The next evolution of the Evo
Mitsubishi Prototype X Concept Preview – 2007 Detroit Auto Show: The Prototype X Concept is a preview of what we will see when the Evolution X bows. But this “concept” leaves less to the imagination than does a Victoria’s Secret model on the catwalk. Change out the headlights, put on different wheels, tweak the interior a little bit, and you basically have the production Evolution X.
Cynics might say that the Evolution has been the only Mitsubishi to get excited about for the past few years. You can call us cynics. While the new Lancer appears to have a nice compliment of goodies, asphalt-ripping performance isn’t part of the package. That’s the Evolution’s job, and as a preview to Mitsubishi’s performance leader—not to mention its official gladiator against Subaru’s STi on the streets and the track—the Prototype X Concept is a significant introduction for enthusiasts of any stripe.
Mitsubishi performance geeks have to learn a new engine designation: 4B11. This all-aluminum engine replaces the 56-lb. heavier iron-block 4G63 from all previous Evolutions. It's still 2.0-liters and twin cams, now with Mitsubishi’s MIVEC variable valve timing, all turbocharged to within an inch of its life. Numbers weren’t given, but rest assured there will be more horsepower than the current Evolution, and we’ll bet more than the Subaru STi’s 300 horses. The engine is connected to either a traditional five-speed manual or a six-speed automated manual with steering column-mounted shifter paddles. The all-wheel drive system is based on the Outlander’s with an Active Center Differential, Active Yaw Control rear differential and Active Skid Control promising to give the next Evolution exceptional handling.
The Prototype X Concept looks a lot like the Concept X from a few years ago, which is no bad thing. It shares a basic silhouette with the Lancer, but bigger fenders front and rear, a unique nose and 20-inch wheels with monster brakes give it an eat-you-alive aggressiveness the Lancer can’t hope to match. The big spoiler, deep air dam, presumably functional hood scoop and gray grille treatment are all over the top, as well it should be. Has the Evolution ever been subtle in anything it does?
Most of what’s inside the Prototype X Concept will make it to production: the dash layout, the overall look and feel, etc. However, to earn the designation “concept,” there are some show-car features. For example, we’re pretty sure that production Evos won’t have a band of red LEDs stretching from the doors onto the dash. We’re also betting Mitsubishi’s product liability lawyers will nix the electronic lap counter. On the other hand, we truly hope the Alcantara-swaddled sport seats make it to production.
According to Mitsubishi’s official info: “The Lancer Evolution has long lived up to its namesake by greatly improving with each successive generation…. As Prototype X demonstrates, the Lancer Evolution will soon make perhaps the largest leap in overall capability seen between two generations of this model. The next Evolution will offer major gains in handling dynamics and technology while maintaining the kind of thrilling turbo engine performance that has made the model a street legend around the world.” Sounds good to us.
The current Evolution XI is one of the best bang-for-the-buck values in existence. For the money, and even for a lot more, it’s hard to touch its performance envelope, not to mention the unqualified love for the car flowing from the aftermarket. The next-generation Evolution promises an even greater performance capability, but with an added dose of refinement that has never before been part of the Evolution’s mission. While we would love a smoother ride and quieter interior, our hearts are set on a future with many days of tire-shredding fun.
Photos courtesy of Ron Perry, Mitsubishi