My '08 Mitsubishi Evolution X GSR has been in our project car fleet for a little less than a year now and has served as my daily driver for the majority of that time. I must say that driving the car stock was a pleasurable experience because it's pretty damn good from the factory, but with the choice mods that have been performed, I now know firsthand why Evolutions are most likely the best cars to mod on the planet.
Show me another vehicle where you can raise the boost, throw an intake, reflash and exhaust on and instantly make an extra 100 whp reliably - and I stress the word "reliably." Our EVO has been boosting 27 psi on California's piss-poor pump gas (91 octane) making 340 whp and 348 ft-lbs of torque without any complaints. The mods making that output a reality include an AMS intercooler and piping, an AEM intake, a COBB Tuning downpipe and high-flow cat, a Tomei exhaust and an RRE ECU tune. The difference in acceleration is staggering from stock. In fact, it's so good that I'm content sticking with the stock turbo, and that's almost the problem. With so few engine modifications and such a good power output, the need to modify the car's engine further is all but gone, especially when you want to run pump gas only.
Mitsubishi's latest generation AWD system is just as capable as its engine; however, it's very easy to go wrong when modifying it. Use improper parts and, all of a sudden, the sharp, nimble handling characteristics of the X fall off dramatically. If you remember, last month I upgraded the suspension system with a set of Toda Fightex coilovers and a Whiteline bumpsteer kit. The setup was remarkably civil and compliant on the rough roads of LA, but the true test was going to be on the track, where numbers, not a butt dyno, would determine just how much better the suspension was. There was one issue, though. The X was now riding on stylish 19-inch Volk CE28Ns. While great for the street, 19s are just too big for the track. I needed some 18-inch wheels with proper rubber to handle the rigors of track duty.
I turned to Volk again - this time I bought a set of used RE30 wheels from Super Lap Battle coordinator Elliott Moran. He was parting his EVO X out and I couldn't pass up a good deal. With the 18x10.5-inch +25 bronze RE30s in hand, I set off to find the right tire to match the wide wheels. At about the same time I bought the wheels, Falken Tire had just launched its latest tire, the RT615-K. Almost identical in looks to the older RT-615 that we've all come to love, the new 615-K offers an improved stickier tread compound and an even greater reduction in tread squirm, making it a stellar choice for a track tire that you can also drive daily on the street.
My preliminary test session at Buttonwillow Raceway was on a stock suspension with stock tires, so I wanted to be fair and first run the Toda coilovers with the stock wheel and tire setup to see what improvements the suspension alone would yield. The difference was immediately noticeable; I could easily carry more speed through the corners and the car settled down much better as opposed to the roll it exhibited stock, but the OEM Yokohama A13C tires were at their limits and just couldn't provide the grip the EVO X now needed. Even with the handling handicap, I was able to run a 2:05.2 compared to the 2:07.4 on a stock suspension. That's a 2.2-second improvement from the Toda Fightex coilovers alone. As I mentioned in my previous tech article, the Fightex suspension has changed my perspective on coilovers. Not only have they proven themselves on the track, but they're incredibly smooth on the street - a combination I didn't think was possible.
With the overheated and spent Yokohamas off the car, it was time to see what the 275/35R18 Falken RT-615K tires could do. Talk about a night-and-day difference. The 615K's large tread blocks handled the corners with ease, providing ample amounts of grip to really get the EVO turned in and pointed in the right direction for fast corner exit. The grip the 615Ks provide is what you would expect from a R-compound tire, not a street tire with a 200 tread-wear rating. Only after repeated hard laps did the RT615s start to show signs of fading, but considering the EVO's heavy demeanor, it's to be expected. Hands down, the 615K ranks right up there with the best all-out performance street tires on the market.
The other notable factor I should mention is that with the stickier rubber I could feel the suspension was actually being used to its full potential, compared to before where the tires were the limiting factor.
Before even seeing the session's time, I knew I had gone faster, but by how much? The lap time sheet showed a 2:03.2, another two whole seconds shaved off the previous lap time! Great results, indeed, but I know there was still at least half a second or more left to make up. The heat was rising, though, and the EVO wasn't happy inhaling all that hot air into its engine. After six hot laps, the water temp on the Defi CR gauge would creep past 221 degrees F (105 degrees C), which was a bit hot for my liking. I knew it was time to call it a day; the suspension and tires performed remarkably well, proving that with the right setup, low lap times are very achievable. You may be quicker with just suspension, but add the right wheels and tires and you'll utilize your setup to its fullest capabilities.
Now that the go-fast aspects have been covered, I can touch on some aesthetic upgrades that were made to the EVO X courtesy of Rexpeed, which produces a whole catalog full of carbon-fiber parts for the EVO X's interior, exterior and engine bay. My main motivation to add the parts was to open up the side ducts on the front bumper. I had experienced some creeping oil temperatures on the first track day, and the easy fix is to get rid of the stock foglights, which block half of the air path to the oil cooler. Rexpeed carbon-fiber side ducts allow more air to pass through the oil cooler, essentially lowering oil temperatures, while also looking really good. Pair the ducts with the R-Style front carbon splitter, and all of a sudden, the EVO's appearance changes quite dramatically. I didn't stop there, though - the side vents on the fenders are a faux mesh plastic from the factory and while they allow some air to exit they don't look the part. Rexpeed's V-Style carbon fender vents add some much needed style to the side of the car and the carbon-fiber side spats that slip over the factory aero skirts complete the overall look.
Installation of these parts is rather straightforward. The front bumper has to be removed to install the ducts and front splitter. The stock side vents pop out with ease and the Rexpeed replacement can be applied with a liberal helping of double-sided tape. There's a provision for a screw, but I felt there was no need to remove the fender and drill a hole to mount it. So far, it's been more than three months of daily driving and the vents haven't fallen off yet.
You'll notice that the hood has a carbon scoop and vents, as well. Those pieces came from C-West (they were a hand-me-down from Mr. Moran). Let's just say that when I bought the wheels, these parts were thrown in. I'm not sold on the carbon in the hood because I think it may be overdoing it; there is such a thing as too much carbon-fiber bling, and I'm walking that fine line.
Without a doubt, I can safely say that I've enjoyed (and will continue) to enjoy driving the EVO X every day. It has gobs of performance to back up its aggressive look. What's next, though? Truth be told, I'm not sure. There are still plenty of upgrades to perform, but I don't want to compromise the daily driveability one bit. After all, that's the beauty of the EVO X. It's one of the best all-around track/street cars out there, and I'm sure the majority of you who own one use it for the same purposes I do. Slapping a big turbo, cams and gutting it will certainly make it faster around a track, but forget about driving it daily. Worry not, though, there are still plenty of installments in store for our EVO X. There's always room for improvement when trying to build the perfect street/track car.
|BUTTONWILLOW CW13 CONFIGURATION||LAP TIMES|
|Stock suspension, wheels and tires||2:07.4|
|Toda Fightex coilovers, stock wheels and tires||2:05.2|
|Toda Fightex coilovers, Volk RE30 wheels with Falken RT615K tires||2:03.2|