Text: Vince Pornelos / Photos: Vince Pornelos, Brent Co | posted February 25, 2010 18:02
I can end this story right here, but you know that doesn't do justice to a car like this.
It's rare to encounter a vehicle that exudes such visual attitude right from the dealer forecourt. The Evo X features a forward swept shark nose, blacked out front intakes, a slotted and vented aluminum hood, a widebody treatment, 18 inch BBS wheels with bright red Brembo calipers screaming through the spokes, finished off with the trademark tall spoiler, rear diffuser and twin tailpipes. I've never encountered a car that looks so unanimously good and with so much impact on the street.
Inside, the Evo X is quite straightforward. You've got a pair of Recaro seats to hold you in place, a baseball stitch shift knob, magnesium shift paddles, pedals and a steering wheel. It's easy to get carried away about things like the excellent sound system (which is great, thanks to Rockford Fosgate), the safety features (there's a lot of them, befitting such a fast car) or on how many cups it can hold, but that's missing the point completely. The Evo is a performance machine. A hell of a good one.
If you've been living under a rock for the past 10 generations of Evolution, you should know by now that the Evolution is more than a regular Lancer with a bodykit treatment. The Evo is a wolf in wolf's clothing. Mitsubishi engineered an all new 4B11T engine to power the X. With twin cams, 16 valves, MIVEC valve timing technology with a twinscroll turbo and intercooler, the Evo has plenty of power to go around. 295 horsepower makes a far stronger statement than any kind of PR-speak.
Fire up the engine for the first time and you hear a subdued growl. The exhaust system does everything it can to contain the sound of 295 horses to just about 50 of them. Personally though, I'd prefer to let as much of them be heard, but that's a tuning question already.
Pull out to the street and the Evo somehow manages to change the way you drive. You begin to stalk other cars, taunting them to make a move so that you can make yours and show them exactly what 4.7 seconds to 100 km/h from a standstill looks like... or perhaps what the rear of the Evo X looks like. Either way, with the Evo X, most cars turn merely into moving chicanes. Cue evil smile here.
Being an Lancer Evolution means that every model that follows has an improvement over the previous one. The X is the culmination of everything that has been learned over 10 generations of evolution.
One marked change is the Evo X's power delivery. Evo's have been known for that familiar kick in the back sensation, letting you know the turbo has spooled up. With the 4B11T, that feeling has been replaced by a rapid but gradual surge at around 3000 rpm onwards. The relatively linear power delivery means it almost behaves as predictably as a naturally aspirated engine, but with the ultimate pace and power of a turbo.
The great thing about the Evo is its high performance four-wheel drive system, but in the Evolution X MR, Mitsubishi takes it to the next level with the debut of TC-SST, the brand's first dual-clutch automatic transmission. If I spell out what each letter means, it's most definitely a mouthful, but then again, it's the new pride of the Evo line. With dual wet plate clutches (one for odd numbered gears, another for even numbered gears) that allow one gear to be engaged on the first clutch while the next gear is ready on the second clutch, making for quick, seamless shifts.
Armed with TC-SST, the Evo X can switch between any of 3 shift modes: Normal for daily driving duties, Sport for enthusiastic driving and, finally, S-Sport when you really want to drive seriously as it holds revs far longer. Of course, the fun is in S-Sport, so I engage it (while in "P", push the TC-SST toggle forward for 5 seconds) and take the Evo X for a spin. Immediately, it's easy to feel the change in the car's demeanor as it holds revs higher and chooses gears more aggressively. Be prepared to go through your fuel tank when you use S-Sport though.
Another neat trick with TC-SST is launch control. While stopped, engage S-Sport, deactivate the stability control (ASC), step really hard on the brake, then rev up high. The 4B11T will rapidly jump up to 5000 rpm, and when its there, lift off the brake pedal. All four tires will light up and launch the car forward, drag style. Warning: use launch control wisely.
And then there's the handling. Caress, flick or flog the 3-spoke steering wheel (for the first time, it's no longer MOMO) into the corner, and the fighter-jet inspired, forward-swept nose of the Evo X points. Squeeze the throttle mid corner and the rear steps up to the plate, rocketing the car out of the turn. The suspension system really lends the heavier body some very sharp handling characteristics.
The X also has what could be one of the most advanced and intelligent 4-wheel drive control systems available: Super All-Wheel Control. The three famous settings to enhance the Evolution's cornering abilities are still at the push of a button: Tarmac (dry, paved surfaces), Gravel (for wet or loose surfaces) or Snow… the latter only needed if you live somewhere with more than 2 seasons of weather.
The Evo X has become a lot more civilized than older ones, but there are still a few compromises in the name of performance, the biggest being ride comfort (try to avoid pockmarked streets) and fuel consumption (in city driving, it yields 4.5 km/l average). But seriously, if you're going to buy an Evo X, or any Evo for that matter, comfort and fuel economy are pretty much low on the list of priorities. TC-SST is a little skittish in stop and go traffic (with a bit of driveline snatch) but I have to admit, it's far better and more convenient than the traditionally stiff Evo clutch pedals.
During my stint with the Evo X MR, many have asked if I was sold on it, given the price of nearly 3.5 million pesos, especially with the 306hp Hyundai Genesis Coupe and 300hp Subaru Impreza STI costing far less. The Evolution X is an emotional purchase. If you really want it, you'll get it. Logic does not apply. And besides, with the higher pricetag, the Evo X has become a lot rarer and more coveted.
Yes, I want one.