Preview - Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Mar 5, 2003.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    The three diamonds finally get the ace.

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    BY AARON ROBINSON

    Street racing and video games have sparked a global struggle for vehicular coolness, all of it centering on the homologated, half-pint rally car. Until last year, America remained aloof behind a wall of prickly crash and emissions laws. Then Subaru lobbed one over in the form of its multitalented 227-hp WRX sedan and wagon.

    The response by Mitsubishi, seen on these pages, is, to borrow a diplomat's phrase, disproportional.

    Meet the new 271-hp Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution for America, or the Evolution VIII if you already speak Evo lingo or have been following the breathless reports out of Japan. The Evo offers feline reflexes, hammerhead power, and more urbane polish than this genre of super-boosted weed whackers is known for.

    Thanks to Uncle Sam's hard-nosed standards, the seven previous versions of Mitsubishi's souped-up Lancer (a.k.a. the Mirage), which began in 1992, were not sold here. Mitsubishi has built an Evo that crashes softer and stinks less. he first of 6500 Evos to be imported this year should be arriving about the time you're reading this in February, priced at about $29,500 for openers (hard numbers were still being firmed up at press time). For now, sedans only.

    The options are a sunroof and a rear wing that is smaller and cheaper than the hand-made carbon-fiber helicopter blade pictured here. There is only one transmission, a five-speed manual. If dealers demand it, the Evolution GT-A model, with its button-shifted five-speed automatic but 31 fewer horses, might come stateside in 2004.

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    The Evo represents a substantial price stretch from the base $24,720 Subaru Impreza WRX sedan. Mitsubishi figures the extra beans under its Evo's hood, plus some swank styling and interior gloss, earn your additional dough.

    Here are the facts. You decide.

    An Evolution body shell is just a humdrum Lancer until workers at Mitsubishi's Mizushima factory weld in the numerous steel body stiffeners. They include a V-brace behind the back bench (thus, no folding rear seats); extra gussets in the windshield base, door pillars, and trunk; additional spot welds on the strut towers and rear-suspension attachment points; and a tubular front strut tower brace that is tied into the cowl at a reinforced bracket.

    The extra material doubles the Evo's torsional rigidity to stem twisting and reduces body flexing by 65 percent over the base Lancer, Mitsubishi says. A Viagra the size of a hockey puck couldn't make this car any stiffer.

    To offset the weight of the extra steel, Mitsubishi stamps the Evo's hood and front fenders in aluminum. Bulging wheelhouses, gaping mesh-covered ducts, xenon headlights, and clear taillight lenses distinguish Evos from the lanky Lancer. Cartoon wing notwithstanding, this Evo looks more sophisticated than the Evo VI, with its tacked-on plastic, that we tested in May 2000.

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    Seamless balance-shafted power can be expected from the engine, a turbocharged-and-intercooled DOHC 16-valve 2.0-liter 4G63. A cast-iron codger (remember the first Eclipse Turbo?), it returns to America after a four-year absence with a revamped aluminum head, sodium-filled valves, and 8.8:1 compression.

    Previous Evos were known for surreptitiously surpassing the Japanese industry's self-imposed horsepower cap of 276. But Mitsubishi asserts that every five-speed Evo for America will make 271 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque—no more, no less.

    The Evo VII's titanium turbo has been replaced with a cast-iron unit recycling wasted heat into 19 psi of peak boost. A nickel-chromium compressor fitted to a doubled-up set of exhaust impellers—called a "twin scroll"—offers hair-trigger spooling and reduced turbo lag. Like Evos of yore, the air-to-air intercooler up front is plumbed with a cockpit-controllable water sprayer. It boosts cooling efficiency under low-speed, high-load situations. Think autocross.

    Struts hold up the Evo's nose and 60 percent of its 3250 pounds; links and control arms cast in aluminum locate the rear wheels. They receive their power via a 50/50 torque-splitting center differential with a viscous coupling for slip control. The front differential is open, the rear a limited slipper with mechanical friction plates. Japan's much fancier "active yaw control" system with helical front, electronic center, and hydraulic rear differentials got scotched for America to hold down prices and to fit a larger, 14-gallon fuel tank.

    The Evo's cockpit opens for business with heavily bolstered cloth Recaro buckets especially upsized for a populace possibly enlarged by KFC. Polished spokes support a thick Momo wheel, and a large tachometer is in the center saucer. The shifter stands tall but moves tightly and accurately. The standard rear-window wiper is a necessity in gridlocked Tokyo and counts as bonus Japanese-home-market kitsch here.

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    Showing unusual fatalism, Mitsubishi unleashed a pack of slavering journalists on three Evo VIII examples at a club track in Pattaya, Thailand. The exotic, steamy venue two hours outside Bangkok was selected for its convenience to the Tokyo home office.

    In the pit, the engine puttered quietly at idle, thanks to a pneumatic flap in the muffler. Acceleration happens without any huge urgency until about 3500 rpm, when the supersonic blast to the redline begins. The transition to the big boost is gratifyingly smooth, the curve less kinked than it should be with this much pressure on tap.

    Mitsubishi thinks 60 mph is attainable in five seconds flat. The Evo VI with "276 horsepower" we tested in 2000 managed 5.1 and was 300 pounds lighter, and a WRX is good for 5.8 seconds. We expect something in between for the American Evo.

    The car plows through hairpins in fine company with other nose-heavy all-wheel-drivers. Relax the throttle or brush the brakes, and the car hastens smoothly into light oversteer. The rear end wants to help, salvaging overcooked corners and steering you away from curbs. It stays behind you, even when the Brembo four-piston front and two-piston rear calipers are biting savagely.

    The Momo feels light to the hands but quick, with cornering loads coming on very gradually. A full ride assessment must wait until we can touch tires to city streets, but excursions over the track's curb cutouts were not especially jarring.

    Chevy versus Ford? Unless you drive NASCAR, that battle hardly seems worth watching. With this latest Evo now a player and Subaru's 300-horse WRX STi coming this year, the clash of the lionhearted Lilliputians is the most entertaining game around.

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    Vehicle type: front-engine, 4-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan
    Estimated base price: $29,500
    Engine type: turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve 4-in-line, iron block and aluminum head, Mitsubishi engine-control system with port fuel injection
    Displacement: 122 cu in, 1997cc
    Power (SAE net): 271 bhp @ 6500 rpm
    Torque (SAE net): 273 lb-ft @ 3500 rpm

    Transmission: 5-speed manual
    Wheelbase: 103.3 in
    Length: 178.5 in
    Width: 69.7 in
    Height: 57.1 in
    Curb weight 3250 lb

    C/D-estimated performance:
    Zero to 60 mph: 5.4 sec
    Zero to 100 mph: 14.4 sec
    Standing 1/4-mile: 14.2 sec @ 98 mph
    Top speed (redline limited): 155 mph
    Projected fuel economy:
    EPA city driving 18 mpg
    EPA highway driving 26 mpg

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  2. Werdness to the Turdness

    Werdness to the Turdness RIP Nigger Jim OT Supporter

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    welcome to last month's issue of c and d
     
  3. mads.

    mads. OT Supporter

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    its slower than the srt-4 :confused:
     
  4. Werdness to the Turdness

    Werdness to the Turdness RIP Nigger Jim OT Supporter

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    i still can't get over the hideous tails and the front end is way too busy. besides that it's overpriced and slower than a neon :slap:
     
  5. Snake Eyes

    Snake Eyes Guest

  6. Spooks

    Spooks Guest


    :bigthumb:
     
  7. kré

    kré ae86 driver.

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    haha

    thread preview:
    "Street racing and video games have sparked a global struggle for vehicular coolness, all of it centering on the homo..."
     
  8. phatmonky

    phatmonky Guest

    14.2 @ 98? Sounds like someone can't launch :)

    To all the morons yelling about the neon, this car is good for 13.5 and is far more moddable than said neon (and does not have the gayness of FWD).

    That all said, they butched the car :(
     
  9. NeonWally

    NeonWally Guest

    they took all of the classy, aggressive lines of the previous Lancers and threw them out. :ugh: Riced out from the factory :ugh2:
     
  10. TenzoR

    TenzoR She is hot hot hot

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    "The Evo VII's titanium turbo has been replaced with a cast-iron unit"

    :wtc:
     
  11. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    I didn't know they were coming out with a turbocharged, AWD, Pontiac Sunfire sedan...

    :p
     
  12. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    I take it you read the entire article, the car wouldn't make it here period unless Mitsubishi made it more U.S. emissions friendly.
     
  13. glide

    glide primer

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  14. phatmonky

    phatmonky Guest

    I'm not talking about the power at all, and as you know I have been tracing this car's potential of coming her since day one.

    The fact is they added altezzas, a front end to follow the rest of the USDM lien (hideous), and the removal of a the active differential do not make it an obvious choice for someone looking to spend 30k :ugh2:

    The STi, with it's better interior, and (now IMO) better looks, will make the EVO another one of mitsu's "almosts".
     
  15. MeAmEddie

    MeAmEddie My car goes Whooosh psst

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    damn, i didn't know straight line performance determined how bad ass a car is :rolleyes:
     
  16. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Ah.

    STi > SRT-4 >>>> U.S. Evo. :p
     
  17. Mega-JC: Da Return

    Mega-JC: Da Return Tiger Knee!

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    :slap: fool this is OT! Of course straight line performance is important!
     
  18. Ben

    Ben Guest

    :ugh:

    don't even joke like that
     
  19. Red97GST

    Red97GST Guest

    up the boost and slap a 3" turbo-back on that ho and It'll see 12's I'm sure

    but yeah they riced it out a bit. hell, the car has to sell to a somewhat broad market so it makes sense.

    It's more obscene for Ford to have put altezza's on the F-150 :ugh2:
     

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