or the Diamond Trac staff - or to obtain the current location of your vehicle. Datadots are also used in the Evo to make stealing/selling parts far less attractive. Here is a quick description of Datadots from the manufacturer’s website:

“Datadots consists of tiny discs, about the size of a grain of sand, each laser-etched with multiple lines of code. The code is unique for each vehicle. The code is stored on our worldwide verification database DataBaseDNA. In some instances the Datadot simply carries the ‘primary identifier’ issued by the manufacturer of the asset – for example Datadots can carry the full Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) as issued by the car manufacturer.

Datadots can simply be brushed on to assets, and stay there for the life of the asset. For larger assets, such as motor vehicles, the Datadot can be sprayed on. DataDot Technology Ltd has patented its own innovative spray process, which can now spray a complete car in less than 60 seconds. A car can be fitted with 1,000 to 10,000 Datadots per vehicle, most often applied at the place of assembly, importation facility, or in the aftermarket through dealers.

The Datadots can be detected with a UV light, and their laser-etched code read with a simple magnifying device – no complicated forensic investigation is needed.

Datadots are most widely used to protect motor vehicles, motor cycles, trailers, marine craft, business and personal assets.” (Source: http://www.datadotdna.com)

The Mitsubishi Evolution IX is no Toyota Prius, our fuel consumption figure averaged out to around 15L/100Km but, when you look at it, you get V8 topping performance and handling that is unimaginable, and all for a great price. The fuel consumption figure is something that’s easy to live with once you assess the level of performance you get in return.

Conclusion –

I had a great deal of trouble handing the keys back to Mitsubishi. The Evo was such an awesome car to drive and managed to attach a ridiculously large smile to my face with every application of the accelerator.

It’s certainly not hard to see why people buy these cars; they demolish corners and get to speed in no time flat. They may not look like proper sports cars but, they gain attention with no effort whatsoever.

If you haven’t had the chance to drive an Evo yet, do yourself a favour and give it a shot. It’s only then that you will realise just how insanely fast they are. If I had the money, I would buy one in a heart beat.

- by Paul Maric

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