With a seemingly never-ending string of Mitsubishi
Evolution Lancers it’s easy to become dismissive. Another year, another Evo... But
don’t be fooled. Step into the current Evo 9 (or any late-model Evo for that
matter!) and you’re in for the ride of your life.
And that’s nothing to be blasé about!
The Evolution 9 is, at the time of writing, the
current Evo model in Japan and is available locally through Mitsubishi
Australia. Retailing for AUD$56,789, the E9 is the direct competitor to the
Impreza STi. On paper, there’s not a lot to separate the pair except the STi has
the advantage of a 2.5-litre engine while the Evo hits back with Super AYC to
The biggest evolutionary development in the Evo 9
is the introduction of MIVEC. But don’t get too excited – it doesn’t alter valve
lift, just inlet valve timing. Evo lovers will also note that the turbocharger
has been modified for greater response, a stronger timing belt has been employed
(to accommodate the MIVEC system) and there are a few other minor engine changes.
The result of these changes is increased power and torque over the previous
Australian-spec Evo 8 - there’s now 206kW at 6000 rpm along with 355Nm of torque
at 3000 rpm. Ninety-eight RON fuel is necessary to achieve these outputs.
Driving through a relatively short ratio six-speed
manual gearbox, the Evo 9 engine offers good flexibility in urban driving. Low
rpm torque is not particularly strong (below about 3000 rpm you’re left waiting
for meaningful turbo boost to arrive) but there’s more than enough mid-range
torque to sit you back in your seat. Continuing to around 6000 rpm, the Evo is
Overall, Evo 9 engine feels very similar to highly
tuned 2-litre turbo engines of the mid ‘90s. But it’s the way the Evo uses every
available kilowatt that really impresses.
With constant AWD and sophisticated electronic
driveline control, the E9 gets its power down regardless of conditions and, with
the right launch, it can be shatteringly quick. Mitsubishi claims 0 – 100 km/h
in 5.7 seconds and a 13.6 second quarter mile. No torque-steer, no tramping and
no misbehaving – the Evo gets down an’ goes!
But it’s through corners where the Evo stands out.
With its electronic driveline controls – Super AYC (Active Yaw Control) and ACD
(Active Centre Differential) – this is a car that gives responsive turn-in (a
trait not normally associated with constant AWDs) and a degree of mid-corner
control and flexibility that’s beyond belief. Oversteer and understeer is part
of the Evo repertoire and it’s wonderfully progressive transitioning to each.
And don’t think you need to be a professional driver to string together a series
of quick corners – the Evo makes even the most mediocre driver feel like
The steering – an often underestimated aspect of a
performance car – is spot-on given the Evo’s sporting abilities. It’s well
weighted, direct (at just 2.2 turns lock-to-lock) and, above all, inspires
confidence. So too the brakes – Brembo four-pot front and two-pot rear calipers
with sports calibrated ABS and EBD. The suspension – now with an inverted
MacPherson strut front-end and a multi-link rear - provides a very firm ride.
The interior – while more comfortable and refined
than the previous generation Evo – has the feel of a car costing around
AUD$20,000 less. There’s no cruise control, trip computer, folding rear seat and
the cabin plastics are pretty cheap. On the other hand, the Evo’s wrap-around
Recaro seats offer plenty of lateral support and the cabin offers decent overall
space given the Lancer’s external dimensions. Standard equipment includes
aluminium pedals and sporty trim highlights, a Momo wheel, climate control,
intercooler water spray switch, a six-stack CD audio system and twin airbags. An
immobilser, GPS tracking system and Data Dots protect this ever-appealing hoon
machine falling into the wrong hands.
Visually, there’s not a lot to identify the Evo 9
from the Evo 8 – just a redesigned front bumper, rear diffuser and a choice of
17 inch wheels. The standard wheels are made by ENKEI while an optional
Performance Pack comprises ultra lightweight BBS wheels together with Bilstein
dampers. Mitsubishi has also incorporated 200 additional spot-welds to improve
body rigidity and employed an aluminum roof to lower the centre of gravity and
overall mass. The side intrusion bars, bonnet and front guards are also made
from aluminium while the rear wing is moulded in carbon fibre. Mitsubishi claims
a kerb weight of 1410kg – 60kg lighter than the previous model.
Interestingly, the Evo 9 is the first Evolution
model to be adopted as part of the ‘mainstream’ Mitsubishi Australia line-up –
it’s no longer a limited edition special. This means you get the full benefit of
Mitsubishi’s standard 5 year/130,000km warranty coverage – a major advantage
over the Subaru STi with only a 3 year/unlimited kilometre warranty. The Evo
also has plenty of interesting accessories available – like an earthing cable
kit, a Gurney flap for the rear wing, vortex generators for the trailing edge of
the roof and an adjustable weight gear knob.
The Evo 9 might be just another number in a blur
of Evolution models but make no mistake – this car is awesome!
The Evolution 9 was loaned for this review by MRT
Did you enjoy this article?
Please consider supporting AutoSpeed with a small contribution. More Info...