There's a reason Mitsubishi's Lancer Evolution has the name it does. The car has been evolving as a rolling test bed for Mitsubishi since its inception in 1992. Rather than build a new car and re-badge it with each new model cycle, the company has simply added the next consecutive number after the now iconic nameplate, "Evolution." That's because historically, each new Evolution has essentially been the technologically improved version of its immediate successor. Consider this: The first six Evolutions were built on the same core chassis, practically defining them as a step in evolution.
But it's obvious that the game has changed in 2008. Mitsubishi is going after a different demographic altogether, and they've changed more than a few things substantially to net the client they seek. That's fine and dandy, but what we want to know is whether this car is worthy of the "Evolution" badge-does it have that extra degree of "special" that made the old car so good?
He Said, Mitsubishi Said
Head developer Ryugo Nakao says, "...to date, the main thrust has been how fast we can make them [go]... But in our view things have now changed. Today's new generation of super high-performance machines need to deliver more than absolute speed; they have to wrap that speed in safety and in comfort." In a nutshell, Mitsubishi's goal is to go after the people who've grown up, bought the boring cars associated with growing up and misshauling ass.
As you might expect, the company intends to reconcile these opposing demands with a series of acronyms-the first, and perhaps most critical, is the Super-All Wheel Control (S-AWC) vehicle dynamics system, which is comprised of Active Yaw Control (AYC), an Active Center Differential (ACD), ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) and finally, Active Stability Control (ASC).
If that wasn't a mouthful, a dual-clutch Sports Shift Transmission (SST) takes the place of a six-speed manual in the Evo MR, and the 4G63 has been chucked in the dumpster, in favor of a new 4B11T engine. The new mill of course has a new turbo and, lest we forget, is bolted to an entirely new chassis.
Mitsubishi says we're looking at a car that can straddle the fence between performance and comfort. But don't panic just yet. Let's have a look at the systems before we judge, shall we?
Perhaps the single biggest difference between an Evo IX and an Evo X is the addition of a system that Mitsubishi calls S-AWC. In an effort to regulate the massive number of acronyms that have been accumulating in the Evo's repertoire, the company came up with one all-encompassing term to describe all of the systems at once.
The Significance Of Ayc As A Component Of The Big Picture
Easily the most important part of S-AWC is AYC. The Evo X is hardly the first Evo to have this tasty little system, though it will be the first America-bound Evo with the technology. The fact is that the Evo has been employing the AYC since 1997, when it was introduced in the middle of the Evo IV cycle. In a nutshell, AYC is able to distribute torque between the two rear wheels (torque vectoring) after it has been distributed by the center differential, to aid turn-in. Think of it as an understeer eraser.
It does this by using two hydraulic clutch packs, which regulate the torque on each rear axle. The system gained the word "Super" in the Evo VIII and "S-AYC" in the Evo IX, because the latest iteration used a planetary gearset, allowing a more aggressive torque split than previous systems.
All you really need to know is that AYC is the reason everyone who drives an Evo appears to drive like Tommi Makkinen, and Mitsubishi has finally deemed the car-loving citizens of the United States worthy of the system. That of the Evo X is considerably more advanced than in previous iterations, though. The new system will work in tandem with EBD (something more traditionally used to regulate vehicular yaw moment) to squash understeer. It does this using yaw rate sensors and by detecting brake fluid pressure in the lines.
The AYC brain now talks to the engine, too. Well, it listens at least-to engine torque and speed. Mitsubishi says this connection allows the system to determine what the driver wants from the car and provide that output quicker than earlier systems.
Picture a novice driver understeering hopelessly into a corner. His first reaction is to crank more lock into the wheel. Using a steering angle sensor, the system can tell what the driver is trying to do, and then assess whether the car is actually doing it. The electronics may be laughing at your crappy technique, but they'll get the car turned anyway.
The options go unchanged from Evo IX to Evo X, but their effects have been expanded.
The Other Bits Of S-AWC
AYC wouldn't work at all, were it not for Mitsubishi's ACD, which works to control the speed differential between the front and rear wheels. But the term "center differential" is misleading, because the unit that controls this is actually inside the transfer case at the front of the car, not the transmission.
Two shafts protrude from the transmission, one inside the other. These send torque to the transfer case, which also houses the front differential. Bolted to the front differential housing is a ring gear, which connects to a pinion gear that then sends torque to the rear wheels. Confused yet?
Instead of a viscous coupling (as found on non-ACD Evo VIII's), there are hydraulically actuated clutch packs inside the transfer case. Depending on the ACD settings, these clutches try their best to make all four wheels spin at the same speed, even if it means locking the output of the center differential and creating a 50/50 torque split. These are what you're adjusting when you switch between "Tarmac," "Gravel" and "Snow." It's important to note that the center differential is actually open on an Evo, which means that there isn't a set torque split, per se. If the ACD is fully engaged when two wheels are on ice and the other two are on pavement, all four wheels will spin at the same speed. That means that power can be sent purely to the wheels that areon pavement.
Compare this open center differential to that of the Driver Controlled Center Differential (DCCD) on a Subaru WRX STI, which has a mechanical torque split. When you turn the dial, you can actually feel more torque being transferred to the rear wheels during driving. This is only possible by coincidence in an Evo-if the rear wheels have more grip than the front wheels, the ACD will send more torque rearward until all four wheels are spinning at the same speed.
In addition to the new AYC and ACD systems, the Evo X adds stability control-this system detects under or oversteer resulting from abrupt steering inputs and works to eliminate wheel slippage. A traction control element regulates wheelspin during acceleration. Both systems work in tandem with EBD to only silence the wheels thatare slipping.
Things That Make The Evo Go Fast
Even though Evo's VII through IX used the newer CT9A chassis, they still shared a key common element-Mitsubishi's venerable 4G63 engine. Like everything else in the Evo, it evolved, eventually ending up with MIVEC (think Mitsubishi's VTEC) and a titanium turbine wheel. But, as Mitsubishi explains it, an engine that returned excellent gas mileage and clean emissions was necessary to take the car into 2008.
If you're starting to think that means bad news, think again. The new engine is completely aluminum, netting a weight savings of 27.5 pounds over the 4G63, not counting intake and exhaust components. On top of that, it's aimed the other way around, with the turbocharger against the firewall and the intake on the radiator side. This allows for a 10mm lower engine mounting position (the exhaust doesn't have to go underneath it), which results in a lower center of gravity.
The pistons, fully floating and made by Mahle, sit inside cast-iron cylinder sleeves. In addition, bore and stroke are now equal, at 86mm for both. This is as opposed to 85mm and 88mm, respectively, in the Evo IX. Up top, MIVEC does its work on both camshafts (MIVEC was only on the intake cam of the previous car), and direct valve actuation means that there are no rocker arms. The manufacturer says that this alone is responsible for a 1kg reduction in engine weight.
The Evo X will have an ignition coil for each of its four cylinders, as opposed to the twin-coil system used on the Evo IX, where two cylinders shared one coil. This time around, the cylinder head and block use separate cooling chambers, resulting in more reliability and importantly, less mess when you turn the boost up too high.
The 4B11 isn't even loosely based on the 4G63. A timing chain replaces the belt of the Evo IX and there are no balance shafts in the new engine. A new aluminum short port intake manifold has an electronically controlled throttle body mounted further upstream-a first for any Evo. And don't bother with your gigabuck stainless steel manifolds, either; this thing's already got one. On top of that, the downpipe, which is much shorter, is now 65mm instead of the Evo IX's 60mm pipe.
Mounted in between that sweet stainless steel manifold and the big downpipe is the sweetest turbocharger Mitsubishi has yet to offer on the Evo. This one's entirely aluminum-oh, and titanium. It's still based on a TD05H, but this one's called a TD05HA-152G6C-12T. A big part of the reason it's in place is the higher compression ratio of the new engine (9.0:1 compared to 8.8:1). For those nerdy enough, the Evo IX used a TD05HRA-155G6C-10.5T, and the Japan-only Evo X RS uses a TD05H-152G6-12T. That RS turbocharger has an Inconel turbine wheel (as compared to the titanium-aluminum wheel we just mentioned).
Getting The Power To The Systems
You're wondering why Mitsubishi decided to use a twin-clutch transmission in its high-end Evo MR. We all are. The only statement we could get out of product planner Ryugo Nakao was, "...it offers the convenience and effort-saving qualities of an automatic transmission."
The thing is we're not sure if you should be giving a damn about convenience and effort-saving qualities if you're out buying Mitsubishi Evos. Nevertheless, if you're going to buy a "flappy paddle" gearbox, this just might be the one to buy. Here's why.
For one, it's got two clutches so it shifts as quickly as say, an Audi or VW equipped with their "DSG" transmission. So the good news is that this close-ratio box couldn't be more different than irritating systems, like BMW's "SMG." How does it shift so quickly, you ask?
It's a rather innovative solution-rather than have every gear on one input shaft, the dual-clutch SST places odd gears on one shaft (that's one, three and five) and even gears (two, four and six, geniuses) on an additional shaft. Each of the two shafts has its own wet clutch to feed torque to the output shaft. Say you're driving in an even-numbered gear. The computer monitors vehicle speed and throttle position, and pre-selects either a higher or lower odd gear. The transmission then disengages the even-numbered gear clutch and engages the odd-numbered gear clutch.
As you're aware, there's an automatic mode, as well as manual mode that can be actuated with the shifter or by using the paddles mounted on the steering column. If you try to downshift in either mode when the rpm are too high, an audible alarm lets you know what a jackass you are, and the system prevents theintended downshift.
If your left leg is twitching at learning the above information, know this: The Evo X comes with a beefy five-speed transmission in GSR trim, which has been rumored to take the beating (and horsepower) that the dual-clutchSST can't.
And We've Just Barely Scratched The Surface
It's easily possible to spend another 20 or so pages discussing the aerodynamic innovations or the reasons that the new car is 64 percent stiffer than the old one. We could talk about the suspension, which is also stiffer, and the electronics that keep all of the complex systems in the Evo X working in tandem together. Or the instrument cluster-mounted display that shows you how it's all going down. Then there are the Brembo brakes, which have been re-engineered to maximize effectiveness behind the new 18-inch wheels. Did we mention that those wheels are an inch bigger than those of the Evo IX, too?
The takeaway message is that the '08 Evo X is a completely different car, from the ground up. For the first time in Lancer Evolution history, it's questionable whether this car should really be wearing the nameplate on the decklid at all-and that might not be a bad thing.
Behind The Wheel: Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX
We Test Slide Technology
It doesn't rain much in Arizona, and the dry asphalt at Firebird Raceway is making it all too easy to put Mitsubishi's new Evo X through its paces. In the first few hard corners, the most significant difference between this car and its predecessor makes itself abundantly clear. Ignore everything you've heard-that difference is called AYC.
You see, the things you've heard are true-the Evo X shares a chassis with the Dodge Caliber. It's gained more than 330 pounds, and its completely redesigned engine only makes about 9 more horsepower. But push a few buttons on the dashboard and those things don't seem to matter as much, as you're magically transformed into a rally driver. Don't worry about technique-in fact, do whatever you want-come in too fast, brake too late, even hit that apex early and wait for the understeer if you want.
But it's not coming. Instead, the nose tucks in and we fire out of every botched corner, electronics neatly covering up the mistakes we've made. Apparently, we've discovered firsthand the reason that the international press has been saying Evos make any amateur look like Makkinen since 1997.
Before we can have too much fun, the sky opens up, allowing water to crash down by the bucketful. The natives can't remember the last time it rained, and that means that the bubblegum-sticky track surface has turned cooking sheet lathered with Crisco. But Mitsubishi isn't waving us in and we're not about to stop now.
Kick the wipers on full and fire up those HIDs-squiggle back into the excellent Recaro seat (which is narrower than before, but still not as thin as those found across the pond) and let the S-AWC do the work. We're of course supposed to have switched the thing to "gravel" for this kind of driving, but why do that when "tarmac" allows the kind of hooligan shenanigans you'd be shot for attempting on public roads?
The word of the day is "oversteer," and we can't remember the last time track time felt so good. Fight the instinct to correct the slide-a trick easier said than done at first-and you'll look like a pro drifter in no time. On more than a few occasions, we were sure we'd be navigating through the rear wing, but we can't complain-we had the S-AWC on the wrong setting, after all.
Mitsubishi just happened to have an Evo IX on hand for comparison purposes. It's worth mentioning that, though the Evo IX is the road-going racing car, those 331 extra pounds went into making the new car a bona fide daily driver. Getting into the Evo IX after driving the Evo X was like belting into a time attack car.
|1. Acceleration |
|ACD and ASC control the drive force |
and brake force to balance acceleration
and road conditions. Powerful offthe-
line acceleration is generated by
superior control of wheel slippage.
|2. Braking||ACD and ABS maximize the effect of braking |
force from all four wheels. The systems provide
stable, controllable braking and quicker stops
while preventing the wheels from locking up.
|3. Entering corner||AYC brings cornering performance in line |
with steering inputs. Even with ABS engaged,
AYC controls the yaw moment to deliver
intuitive, follow-the-line cornering.
|4. Pulling out |
|ACD and AYC maximize torque |
on each wheel. By enhancing
both cornering and traction
performance, the system
allows more aggressive
acceleration out of corners.
|5. Understeer||AYC and ASC work together, |
maximizing torque and
brake force to keep the
vehicle under control.
|6. Oversteer||In emergency situations such |
as spins, ACD’s superior
vehicle control, plus AYC and
ASC, assist the driver to safely
execute recovery maneuvers.
|Tarmac||Weakens ACD control bias, strengthens AYC distribution|
|Gravel||Boosts ACD control bias, AYC effect is weakened for stability|
|Snow||Further boosts ACD and weakens AYC|