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Car reviews - Mitsubishi - Lancer - Evolution X sedan

The Car

24 Oct 2008

MITSUBISHI Australia has launched the stunning Lancer Evolution, which is effectively an advanced race car that can be driven on the road.

Officially, it might be called the Evolution, but Lancer fans will know it as the Evo X, the tenth iteration of the rally-bred cult car.

When it comes to platforms, the new Evolution is the third generation Evo and features a larger footprint, upgraded engine and even more advanced drivetrain.

Pricing starts at $59,490 for the base model with a manual gearbox, while choosing the new dual-clutch automatic adds a hefty $5000 and a performance pack with wheel, suspension and brake upgrades is also available for $5000.

The fully loaded MR model, which comes only with an auto, is priced at $71,690.

Pricing of the base Evo and one fitted with the performance pack line-up directly against the Subaru WRX STI at $59,990 and the WRX Spec R at $64,990.

Crucially, there is no automatic option for the STI and no luxury model like the MR.

Mitsubishi started from the ground up with the new Evolution, giving it what was regarded as the ideal track and wheelbase for a rally car. Both the track and wheelbase have been increased by 30mm over the previous model.

While it may look similar to other Lancer models, the only common panels are the doors and the boot.

To keep weight down, it runs an aluminium roof, bonnet and front guards as well as new aluminium bumper rails that replace steel ones. The guards are pumped out to account for the wider track, the roof has two spines running down either side and the bonnet has a cooling duct and vents.

The Evolution also features new front and rear body bracing, resulting in a torsional rigidity improvement of 39 per cent.

Mitsubishi was free to increase the Evo’s performance now that the Japanese car-makers have dropped their gentleman’s agreement to publicly limit power outputs to 206kW.

The new 2.0-litre engine produces 217kW of power at 6500rpm and 366Nm of torque at 3500rpm, an increase of 11kW and 11Nm.

The powerplant is still a turbocharged in-line four-cylinder mounted transversely and running a front-mounted intercooler, but Mitsubishi has replaced the previous cast iron block with an aluminium one that is 12kg lighter and fitted a freer-flowing exhaust system that helps performance and creates a sportier sound.

It now also has variable valve timing for the intake and exhaust camshaft, which helps widen the powerband. For example, at 2000rpm there is 50Nm more torque available compared to the previous model.

Mitsubishi did not provide an official 0-100km/h sprint time, but internal figures suggest a time of 5.7 seconds for the manual, with the dual-clutch auto being slightly slower.

While fuel consumption is unlikely to be a large factor for Evolution customers, the official combined figure has remained at 10.2L/100km for the manual and increases to 10.5L/100km for the manual.

The Evolution requires 98 RON premium unleaded, although it can run short distances on 95 RON premium if required.

The standard transmission is now a five-speed manual instead of the six-speed of the previous model, but Mitsubishi denies this is a backwards step and says the extra torque of the engine makes up for one less cog. It went for the five-speed as it could handle the increased output of the engine.

The automatic option, called Twin Clutch Sports Shift Transmission (TC-SST) is similar to the Volkswagen DSG. It has two clutches and pre-emptively engages the next gear to enable faster changes.

There are three shift modes – Normal, Sport or Super Sport – and the driver can leave the transmission in automatic mode or choose to shift manually with the lever or with paddles behind the steering wheel.

Sport mode means the shifts are faster and the gearbox more likely to hold onto gears, while the Super Sport mode is even more aggressive. Both blip the throttle on downchanges, but the note is more noticeable in Super Sport mode.

Interestingly, Mitsubishi insiders hint that the new Evolution fitted with the TC-SST automatic is pre-wired with a launch control system, but the company doesn’t want to talk about it publicly as it is concerned about potential component damage through over-use.

As a result, it won’t say how owners can engage the system, but we’re sure they will find out soon enough.

Both Evo models run Brembo brakes as standard, with ventilated brake discs that are 30mm larger and use four-piston calipers at the front and two-piston calipers at the rear, but the MR model and the performance pack cars feature a high-performance two-piece front disc that is also 1.3kg lighter per disc.

Suspension is largely the same as before, using a MacPherson type front and multi-link rear, but has been tuned to suit the widened track and bigger 18-inch wheels (Enkei on the base model). The rear stabiliser bar is thicker for a better roll profile and new springs allow for greater wheel travel over rough surfaces.

MR and performance pack models use Bilstein shock absorbers and Eibach springs, which are set up for a firmer ride, and ride on lighter forged BBS alloy wheels.

The Evo continues with its Super All Wheel Drive Control system, with a helical front limited slip differential that manages power across the front axle, an electronically controlled centre differential that manages the power split between the front and rear axles, and an active yaw control feature that manages the power split across the rear axles.

None of this has changed, but the electronic stability control system – which can now be switched off at the touch of a button – adds individual wheel braking and an engine management feature to attempt to right a slide.

As was the case before, the S-AWDC system can perform in three modes – tarmac, gravel and snow – to distribute the power in different ways.

The weight of the Evolution has increased by around 90kg to a total of 1565kg for the standard car and 1625kg for the MR. The TC-SST auto adds another 30kg over the manual.

While some of the extra bulk can be attributed to its larger size, loading it up with more equipment has no doubt had an impact on the scales.

Mitsubishi admits the previous Evos looked as ‘bare as the base model’ inside and went about adding some features that are expected of a car at this price.

The standard Evo comes standard with body hugging Recaro sports seats, automatic climate control, keyless entry (which allows the driver to get in and start the car without taking the key from their pocket), Bluetooth connectivity, automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers and cruise control.

Side airbags, which were previously not available, are now standard, along with front, curtain and driver knee airbags.

Apart from the previously mentioned performance upgrades, the MR adds the TC-SST automatic, HID headlights with cornering feature, heated leather front seats, a Rockford Fosgate sound system with boot-mounted subwoofer and a multimedia system that includes satellite navigation and can play a range of audio formats.

The Evolution models are backed by a five-year/130,000km warranty, with a ten-year/160,000km powertrain warranty.

Mitsubishi expects to sell around 60 Evolutions a month with a mix of 30 per cent manual base car, 50 per cent automatic base car and 20 per cent MR models.

Did you know?

Evolution colours include white, silver, red, black and a blue that looks suspiciously like the hero colour of its main rival

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