Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X snaps to life with turbo boost

2008, Mitsubishi, Lancer Evolution X

CHANDLER, Ariz. -- The 'Evo' returns to Mitsubishi's line and this latest iteration is absolutely wicked in a racy machine motivated by pumped-up turbo muscle with sure-stick all-wheel-drive (AWD) traction, a telltale air scoop on the hood, distinctive airfoil wing flying off the tail and big red Brembo brake calipers tucked behind BBS forged aluminum alloy wheels.'Evo' is the nickname applied to Mitsubishi's World Rally Championship (WRC) race cars which have morphed through successive generations under the badge of Evolution.

A street-legal version called Evolution X -- denoting the tenth generation -- lands in Mitsubishi's 2008 line with restyled sheetmetal, more power and torque from the turbo-charged four-piston engine, and two distinct variations including a stick-shifting basic racer and over-the-top MR.

To be precise, the full name of this car is Lancer Evolution, as the platform begins with the Lancer, Mitsubishi's sporty compact-class four-door sedan.

But don't confuse Lancer Evolution with the Lancer sedan because new Evo is not really a Lancer -- at least not in spirit and performance, as Evo gets that turbo booster in the engine compartment and AWD traction at the treads.

Lancer the Mitsubishi compact sedan reached North America in 2002 as an economy car with sporty airs, but the Lancer nameplate traces back to 1973 on Mitsubishi compacts marketed in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

Since 1974, Lancer has also been the name applied to Mitsubishi's raucous rally race car, racking up trophies in races around the world.

The fast-and-furious crowd like those tuned to Mitsubishi's success on the WRC circuit desired more from a Lancer -- they salivated over the concept of a production variation of Mitsubishi's Evolution racer.

Then for 2004 Mitsubishi delivered a production version of the Evo rally car. And in 2006 Evo scored another take for what became Generation IX.

Evo -- Evolution X, with 'X' as the Roman number 10 representing the tenth generation -- comes to the 2008 class with Mitsubishi's Super All Wheel Control (S-AWC) advanced traction and handling system which regulates drive torque at each wheel.

Also aboard Evo X is a new high-performance 2.0-liter turbo-charged and inter-cooled engine with MIVEC (Mitsubishi Innovative Valve timing and lift Electronic Control) equipment which maximizes the power boost across every nuance of the rev band.

Displacement of the engine remains at 2.0 liters, but the new in-line-four gains in power and torque. It produces 291 hp at 6500 rpm and serious torque of 300 lb-ft at 4400 rpm.

The GSR edition totes a five-speed manual transmission, which employs gears closely spaced with a final drive ratio of 4.687.

The MR edition packs a six-speed TC-SST (Twin-Clutch Sportronic Shift Transmission), which is an automated manual shifter with a console-mounted shifter stick as well as magnesium shifter paddles at your fingertips on the steering wheel's crossbar.

You can drive it like an automatic, without a thought devoted to shifting gears, or you can switch to hands-on for shifting chores to maximize driver control.

Evolution MR also gains additional specialized performance hardware such as Bilstein shock absorbers and Eibach springs, two-piece front brake rotors, and high intensity discharge (HID) headlights.

The new front-wheel-drive (FWD) platform which underpins Evolution X features a longer wheelbase and a wider wheel track than the previous foundation, and these expansions enhance stability for the vehicle when set to motion.

Further, the body structure has been strengthened and stiffened to achieve greater torsional rigidity. This chassis reinforcement checks the body's tendency to sway laterally when steered through a curve so Evo's passenger compartment remains tight and relatively flat.

Aiding this agile attitude, the platform's wide-track stance in conjunction with an independent front suspension system biased

Aiding this agile attitude, the platform's wide-track stance in conjunction with an independent front suspension system biased toward a low longitudinal roll center contribute predictable stability for Evo. Likewise, the independent multi-link rear suspension holds back wheels in line while also damping vertical movement prompted by pavement bumps.

Evo exhibits awesome stick-to-the-road ability because of the S-AWC dynamic handling equipment. This sophisticated device regulates drive torque at every wheel through control of the Active Center Differential (ACD) 4-wheel drive, Active Yaw Control (AYC) rear differential, Active Stability Control (ASC), and sport anti-lock brake system (S-ABS) with electronic brake force distribution (EBD).

The ACD employs an electronically controlled hydraulic multi-plate clutch to split engine torque between front and rear wheels.

There are three ACD modes -- Tarmac, Gravel or Snow. Select Tarmac and you'll get more torque applied to the rear wheels for quick accelerations on dry pavement; use the Snow mode to move more torque to front wheels and get a better grip in slippery stuff, or punch up Gravel for even torque distribution front to rear when running on shifty surfaces.

A driver-oriented cockpit contains bolstered body-hugging Recaro sport bucket seats, a leather-wrapped three-spoke steering wheel and rally-style round gauges in the instrument panel with vivid graphics.

And check that rippled body. Lines look sharp and the style is aggressive, with wheels pinned at corners to balance the stance.

Inspiration for that angular chin, wide-mouth grille gape and angry-eye headlamps came from the menacing muzzle of a shark. A lot of standard equipment goes to Evo X, like an automatic climate control system, power windows and door locks, a driver's seat height adjuster, rear seat heater ducts and the 140-watt AM/FM/CD audio kit with six speakers.

Evolution GSR lists the optional Sight, Sound and Spoiler Package and a 650-watt Rockford-Fosgate sound system with 10-inch subwoofer. Evolution MR adds a Technology Package, Sirius satellite radio, a 30-gigabyte disk-drive navigation system and Mitsubishi's FAST Key entry system.

By Bob Plunkett

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Images of the 2008, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X

2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X front view
2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X front view
2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X interior
2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X interior
2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X center console
2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X center console
2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X from the rear
2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X from the rear