In a nutshell
With shark-eye headlamps gleaming, a prototype of Mitsubishi's new Lancer Evolution has ventured into the blazing Nevada sunshine. The new super-saloon, due in October 2007, is is the tenth incarnation of the high performance Lancer, the Evolution. Infused with the DNA of Mitsubishi's World Rally Championship cars, the saloon's looks, performance and high-tech chassis should deliver the most sensational Evo yet.
What it does/how it looks
The Evo formula, dating back to 1992, remains sacrosanct: turbocharged 2.0-litre engine, four-wheel drive and a bodykit that kicks sand in a rally car's radiator grille. But the look, previewed in 2005 by the Concept-X (pictured), is far more flamboyant than usual. The roofline and glasshouse are far more swooping, like a coupe's. The sheet metal has more creases and muscle. And the detailing - such as those tapered headlamps and blade-shaped rear lights - is far funkier.
Under the skin
As before, the Evo is based on this all-new Lancer, due in UK dealerships in autumn 2007. This front-wheel drive hatchback, aimed at the Ford Focus, uses a new chassis co-developed with Chrysler Group. Sampled so far beneath the mushy Dodge Caliber, this GS platform has not arrived in a blaze of glory. But the chassis will get an extensive overhaul for Evo duty. Mitsubishi has plumbed in its Super All Wheel Control system, with active centre and rear differentials feeding torque automatically between axles and wheels. The result is limpet-like grip levels, improved steering response and better controlled yaw movements.
The engine room
The Evo powerplant is naturally a 2.0-litre four-cylinder, breathed on by a high pressure turbo boosting peak power way beyond 300bhp for the standard saloon. That's before the Ralliart team gets involved, to turn up the wick for more extreme UK variants to replace the current FQ series. Mitsubishi claims the engine will have more consistent torque delivery. Transmission is via a six-speed paddleshift transmission.
The inside story
The new Evo is fractionally longer, wider and higher, which promises a little more space inside. The Concept-X's cockpit was quite experimental, with swathes of architectural aluminium and a minimalist feel. But the stripped out, driver oriented ethos and deep bucket seats are bound to figure.
How much and when?
There's a huge buzz about the Evo X. Mitsubishi dealers have already taken 200 deposits in the UK, with a likely starting price nudging the £30,000 mark. First deliveries are due at the end of 2007.