Drive – Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX Review

30 Mar 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Drive – Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX Review
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution

Bruce Newton

Make MITSUBISHI Model LANCER Price $56,789 (manual), plus options and costs. Series Year 2009 Body Group sedan Brakes Ventilated front and rear discs, ABS with EBD. Fuel Consumption 10.6 L/100 km. Fuel Tank Size 55-litre tank. Insurance $1852 (RACV, 40-year-old rating-one male, medium-risk suburb, $450 excess.) Kerb Weight 1410 kg Power 206 kW at 6500 rpm.

Safety Equipment Dual front airbags; height-adjustable, pretensioning and force-limiting front seatbelts; lap-sash seatbelts for all passengers. Steering Rack-and-pinion power steering, 2.1 turns lock to lock. Turning circle 11.6 m. Suspension Front: Independent by inverted MacPherson struts, coil springs and stabiliser bar. Rear: Independent by multi-links, coil springs, shock absorbers and stabiliser bar. Torque 355 Nm at 3000 rpm.

Transmission/Driven Wheels Six-speed manual, all-wheel-drive. Warranty 5 years/130,000 km. Wheels/Tyres 17 x 8.0-inch alloy wheels, tyres 235/45. Space-saver spare wheel.

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If driving for you is a means to an end – a necessary interlude between leaving and arriving – there is nothing for you to read here.

However, if the driving is as important for you as the destination, then just maybe Mitsubishi’s turbocharged all-wheel-drive Lancer Evolution IX is your kind of car.

Just maybe, mind, because this rally-inspired rocket is so focused, sharp and unyielding that you could still dearly love driving and hate this car.

Its highly tuned 2.0-litre engine changes like night and day from hibernating to hyperactive depending on where the needle hovers in the tacho. Vibration and noise shudder the senses constantly.

The six-speed manual gearbox – the only transmission choice – shifts notchily, the clutch pedal offers only a narrow take-up range so stalling is not uncommon.

The ride is like rocks, banging on lumpy bitumen. The low Pirelli PZero Corsa tyres tram-track from one corrugation to another. Tyre noise invades the cabin with the subtlety of a pack of All Black forwards, gravel machine-guns the unprotected wheel arches on dirt roads.

Ironically, Mitsubishi sells IX as the most accessible and easiest Evo to drive. Ever.

The introduction of Mivec variable valve timing, a reprofiled twin scroll turbocharger and other internal modifications such as longer spark plugs mean the legendary 4G63 2.0-litre engine is more powerful and offers a meatier torque curve. Officially, this results in improved fuel consumption and performance times, but it also gives a greater degree of flexibility and part-throttle response. The six-speed close-ratio transmission that replaces the Evo VIII’s five-speed helps, too.

Below 3000 rpm the Evo IX offers little reward, but as the turbo winds up, it explodes through the mid-range and on into the top end. It’s violent and ragged, singing its thrash-metal song to the 7000 rpm redline.

When you consider that this engine delivers 6.0-litre V8-beating sub-six-second 0-100 km/h dashes and mid to high 13 seconds 400 m times, then some pain for so much gain is understandable. These are the verified results of independent testing.

What is more fanciful is the official 10.6 L/100 km fuel consumption claim. Drive managed 15.6 L/100 km over a variety of roads and driving conditions. A recent magazine test averaged a horrific 20.9 L/100 km!

On 98 octane, of course.

It could be worse. The Evo IX went on a substantial diet, shaving 60 kilograms courtesy of an aluminium roof and door-intrusion bars. Even the 17-inch Enkei alloy wheels are each 150 grams lighter.

The result is a 1410-kilogram kerb weight. That’s more than 400 kilograms lighter than FPV’s GT-P Falcon.

Mitsubishi made sure IX retained the Evo’s legendary handling by spot-welding the lighter body in 200 extra places to keep it tight, inverting the MacPherson strut front suspension to reduce unsprung weight and lowering the rear ride height with new springs.

Most importantly, it didn’t fiddle with the adjustable Active Centre Differential and Super Active Yaw Control systems. Computer-controlled, they work to distribute torque fore-aft and side-to-side around the constant all-wheel-drive system. These electronic safety nets keep the Evo on course at speed.

Together, they marshal the engine’s excesses and driver inputs in a remarkable way.

Add go-kart steering, strong Brembo brakes, grippy Pirelli tyres and a suspension tune that improves as speed rises and you will feel confident behind the wheel. On winding tarmac this car has few peers; on dirt it is unbeatably quick.

With IX, the Evo becomes a full-time member of the Mitsubishi Australia range, rather than a limited import. That plays a key role in the price reduction to a tasty $56,789 (the sequential numbering is intentional, by the way). That’s $3201 cheaper than its closest opposition, the hyped-up Subaru WRX STi.

For IX, the interior includes a faux carbon-fibre look for the dash and three black spokes for the Momo steering wheel.

New standard equipment includes climate control, six-CD stacker and a GPS-based vehicle tracking system. That lot joins Evo VIII carry-overs including excellent Alcantara suede and leather sports seats, dual airbags and ABS braking with EBD.

The Mitsubishi logo floats on a mesh grille, rather than sitting within the VIII’s Mount Fuji centre partition. Oval ducts feed the front-mounted intercooler and a new diffuser reduces rear drag. The bonnet vent, surfboard wing and punched-out guards remain.

IX signals the last important update to Evo before it migrates to a new generation in 2008, just like the rest of the Lancer range. Evo X – previewed at the Tokyo show last year – promises to be a quantum leap.

But replacement will not render Evo IX obsolete. It will come to be regarded as a classic hardcore sports sedan.

What’s it got?

Alloy wheels, Recaro front sports seats, Alcantara suede and leather seat trim, leather-wrapped Momo steering wheel, climate control, audio system with six-CD in-dash player, power windows, alloy sports pedals, body kit, remote central locking, DataDot security, GPS-based tracking system.

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution

What’s missing?

Reach adjustment for steering wheel, cruise control.

Price and equipment

Rating: 3.0 out of 5 stars

There is an intended symmetry to the Evo IX#8217;s $56,789 price tag. It also has the practical effect of keeping it under the luxury car tax. Mind you, one look around the rather Spartan cabin is enough to realise linking luxury with this Lancer is a misnomer.

Yes, it now gets climate control and six CD audio, to go with the part-leather trim. But much of it looks and feels old from the driver#8217;s seat.

Under the bonnet

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

The 4G63 2.0-litre turbocharged and intercooled engine is an absolute classis. But with the addition of variable valve timing, a new turbo and some internal fettling it lifts another grade for Evo IX. The raw numbers #8211; 206kW and 355Nm – are pretty good and the delivery has been smoothed out.

But it#8217;s still raw stuff, offering little until you get to the mid-range. Then all hell breaks loose. A six-speed gearbox manual means an extra ratio compared to Evo VIII and that helps milk the engine#8217;s awesome potential.

How it drives

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Light weight and massive power mean Evo IX is very quick in a straight line. But where this car really shines is in the bends. With all-wheel drive controlled by computers that distribute torque front to rear and side-to-side depending on a whole bunch of inputs, this is a remarkably quick car. Its bitumen ability is only surpassed by its behaviour on gravel.

Then it is quite simply brilliant.

Comfort and practicality

Rating: 2.0 out of 5 stars

Not for everyone. In fact, not for many people at all. Noisy, rough riding and only offered as a manual, the Evo IX is far too hard core for most people#8217;s tastes.

If that doesn#8217;t put you off then check out the extravagant exterior styling.

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution

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