What happens when you take a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X, add 30 kW and 70 Nm of additional torque, lower it, improve its suspension and give it a meaner look? You get the Team Mitsubishi Ralliart (TMR) Bathurst Edition Lancer Evolution.
The original Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution has long been one of the best 'affordable' sports cars thanks to its brilliant handling, great looks and street credibility.
Much like its main rival, the Subaru Impreza WRX STI, the EVOs are bought by car fans that adore motor-sports. By those that admire a car for its ability to conquer corners at ferocious speeds and do it with technical brilliance. It's also bought by those that want to improve on the existing package.
The modification business comes in all forms and sizes from minor brake upgrades to new turbos, intercoolers, fuel pumps and much more. In the case of the TMR EVO X, it's a complete repackaging of a brand new car, sold new with full warranty.
The idea is simple, if you're buying a new EVO X you can let the dealer know and they will perform the ECU and performance part upgrades and give it back to you with a lot more oomph. If you already own one, it can be done just as easily (willing you're able to part with your car for a few days).
The reason there are no photos of the actual test car in this review is because my evaluation vehicle looked nearly identical to a standard EVO X from the outside. The test car simply had the updated exhaust system and engine retune.
An extra 30 kW and 70 Nm of torque may not sound like a lot, but coupled with the EVO X's SST dual-clutch sport transmission, it's one hell of a ride.
I won't bore you with more technical details of the Evolution X, you can read my previous review of that here. Therefore I want to discuss the feel of a tuned up EVO X.
Owning a modified Subaru Impreza WRX has given me a great deal of insight into the world of car modifications (you can see my car on track here).
Having now spent almost $20,000 on modifications alone, I can assure you that getting a car 'pre-tuned' from factory is a significantly wiser option than doing little bits here and there over a long period of time. As I write this, there are spare turbos, intercoolers, exhaust manifolds, fuel systems and whatever else you can think of just sitting around my garage. Not exactly a very cost effective way to modify your car.
From the outside the Lancer Evolution X TMR Bathurst Edition is differentiated from the standard EVO with a lower ride, powder coated wheels and limited edition Bathurst badges. From the inside, there is a unique build number on the dashboard and that pretty much sums it up.
Everything else except the Recaro seats is typical Mitsubishi Lancer. That means a cheap hard plastic interior, uninspiring dashboard design, basic stereo system and not even the slightest sign that this car is special.
Compared to similarly priced performance cars such as the new Volkswagen Golf R, the EVO is lucky it can go and corner so damn well because it hasn't got much else going for it.
Then again, if you're buying an EVO you're not buying it because of its brilliant interior design, its comfortable steering wheel, its soft touch plastics or anything else luxurious. All you're doing is buying a car capable of keeping up with supercars around a race track for a fraction of their price. And there is nothing wrong with that.
As a Mitsubishi employee once told me, when they hand the Lancers over to the Evolution build team, they don't bother with the interior as it's all about performance. And it shows.
If you've never driven an AWD Turbocharged Japanese car, it must be on your list of things to do before you die. Get yourself behind the wheel of a standard Evolution X (or IX) and take it up a twisty stretch of mountain road. Push harder and harder into each corner and just admire the enormous level of grip, superior handling and on-tap power delivery.
If you've got the basics of driving right, cars like EVOs and STIs can conquer corners at speeds that most normal drivers would deem suicidal. And there, on the edge of madness will you find their appeal.
They are everyday cars turned into weapons of mass destruction. It's always fun watching Japanese cars lapping race tracks faster than European supercars. You can say it's driver dependent but either way, if the aim is to buy a car to track, I can't think of anything better than the EVO X. Wait. Yes I can, the EVO X TMR Bathurst Edition. Alas, it was time for a drive.
The keys were handed over to a white 'stock' looking Evolution X SST. Formalities were done and I quickly drove out of Mitsubishi's garage in Brisbane's West End. But this wasn't just a Bathurst Edition EVO X, apparently it was the tune 'above', which meant it had 270kW and over 450Nm of torque (but still the same suspension and exhaust system as the Bathurst). Madness.
TMR boss Alan Heaphy believes the EVO X's 4B11 motor can be pushed all the way to 320kW! Anyway, 270kW is enough for now.
A quick left turn on to Montague road and without any hesitation I flattened the accelerator in second gear... a demonic scream of anger erupts from the back - heard by all around. "Holy ##$%" I said out loud. And then again... and again.
It takes a very special car to make me smile these days and the TMR tuned EVO X managed to do that from the very first moment.
It's not so much how fast it accelerates, but how it sounds and feels as it accelerates. Using the SST in manual mode means selecting gears using the paddle shifters, this proved to be so much fun that I drove around in the EVO for a good 3 hours for no good reason before stopping.
By the time the accelerator has hit the floor the engine is already reaching its rev limit, but that's okay, let it hit the rev limiter because mixed in with the car's unbelievably loud exhaust, the two sounds combined form an orchestral piece of motoring beauty.
Additionally, given how hard the damn thing accelerates, you're going to hit the rev limited rather often - so it's best to get use to it.
Select first gear. Look left, look right. Begin launch control procedures. Hold the revs and drop all power and torque to all four wheels. Feel the sound of mechanical torture as the Lancer turns into a monster.
Accelerate hard, don't smile, there is no time. Go to pick second as the revs pass 6,000 RPM, before the gearbox has a chance to obey your command the rev limiter kicks in, then instantly into second, sudden shove back into the seat, turn the corner at maximum speed, keep your foot flat on the pedal, don't lift off. 4,000 RPM... 5,000 RPM, the wildlife start to disappear, the clouds get darker, the trees look down on you with hatred, go to grab third, rev limiter kicks in. I hope my girlfriend isn't reading this because driving this feels better than sex.
The bystanders will no doubt stare. Not that it should matter because if Satan needed a fast getaway car, this would be it.
Forget the stereotyping as the deafening sound and superb acceleration is worth it. This car screams with so much enthusiasm you can't help but to fall madly in love with it instantly.
As far as handling goes the Bathurst Edition has a firmer ride, which means you can really feel the bumps over rough roads and bad surfaces. Nonetheless, it also means it sticks to the road without any respect for the laws of physics, even more so than the standard car.
Subaru STI fanatics need to take a hard look at this car. The EVO was never known to sound good, in fact that's where the boxer engine has always had it over the Mitsus. How times have changed.
If you're wondering "is it worth it?" then ask yourself this. If you're one of those people that can't leave your brand-spanking new car unmodified, are you willing to spend the time and effort required in to getting work done to it outside of factory? I was one of those people, but these days I would much prefer to pay a little extra and get all the tuning done from factory with warranty and save my self the time and hassle.
I went through three tanks of fuel in my one week with this madly tuned EVO X, but even if premium unleaded ever hits $2/L, the joy of driving this is worth every cent.
If you're after a proper sports car (for about $80,000) that can scare the living daylights out of you, your passengers and innocent bystanders, then this is it. Taking into account that interior quality, fuel economy and a comfortable ride means nothing to you.
For a review on the Original EVO X click here