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Review of 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X

2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution XThe newly released 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X high performance sedan is turning heads in America and abroad. Built on a rally inspired platform, much like the Subaru WRX, the Suzuki SX4, and the Nissan GT-R, the Lancer Evolution X more than holds a candle to its many rivals. Dubbed the Evolution X because it is the tenth generation of vehicle evolved from almost 30 years of rally racing experience and technology, the new Lancer has an even sportier look for this year, satisfying even some WRX fanatics. This should not be surprising, since Mitsubishi tipped its hand as far back as 2005 at the Tokyo Motor Show with the Concept-X.

Right out of the box, the Lancer Evolution X’s inline four-cylinder turbo charged MIVEC engine will make 291 horsepower and an unbelievable 300 foot-pounds of torque. All this from a 2 liter motor with an aluminum cylinder block (the scaled down RS model has an iron block with aluminum heads) that gets gas mileage in the ‘not too shabby’ range, though exact numbers are a little hard to come by.

The Mitsubishi Innovative Valve timing Electronic Control system is at the heart of the engine’s performance. Using two different cam profiles, the MIVEC engine creates more torque at lower RPM, more stable idle with lower emissions. At a preset engine speed a second, more aggressive sets of cams is triggered, lifting the valves higher and for a longer period of time, allowing for more power across a broader range of engine speeds. Earlier versions of the MIVEC system only adjust the timing of the valves, and not the lift, which limits the amount of air into the combustion chamber, rather than actively increasing it.

The MIVEC system effectively changes your cams out while the motor is in operation- something that hot rodders of the past would do to older model cars. This would produce either more low-end torque or more high-end horsepower, but never both. The new MIVEC system achieves both.

While the original intent of the MIVED system was to increase power and boost performance, lately, it is being used to increase fuel economy and actually tone down a vehicle’s performance. Luckily, the system is able to do both in the same car, making the idea of a road ready rally racer an achievable goal in today’s oil conscious world.

In the control department, the new Lancer Evolution X is fitted with Mitsubishi’s new Super All Wheel Control system. An improvement over Mitsubishi’s already superior traction control system, the Super All Wheel Control system actively manages the components of the previous traction control systems: the Active Yaw Control, Sport Anti-lock Braking System, and the Active Center Differential. To these three time tested system, the S-AWC system adds Active Stability Control. The regulation of these four systems, together with the newly added yaw rate feedback control, allows for individual control of each of the four wheels, giving drivers of all levels the confidence to enjoy a high performance sports car without the fear of throwing your $30,000 ego pod straight through a corner and into a ditch.

Yet another feature of the Lancer Evolution X that offers the everyday driver just a taste of the exotic and powerful is the new twin clutch Sport Shift Transmission. Six speeds, manually shifted, but with magnesium paddle shifters sans the need for a clutch make this automobile just about the closest thing you’re going to get to a top quality racer for the street. The transmissions arrangement puts odd numbered gears and even numbered gears on separate shafts, each with their own electronically controlled clutch, which allows for seamless shifting with no lag time and no interruption in power transfer. The lack of a torque converter also reduces the loss of energy from the engine to the wheels, giving the Lancer Evolution X better fuel economy and wicked quick power response.

The new Sport Shift Transmission allows the driver to select from three modes of operation, giving the driver total control over a variety of driving situations from tooling around to all out urban rally. The normal mode is programmed to offer lower speed shift points for smoother operation, optimum fuel economy, and maximum shifting comfort. Sport mode offers quicker shifting and higher speed shift points, giving the driver more control on winding mountain roads where engine braking may be required. Mitsubishi claims in their press release that this mode allows for a “closer man/machine relationship”. The third and highest performance shifting mode, Super Sport, has much higher shift points, allowing the engine to spin at higher RPMs to keep it in the meat of its power band. Super quick shifting in this mode is a must, and of course, it delivers in spades. The new transmission, coupled with the traction control, married to an updated, more rigid Lancer platform means that this driving machine is more responsive, easier to control with outstanding stability, and most importantly, safer for the average Joe to commandeer.

There is also included in the Lancer Evolution X an Active Steering system that anticipates and aids in the steering input from the driver. This feature seems to be a bit of overkill in the “electronic gadgets that drive your car” department. Car and Driver magazine tested the system on an older car, and was not impressed. Mitsubishi insists that in order to show the system’s capabilities, they set the test car for an exaggerated response, and production models would be preset to a more conservative level. This may lead some drivers away, not wishing to lose the feel and control that simple rack and pinion steering offers. Of course, people said that when power steering was introduced way back in the 1950’s.

Overall, this is a performance sedan for the urban warfare that is held on the streets of anywhere everyday. Whether you are driving it on long flat straight roads, curvy mountain passes, or at Germany’s famed Nurburgring, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X meets expectations and then some. Expect great things from this incarnation of a classic Japanese rally bred racer. This is not the last you will hear of the Evolution platform. In fact, this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

By JSC Editor

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