Evolution Nearly Over at Mitsubishi

Certain to bring sadness to the Japanese performance crowd, affirmed reports have indicated the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution with Known affectionately simply as the Evo by enthusiasts, Mitsubishi’s top-performing compact sedan is a casualty to the Japanese car company’s new focus on hybrid and electric vehicles.

While the Evolution was a variation of the Mitsubishi Lancer, the model/trim combination created a pocket rocket earning itself separate acknowledgment. Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution came to live in 1992 when the auto company devised a plan to dominate the World Rally Car championship. Applying a turbocharged engine and all-wheel drive to the small Lancer sedan slowly allowed Mitsubishi to assert itself as a motorsport powerhouse. The biggest success for the Mitsubishi global rally car program came when the Lancer Evolution was in the hands of Finnish driver Tommi Mäkinen. Earning 22 victories over a six-season span between 1996 to 2001, Mäkinen took the drivers championship four-straight years. Mitsubishi won the manufacturers championship in 1998 with the Evolution IV as well as the newer V proving superior over the Toyota Corolla and the Subaru Impreza WRC cars.

By 2003, 7 versions of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution were sold in Japan as rally car rules dictated the race vehicle must be largely production-based in origin. However, as the Lancer Evolution started to win rally races, the world automobile market began requesting the high-powered compact sedan. Reluctant for 11 years, Mitsubishi finally appeased the United States market by officially bringing the Lancer Evolution VIII to dealerships. Mitsubishi suspended their official support on the World Rally Car stage after the 2005 season but continued their super sport compact theme in 2008 model year when the Lancer Evolution X was built. Accepted as the most aggressive model, 291 horsepower through a highly-intelligent all-wheel drive system meant performance potential which could rival most sports cars.

The current Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution is expected to remain in production through 2012 model year with the possibility of 2013 being the ultimate last production run. The Lancer sedan itself is likely to continue following Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution’s ceasing production.

With no plans for carrying on the Evo version of the Mitsubishi Lancer, it remains to be seen if their could be an Evolution in the future. Besides trumpeting in horsepower, high-performance vechicles are known to inspire a rather passionate following too many automakers have regretted ignoring. The demise of the Camaro in 2002 proved costly to the image of Chevrolet as the GM-based pony car was clearly missed by fans. The recent return of the Chevrolet Camaro sent a massive surge of energy through the new General Motors just in time to benefit the company emerging from bankruptcy. Chrysler’s Dodge brand were more prompt when they were canceling production of the current Viper supercar. Realizing they were taking the spirit away from the division, Chrysler quickly reassured the public a new Dodge Viper is on the way.

Approaching 20 years transforming the sport compact category, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution will become a noticeable departure.

Information source: Automotive News, Mitsubishi Motors
Photo source: Mitsubishi Motors

Chris Nagy

Chris Nagy

Automotive Editor
Admiring automobiles ever since childhood viewership of the TV show Knight Rider, Chris Nagy grew as an enthusiast enroute to become an automotive and motorsport writer. Drawn to the rich world of motoring, Chris discovers charm everywhere in the industry from supercars like the Bugatti Veyron to a Kia Soul. Car design, engineering, performance and the passion itself fuels his daily existence.
Chris Nagy

@ChrisnagyCarGuy

Mech Eng. Grad, Automotive & Motorsport Journalist with a wide range of intrigue. An Unsuccessful Quitter Who Continues to Try.
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  • http://autoesque.blogspot.com/ Autoesque

    The Evo X may be very rapid, but its fuel consumption and emissions are appallingly bad.

    However, that doesn't mean Mitsubishi should stop building it – why not make the Evo XI a hybrid, if that's the technology it wants to showcase?

    Otherwise, it's going to end up with a range of cars that fits firmly into the 'worthy but dull' category.