The hearts of rally fans and sport compact tuners around the world collectively skipped a beat earlier this month when Mitsubishi Motors officials hinted the famed Lancer Evolution may not play a part in the automaker's future portfolio. Something may have been lost in translation, as the company now suggests the Evo will live on, albeit possibly in a much different form.
Earlier this year, Mitsubishi proclaimed it was making a strong push towards rolling eco-friendly or electric drive technologies into its future products. Seeing as the Lancer Evolution is a high-performance vehicle, it isn't exactly in keeping with that mantra. In fact, Mitsubishi's global product director, Gayu Eusegi, suggested the current Evo would be the last.
Commence the backpedaling. After his comments triggered a wave of backlash from enthusiasts and Evo devotees around the world, Eusegi seems to have reverted on his previous stance. In another interview with Autocar, the executive says production of the current Lancer Evolution X will continue as planned, and suggests the company actually has some carte blanche when it comes to crafting a successor. Eusegi notes "regulations and market feedback will dictate [the next Evo's] engineering package and architecture."
Company CEO Osamu Masuko echoed those sentiments. "Mitsubishi is considering not advancing the Lancer Evolution concept in the same way as before," he told Autocar, "but to find a different direction for the Lancer Evolution model to evolve." Masuko refrained from disclosing any further information, noting the exact details will be "disclosed in due course."
Those remarks appear to suggest an Evolution with an alternative driveline may once again be a possibility. Motor Trend reported last year that the next-generation Lancer Evolution may well utilize an advanced plug-in hybrid powertrain. That report suggests an electric motor would power the front wheels while a 2.0-liter I-4 would be responsible for driving the rear wheels when needed. Autocar's report hints at a similar setup, but with a diesel engine substituted for the gasoline I-4 in order appease European emission and fuel economy standards.
Although previous reports suggested a hybrid-electric Evo could perform on par with today's car (we hear engineers are striving for a 0-60 mph time of 4.5 seconds or less), what are your thoughts on a hybrid Evo? Is this the proper way for the Evolution to evolve, or is this sheer blasphemy? Send your thoughts and wish list for the next-gen Evo our way in the comments section below.