Purity of purpose is a quality sorely lacking in most modern automobiles. With committee design, focus groups and production concerns diluting virtually every machine with four wheels, it's hard to find a car worthy of the title.
The American Heritage Dictionary defines purity this way: a quantitative assessment of homogeneity or uniformity.
Lotus and Mitsubishi define it on their own terms with the Elise and Lancer Evolution MR. Both are tools for driving expression. Both names command respect in enthusiast circles. Both are, perhaps, the least modest off-the-shelf drivers' cars available in the United States today. And both are without question the purest drivers' cars reasonable money can buy.
And that's in stock trim.
The question, then, is can they be improved? Will their thoroughbred bloodlines be muddied with the addition of aftermarket parts, the turning of wrenches, or the risks that come with making more power? Or, will they become the most savage tarmac assassins imaginable?
Finding that answer was no menial task. The winter of '04 and '05 was among the wettest ever recorded in California and squeezing in a real road test on two cars clearly assembled for dry road driving wasn't easy in our desert climate gone bad.
In fact, as we go to press with this issue, the memories of desperately pounding out acceleration tests with the EVO in the pouring rain, the flat tire on the Elise and the near miss on our date with the dyno are fading rapidly. Luckily after a full rainout, several trips to the dyno to get accurate data and the endless crush of deadlines looming larger, the skies cleared just long enough to thoroughly wring out both these outrageous machines.
Are they better? For the answer, go to page 52.
But there's more on pure driving cars in this issue. On page 38 you'll find a driving impression and full specs on Mitsubishi's latest addition to the EVO stable-EVO IX. I found myself on a slightly less theatrical version of "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" to drive number nine and return home to finish this issue. Mitsu's whirlwind EVO IX experience included about 40 hours of travel time to drive this platform's final version before it's replaced with an all-new EVO X.
If looks alone are an accurate gauge, it appears Honda has come around again with the new Civic Si. Go to page 42 to see for yourself. It sounds like the company that's become known more for its ecofriendly reputation than for its performance models in the last four years might be back on track. And with 200 hp, so might the new Civic Si. We haven't seen a true drivers' car from Honda since it killed the Integra Type R in 2001. Could this be the return of Honda's pure driving machine?
Elsewhere in this issue, geek at large Dave Coleman explores the stranger side of pure driver's cars with a closer look at several examples of twin-charging, both modern and historic. It might seem strange, but using a turbo and supercharger on any engine is certainly a means to the end of making loads of power-always a key ingredient in any car that is truly engaging to drive.
And since that's what this magazine is all about, it seems like we've got a good package for you this month. Enjoy.Josh JacquotEditor