Black-faced, red-accented gauges are fitted to the Evo. The 160 mph speedometer and tachometer that has a 9000 rpm red line hint tell you this is no econobox, rather a serious performance machine. The redline is set at 7000 rpm, but all the original test cars wanted to rev higher before the fuel cut off kicked in.
The 4G63 in-line four is well known to the tuner fraternity, because it was fitted under the ’89-’94 Eclipse‘s hood. In the Evo, it makes 271 horsepower and 273 pound feet of torque. The engine has a cast-iron block with an 85.0 mm bore and 88.0 mm stroke and an aluminum cylinder head with four valves per cylinder and belt-driven twin overhead camshafts. The engine’s performance is boosted by the use of a turbocharger and air-to-air intercooler. Maximum boost is 19 pounds per square inch.
The Evo stops really, really well, thanks to the use of all-around Brembo disc brakes and calipers. Up front, the Evo has 12.7-inch-diameter ventilated rotors with four-piston aluminum calipers, while at the back there are 11.-8-inch diameter discs with twin-piston calipers. The anti-lock braking system is tuned for sporty driving. The 17.0 x 8.0-inch Enkei cast aluminum wheels are fitted with P235/45R-17 Yokohama ADVAN A046 tires.
The economy car interior is spruced up by the addition of serious and highly supportive Recaro seats, a set of black faced gauges, a leather-covered Momo steering wheel and a leather-covered shifter. Standard equipment includes a six-speaker CD audio system and power windows and locks. With a high roofline, there is 39.1 inches of front headroom with the sunroof fitted, and 36.4 inches of rear headroom in the surprisingly spacious back seat.
The Evo’s outrageous tall rear wing is an option: the car comes as standard with a lower profile, composite, so-called GT wing. The optional device is made from carbonfiber reinforced plastic, which has allowed the wing to be tuned to produce superior downforce without increasing its size compared with the previous heavier, thicker material designs (down from 5.3 mm wall thickness to 2.0 mm).
In profile, the seventeen-inch wheels, tall rear wing, and much more aggressive fascia and front bumper make the Evo stand apart from regular Lancers. The changes are more for go than show, however, because Mitsubishi engineers aimed to increase downforce. The front air dam helps limit lift and cool the engine bay, while a plastic aero undercover ducts air to the brakes, transfer differential and transmission to aid cooling. The fenders are bulged wider, while side skirts and a wraparound rear bumper skirt help control underfloor airflow.
On track, the Evo is very impressive, with fierce acceleration;Mitsubishi claims a 0-60 mph time of just under 5.0 seconds;plenty of grip, and terrific brakes. Like any all-wheel-drive car with a lot of its weight over the front wheels (60 percent) the Evo will tend to plow unless you use the power to dial out the understeer. You can also enter a corner way too hot and rotate the car by lifting off the gas on turn in, a technique which is ideal for the rally driver in all of us.
The new grille incorporates Mitsubishi’s new corporate face. The intercooler looks mighty vulnerable behind the license plate surround. The Evolution has High Intensity Discharge headlights, and uses aluminum for its fenders and hood panels. You can have any color so long as it is white, yellow, red, silver, blue, and black. We like red and yellow because if you have got it, why not flaunt it?
One of the best things about the Evolution is that Mitsubishi spent a lot of time, effort, and money to create a bespoke performance car. Virtually nothing is carryover from the regular Lancer;even the bodyshell is reinforced and has additional welds to double torsional stiffness. Aluminum forgings replace stamped steel in the suspension, while a quicker ratio (13 to one) steering rack even has a lowered mounting position to help achieve greater linearity in suspension toe changes and offer greater turning stability.
As well as letting journalists drive the street Evo on the Pattaya track in Thailand, the company let us loose in a group N rally Evo on dirt and allowed us to passenger in full 300-horsepower group A rally Evos, alongside Thai national rally drivers. The incredible part is just how much grip these cars have on dirt, and how much you’re sliding, all the time.
The group A Evos have anti-lag technology fitted, which means they have great gobs of torque from low engine revs, vital on dirt. Mitsubishi’s new north American rally signing, Lauchlin O’Sullivan was on hand to guide journalist group N Evo drivers as well as have a go in the group A carsunlike at least one of the Thai drivers, he used his left foot for braking.
Typical of the attention to detail on the engine is the use of hollow camshafts that help reduce the engine’s top side mass and reduce the engine’s center of gravity. The cams, along with more compact, bee-hive shaped valve springs, featherweight aluminum retainers, and natrium-filled exhaust valves reduce valvetrain inertia and help engine response. The natrium exhaust valves also help lower the temperature of the bell end of the exhaust valve by retaining less heat.