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We had an opportunity for a Q and A with Mitsubishi Motors about the Lancer Evolution X.  

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X (Evo)

[From April 2014 Edition]

 

by Michael Allen

 

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Homologation Special

The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution series got its start as homologation models to participate in the World Rally Championship (WRC), a European professional race series in which it no longer participates.  The WRC invites to its races only cars that are available for sale to the public.  And Mitsubishi wanted in.  This is how Mitsubishi ended up selling race cars, which were also street legal, to the public.  The Evo series developed alongside the Subaru Impreza WRX STI, which was also a homologation model.  The two companies happened to be prime competitors in rally car racing.  And from 1996 to 1999, Mitsubishi dominated the WRC with three championships and a cult following for both the EVO and STI developed.  Over time, the cult following spread to North America and finally, in 2003, Mitsubishi began shipping the Evo to North America.  To date, there have been 10 versions built and we are on our third version in North America, the Evolution X.

The current version Evo comes in two main variants in the United States.  The GSR is the 5 speed manual version.  The MR has a 6 speed dual clutch transmission and several other upgrades to the suspension, brakes and wheels.

 

Track Ready Features

The Evo is packed with features that make it fairly track ready.  It is certainly more car than a beginner can handle, meaning that a novice would be hard pressed to drive beyond the limits of the car and its technology.  As the driver becomes faster, the car has the electronic nannies to reign in any dangerous decisions or mistakes on the part of the driver.  These electronics can be adjusted down to none as the driver gains confidence and natural car control ability. 

Here are some of those track ready features:

Brembo Brakes

Two piece rotors (MR)

Bilstein struts with Eibach Springs (MR)

Transmission (MR) and oil coolers

Recaro seats with slots to accept harness straps

High performance, detuned turbocharged engine with intercooler with variable valve timing on both the intake and the exhaust sides

Super All-Wheel Control with stability and yaw control

Chassis stiffening making for an extremely strong foundation for a world class suspension

Aluminum hood, fenders and roof for weight control

Active center, front and rear differentials

All-wheel drive

Dual clutch transmission with magnesium shifter paddles and 3 shift modes.  Super Sport or S-Sport is meant for the track with very high rev limits and fast shifts/high clutch clamping forces

Lightweight BBS or Enkei wheels for low un-sprung mass

 

 The Car

We happen to own a 2011 Evo X MR and we bought it for track days.  It is street legal and with just a few modifications we can handle double stinting, since both of us drive it at track day events.  We just throw on the extra set of lightweight 18 by 9.5 inch wheels wrapped in Kumho Ecsta XS tires and drive it to the track.  We bedded in some Stop Tech Street Performance pads, as they have a wider operating temperature range than stock brake pads and so they are good for both the street and the track.  We wanted this car to be convenient to use for track days.  No trailering for us, at least not until we get that RV we have been dreaming about one day when we retire.  A couple of other things we added are brake ducts on the front rotors and a fan on the stock transmission cooler.  The SST is known for overheating issues on the track and my wife actually had the transmission warning light go off ending her last session of the day prematurely at our last event. 

 

Q & A

We had an opportunity for a Q and A with Mitsubishi Motors and following are some excerpts. 

 

According to the developers of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X (Evo), the four door exterior design was inspired by rally-racing vehicles, which are commonly four door.  But what’s on the inside and what makes a “track car” a track car?  Although any street legal car, if it meets all of the safety requirements, can be track driven, there are features and characteristics that obviously will enhance the car’s performance when being driven for high performance purposes.  The Evo has some of those features such as a turbocharged engine, quick-shifting manual or Twin-Clutch Sportronic Shift Transmission (TC-SST), rigid platform, race-tuned suspension, lively and communicative steering feel and exceptional handling due to its dynamic Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC) all-wheel drive system with Active Yaw Control (AYC).  The YAW system uses a wide range of data - steering angle, throttle input, yaw sensors, real-time engine data, etc., which has proven to provide outstanding vehicle stability and capability.

When asked about the key performance features of the Evo, Mitsubishi listed: 

Active yaw control (AYC) - varies engine torque between the left and right wheels for more precise traction and control, in a variety of conditions.

Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC) all-wheel drive system - computer-controlled 4WD delivers exceptional tractability.

State-of-the-art Brembo braking system for superb braking performance and stability

Available Twin-Clutch Sportronic Shift Transmission (TC-SST) - delivers lightning-fast up or down gear shifts, via steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters or toggling through quick shift transmission lever

2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with an all-aluminum engine block and head delivers 291 hp, ample torque without turbo lag, and all-around muscular turbocharged performance

MIVEC – (Mitsubishi innovative valve timing electronic control system) variable valve-timing system maximizes power output while reducing emissions

lightweight aluminum front fenders and hood help provide less overall mass while improving the vehicle’s center of gravity

plus much much more

 

Initially, the Evo VIII was only being produced and distributed overseas in Japan and Europe.   However, because Mitsubishi was havingevoenginec360x241 such success with the Evo in other markets, beginning in 2003, they decided to bring it the United States.  However, “the car’s design first had to meet the very stringent US DOT standards, such as safety and emissions requirements and this took some overhaul.”

Another interesting feature of the Evo is its dual clutch transmission.  According to Mitsubishi, developing the twin clutch transmission “was a very expensive project, and one that really just fits a niche market - there are really only a very small number of auto manufacturers that has been able to successfully develop a very good twin-clutch transmission for their vehicles. But we feel that our TC-SST twin-clutch transmission compliments our Lancer Evolution model very well . . .Our TC-SST twin-clutch transmission has been an excellent showcase to demonstrate Mitsubishi Motors advanced engineering and capabilities for our Lancer Evolution and Lancer Ralliart models.”

From 1996 to 1999 Mitsubishi dominated the World Rally Championship series with three series championships thanks to Finnish driver Tommi Makinen.  When asked why Mitsubishi discontinued its participation in the series in 2002, they explained that the economy had an effect on their decision.  “Like a number of other major automobile manufacturers at the time, Mitsubishi did not want to leave major international auto racing series - especially as we had been so successful in the World Rally Championship over the years -but the world economic crisis at the time a few years back forced our hand.  Although Mitsubishi would not comment directly when asked about any possible future plans to participate in professional race series in North America, they did state that they are “always on the lookout to participate in events that makes sense in key areas such as marketing/brand awareness as well as furthering our research and development for our road cars through participation in motorsports.”

mievcMitsubishi continues to be involved in racing by participating yearly in the Pike’s Peak International Hill Climb.  The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb competition is a time trial event for automobiles and motorcycles held annually at Colorado Springs, Colorado around Independence Day weekend that attracts over 150 competitors every year.  This is a once a year event whereat cars compete to get to the top of a mountain in the least amount of time.  They do not compete head to head, but more rally style, being released one at a time to compete against the clock.  Like Nurburgring, Pike’s Peak has become a vehicle for manufacturers’ efforts to capture bragging rights.  Mitsubishi has been involved in this time trial type event since 2012. 

Mitsubishi had a lot to say about their involvement at Pike’s Peak and how the competition is used as a research tool.  “The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC) is a very interesting and unique event in motorsports. There is a great deal of variety in vehicle classes and vehicle types – motorcycles, quads, semi-trucks, etc. – and its unique high elevation/drastically changing weather conditions are also a great challenge, so from an engineering and research and development standpoint, Mitsubishi Motors finds the PPIHC very intriguing.

Mitsubishi Motors has participated in the PPIHC over the last couple of years by running in the relatively new Electric Vehicle class. This is a class that has seen increased interest by some of the world’s major automobile manufacturers during this time period, and we are very proud of the great results we’ve had in this division: last year, we qualified in first and second place, and eventually finished second and third overall in the class running a pair of highly advanced Mitsubishi i-MiEV Evolution II prototype race cars.

In the last few years that we have run electric vehicles in the PPIHC, many of our top engineers have been intimately involved in theevomievrearc design, development and actual testing/racing of our prototype vehicles for this event. Not only have they learned a great deal more about EV engineering and performance capabilities – invaluable knowledge that we will use in the design and development of our next-generation electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) – but we have also used our Pikes Peak participation to test very advanced Mitsubishi Motors next-generation EV & PHEV-specific technologies including prototype lithium-ion batteries, inverters and many other EV-related hardware and software systems.”

When asked if Mitsubishi supports the use of the Evo for track days they had this to say:  “There is a vibrant performance aftermarket industry for parts/accessories for the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution model, and has been for years, so we pretty much leave it up to Lancer Evolution owners to decide whether or not to modify their vehicles for racing, and how they decide to go about it.”

evobbswheelcMitsubishi was asked a number of questions about future plans for the Evo, given rampant rumors on the forums that the model is going to be discontinued.  Mitsubishi avoided answering these questions, responding repeatedly with “Sorry, but we cannot discuss anything regarding the Lancer Evolution or any of our other future models at this time. Our future product plans are of a highly confidential nature.”

 

Bottom Line

One must read between the lines.  There are rumors that if the Evo is to continue, it will be a hybrid electric model.  If you take into account the effort it is making to compete in the Pike’s Peak International Hill Climb in the last two years, one may conclude that the rumors may be true.  Mitsubishi may be developing the technology for a hybrid electric high performance vehicle.  Maybe it will be the Lancer Evolution XI.  One can only hope.  

 

 

Jim Russell Driving Experience

Mitsubishi has partnered with the Jim Russel Driving School to offer an on track driving experience to Evo owners.  Have a look at this video:

 

Miev at Pike's Peak International Hill Climb

Mitsubishi has taken on the Pike's Peak International Hill Climb to test and develop new hybrid/electric high performance technology.  Have a look at the video here:

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