One of our all-time favourite supercars, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 7,
is now available at a price that puts it within reach of a new Subaru WRX
Since our first encounter with the Evo 7 in 2002 (see Today's Evolution),
the go-fast Mitsi has been superseded by the Evo 8, Evo 8 MR and Evo 9. The Evo 7 can now be picked up for under AUD$50,000 – in the same ball-park as a new WRX with a couple of aftermarket
Interestingly, the Evo 7 is one of the most unpopular models in the Evo
range. If you want all-out performance, most people will tell you to go for the
lightweight previous generation Evo 6. And, if you must have the later series, the Evo 8
MR or Evo 9 (with an aluminium roof and improved suspension) is the weapon you
But don’t be put off by misguided opinion – from its steering and suspension
to its engine and brakes, the Evo 7 is a true performance car.
The Evo 7’s biggest trump card is the phenomenal handling and stability
that’s aided by its electronic-controlled AYC (Active Yaw Control) and ACD
(Active Centre Diff) systems. The AYC system alters the torque apportioned to
the left and right rear wheels while ACD (with 3 user-selectable drive modes)
alters front-to-rear torque-split characteristics.
The Evo 7 is handles differently to most AWD turbos – it’s beautifully
balanced, turns in sweetly and is easily flicked into oversteer. The chassis is
extremely stable through the middle of a corner and, from there, the AWD system
gives total traction for a fast, fuss-free getaway. Grip is ample thanks to
235/45 17 tyres.
The Evo 7’s surefootedness and handling balance are incredible.
Combine this with very direct power-assisted rack and pinion steering and the
Evo 7 can be weaved through a series of corners with precision. Brembo
is the name on the 4-pot front and 2-pot rear calipers. These give the Evo
brilliant stopping power while maintaining excellent pedal weight and feel.
Front cooling ducts ensure the front brakes don’t overheat when pushed.
And what lives under the bonnet?
Well, the Evo 7 uses the 4G63 2.0 litre DOHC turbo that first saw light in
the Japanese-spec Galant VR4 of 1988. In E7 guise, the 2 litre engine uses
hollow camshafts, a big oil cooler, revised intake
manifold, twin scroll turbine housing, a front-mount air-to-air intercooler with
a triple nozzle water spray, and a large straight-through exhaust with a
dual-stage muffler. Mitsubishi claims the engine makes 206kW at 6500 rpm and
383Nm at 3500 rpm. In reality the output is closer to around 230kW.
The Evo 7’s 5-speed gearbox contains very short, closely-stacked ratios that
improve the on-road flexibility of the tuned 2 litre. The ‘box has a decisive
shift feel and the clutch is relatively light.
In our previous test of the (then new) Evo 7 we commented that the engine
isn’t too bad when caught off boost – “the Evo isn't a total sad-case when
lumbering off boost - it simply isn't performing at its absolute best.”
In contrast, the second-hand example tested here felt quite doughy – almost as
if the cam timing was incorrect. Note that when we picked it up, this particular car was also filled
with normal unleaded fuel – even when filled with 98 RON fuel, the ECU might have been
operating in a very conservative tune.
With a gentle launch and two people on board, our white test car could accelerate
to 100 km/h in the mid 6 second range. With a well rehearsed launch, you should
be able to crack into the 5s – Mitsubishi claims 5.3 seconds (on Japanese 100
Slow? Not exactly...
The Evo 7 interior is built to a higher standard than earlier models and
offers good occupant space. The common GSR model is equipped with electric
windows, analogue climate control, Recaro trim, dual airbags and an ACD switch
and display. The motorsport oriented RS version gets a stripped interior with no
airbags, stereo or climate control. It also uses a less sophisticated driveline.
The Evo 7 GSR’s Recaro front seats are a tight fit but you get comfortable
within a few minutes. But there are some obvious cost and weight saving measures
that detract from the Evo 7’s day-to-day user friendliness – for example there
aren’t any rear door switches for the interior light.
The ride is extremely firm but acceptable. Using sports-tuned MacPherson
struts at the front and a multi-link rear, you’ll feel every bump in the road -
but it’s not crash-bang harsh. The body is also noticeably more rigid than the
previous generation Evo.
Visually, the Evo 7 is well coordinated despite the considerable number of
aero parts. The blistered guards (which are necessary for wheel clearance), deep
sport-spec bumpers and side skirts are well integrated with the original body
shape. An adjustable high-rise rear wing, bonnet vents and a NACA duct further
add to the E7’s sense of purpose. The kerb weight is kept down to 1400kg using a
thin roof panel, aluminium bonnet and front guards.
The Evo 7 – which was sold in Japan from 2001
to 2003 – can be purchased in
Australia as a
‘grey’ import. The white example seen here is a fairly typical example with
around 40,000km on the odometer and is offered for sale at AUD$49,990. Our test
car was supplied by Sports and Luxury Cars through Grand Turismo Auto (see
Contacts for details).
For around 50 grand the Lancer Evo 7 provides an incredible amount of
performance hardware for the dollar. If you’re thinking about buying a new WRX
with some enhancements, it’s a very worthy alternative.
From early 2002 the Lancer Evo 7 was sold in
Japan with an
optional automatic transmission. The auto Evo 7 (known as the GT-A) is detuned
to 200kW and the GSR’s standard Recaro trim fitted as an option. However, the
GT-A does retain the magnificent AYC and ACD enhanced handling and compared to the manual version, is easier to
drive on a daily basis.
Well worth a look.
See Evo with Auto?!
for our test of the Evo 7 GT-A.
For further technical details of the Evo 7 see Dissecting the Lancer Evo 7
Sports and Luxury Cars
+61 3 9753 5799
Gran Turismo Auto +61 3 9329 3335
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