While we were all standing patiently at the Mitsubishi stand getting ready for the unveiling of the all-new 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X yesterday, it was a hard choice deciding which colour we should buy.
Mitsubishi's world unveiling was really nothing more than a formality, photos and details of the car had been circulating online for over a year and the production version looked almost identical to the concepts, which is fantastic.
The Evo X is undeniably the best looking Rally-King yet, and with Subaru's new STi being outcasted for its looks, the Evo should prove to be Mitsubishi's most successful halo car yet.
Unlike Subaru which has disowned its current demographic with the newly released WRX, Mitsubishi has not deviated from the Evo's race-like credentials.
“The 2008 Lancer Evolution remains true to the core values of previous Evolution models by providing the pinnacle of performance driving with incredible flexibility and grip and refined handling and dynamics,” Mitsubishi boss Robert McEniry said.
The car is offered in two variants, the standard Evo X and the Evo X MR which gets Mitsubishi's highly-anticipated twin-clutch DSG style gearbox and suspension enhancements as standard.From the front, the untrained eye would be hard pressed picking a Lancer VRX from the Evo X (which should help Lancer sales considerably). To Mitsu's credit, the entire Lancer range is blessed with agressive styling thanks to a shark-nosed front end.
However the new Evo takes everything to a new level. From every angle you look at it, the car demands attention. With enormous rally and street cred, the Evo encapsulates what every rally fan wants in a car.
While its arch nemesis - WRX STi - will be using a 2.5-litre turbo engine, the new Evo uses Mitsubishi's 4B11 engine, which is an intercooled-turbocharged 2.0-litre DOHC inline four-cylinder and Mitsubishi is quick to point out, it's vastly different from the legendary 4G63 it replaces.
The 4B11 is built with a reinforced cast-aluminum cylinder block versus the cast-iron block used in the 4G63, and aluminum is also used for the cylinder head and cover and the timing chain case. Unlike the 4G63, the 4B11 does not use a balancer shaft, made possible by the new engine’s inherently lower noise and vibration and use of hydraulic engine mounts.
Additionally, the use of a direct-acting valvetrain as oppose to the roller rocker arm configuration helps reduce weight. A timing chain replaces the belt, and MIVEC variable valve timing is used on both the intake and exhaust camshafts (the most recent 4G63 had MIVEC on the intake only). There is currently no official kW rating but Mitsubishi says the engine will develop at least 422Nm of torque.
The rear-located (firewall side) stainless steel exhaust manifold helps improve weight distribution, and the freer-breathing exhaust system features a larger-volume main muffler with dual tailpipe outlets.
The base model GSR rides on 18 x 8.5-inch Enkei cast-alloy wheels while the MR gets and BBS® forged-alloys. Both the MR and GSR models employ the same size rotors, and the MR uses new two-piece rotor construction to reduce weight. Both models use four-piston calipers in front and two-piston calipers in the rear. The MR also receives additional interior features.
The engine aside, the reason you should buy the Mitsu over the Subaru (apart from the looks) is the six-speed Twin-Clutch Sportronic Shift Transmission (TC-SST), better known to VolksWagen drivers as DSG.
Optional on the entry model Evo X, and standard on the up-scale MR variant, the TC-SST is an automated manual transmission capable of executing lightning-quick upshifts with no drop-off in engine power.
Like the DSG system found in the Volkswagen and Audi range, the TC-SST features both a console-mounted shifter and magnesium steering wheel paddle shifters and offers manual and fully automatic modes.
For those of you thinking, there is nothing like a manual gearbox, think again because the TC-SST is essentially 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 clutch. So no matter how good of a gear shifter you think you are, this is better.
What that means is instant gear changes occur – either manually or automatically depending on mode selected – when the electro-hydraulically operated clutches are “swapped,” which occurs simultaneously, with no perceptible lag time.
The twin-clutch gearbox offers three drive modes
- Normal - easy driving
- Sport - higher shift points (in Automatic) and quicker shifting to deliver instant throttle response for better performance feel. Sport mode is also useful for driving in mountainous areas or when engine braking is required
- S-Sport – The S-Sport mode can be selected for performance driving situations, such as track events.
If that hasn't convinced you the Evo X is another step in front of its traditional rival, we'll keep trying.
Using Mitsubishi's latest Super-All Wheel Control (S-AWC) system, like previous the Evos, the X will defy the laws of physics.
The S-AWC system works by controlling drive torque at each wheel by managing a network of dynamic handling technologies, including:
- Active Center Differential (ACD) four-wheel drive,
- Active Yaw Control (AYC) rear differential,
- Active Stability Control (ASC),
- Sports ABS brakes.
The biggest change over the Evo X is the integration of ASC which Mitsubishi says will provide a significant advance in both dynamic capability and safety.The ACD splits torque up to 50:50 between the front and rear wheels using an electronically controlled hydraulic multi-plate clutch. With input from the S-AWC computer, ACD regulates the differential limiting action to optimize the front/rear wheel torque split.
Using input such as steering wheel angle, throttle opening, wheel speeds, and the vehicle’s longitudinal and lateral movements, the Japanese computers inside the Evo can determine the vehicle’s path of travel allowing for correction and stabilisation when needed.
Like the Evo IX, the new car also offers the ability to select road surface, choices include Tarmac, Gravel and Snow.
Technical gadgets aside, you can't have an awesome car without an awesome chassis, and Mitsubishi have built yet another class-leading body. Before even considering the Evo X, its important to point out that the new base model Lancers (using the global C-platform) have a stiffer body than the Evo IX!
On top of the standard Lancer, the Evo gains optimised chassis systems, wider use of aluminum for the engine, body, and chassis components, as well as greater use of high-tensile steel.
The roof, bonnet, front bumpers and both the front and rear bumper beams are aluminum. For better weight distribution, the vehicle battery and the windshield washer fluid tank have been moved to the boot area.
The Evo X comes with its own unique suspension system, including inverted struts in front and a rear multi-link configuration. Race-proven forged aluminum components reduce unsprung weight.
Set for release later than originally anticipated, April 2008 should see the legend return and take its place in Mitsubishi’s local line-up. Pricing is still a mystery, however Mitsubishi insiders have told CarAdvice to expect a minor 2-3% price hike for the entry model, no pricing details are available for the MR variant yet.