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Road Test


Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX

by Stephen Walker

29th December, 2006


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The theory of evolution carries no water. But evolution, as it relates to Mitsubishi's Lancer is a completely different story!

With Mitsubishi's long history in rallying, the Lancer has evolved over the years. And the sportiest Lancer of all is the highly regarded Evolution model.

The Evo (as the Evolution series is affectionately known) is now at number 9. That means number 10 is next, but it is far too early to think about it as it is still more than a year away.

On the road, the Evo IX clearly demonstrates its performance heritage. The 2-litre 16-valve double overhead camshaft, intercooled and turbocharged four-cylinder engine (known as 4G63 for those who need to know these things) roars upon acceleration providing immense satisfaction as the revs climb. The aural aspects are pleasing to the ears too!

The statistics speak for themselves; some 206 kW of power at 6,000 rpm and maximum torque of 355 Nm at a low 3,000 rpm. How's that! Little wonder this 1,410 kg machine can rocket its way into your mind.

The grip on the tarmac is so strong it just has to be experienced to be appreciated. This all-wheel drive car is as sure-footed as any! No further comment required!

However, we will comment. Back in August 2005 we reported .... "It is the car’s handling that sets Lancer Evolution apart from its imitators and this is achieved through Mitsubishi’s electronically controlled advanced 4WD drive-train. The harmonious integration – by a single ECU – of the Active Centre Differential, Super Active Yaw Control and Sports ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution has resulted in awesome advances in acceleration, speed, cornering, braking and other dynamic performance parameters."

We went on to report .... "However, such performance development would be irresponsible if the roadholding and braking was not commensurate with the car’s capabilities and Evo IX’s inverted MacPherson strut and coil-over front suspension and multi-link and coil rear suspension makes sure that the drive gets to the road. Add 235/45ZR17 high performance tyres and the huge (320mm front, 300mm rear) Brembo ventilated disc brakes to the equation and the Evo IX driver is assured their car will handle and stop as they would wish."

Hmmm, enough said!

It is that performance that provides the edge to the Lancer.

It looks like it goes and it goes like it looks!

Fact is, this sort of performance isn't really required for road-going cars, but it sure feels good as you put your foot down. Needless to say, this sort of performance should only be guided by a fully experienced and responsible driver. And that's because each and every envied Evo employs energetic enlightenment, establishing excited enjoyment everywhere, even exaggerating extreme enthusiasm, ensuring esteemed Evos emerge earning eager elation!

Uh, what was that!

But the Lancer Evo IX is more than performance and handling. It is a overall package that attracts buyers. But, be sure, it is the performance that gives the car its heritage and its appeal.

On the subject of appeal, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX attracted more than its fair share of attention. Just 200 metres into the road test we observed the first on-looker, a pedestrian, nearly fall over a gutter because (presumably) the bright yellow paintwork attracted his attention and ensured his eyes were fixed to this car rather than the gutter which was in front of him. On our photo shoot, neighbours gathered and one could not constrain himself and he just had to know which Evo was before him. Others gathered as we stopped at a lookout in the Watagan Mountains, stunned that an Evo was before them. When you're driving an Evo IX you quickly appreciate that this car has pulling power and it produces an excessive amount of talk!

Clearly, the Next Car team is not alone in enjoying the Lancer Evolution IX.

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But the Evo IX isn't perfect. Being an older car (this shape Lancer has been around for some years), means the Lancer Evo IX has just two airbags. We'll assume the Evo X, when it arrives in 2008, will also have side curtain bags. Other aspects of old age are the limited functions of the power windows, no lane changing indicators, no self-locking doors, no internal central locking control and no telescopic adjustment for the steering wheel. Presumably, many of these features will be addressed in the next model. But for now, we must accept that all models face their final days and reality suggests that this older model has had a mighty fine career. Nothing detracts from the Lancer Evolution because it is just so much fun to drive. It's career continues and many astute buyers will be wanting to acquire their Evo IX to enjoy their motoring prior to the release of the Evolution X.

The tough-effect gearchange is good to use as the clutch is light, the brakes are superb, the steering is good, the firm ride is appreciated, the luggage space is admirable, the handling is unbelievable, the visual effect is appealing, the pose value is unquestioned, the get up and go is brilliant and the comfort is fine (even for the rear seat passengers). But that is not all, the traction is fantastic.

The front rally seats are good and provide support during spirited driving, just as expected.

The current Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX is priced from $56,789 (RRP). No doubt the remaining stocks will be enjoyed by enthusiasts at this price. Oh, yes, five six seven eight nine, it seems someone has a good sense of humour at Mitsubishi's pricing department!

Perhaps you've formed the view that the 1,370 km run we had around Sydney and more spefically, around the Hunter Valley in NSW, in the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX was enjoyed by the Next Car team. You're correct, the Lancer Evo provided immense driving satisfaction and made us appreciate that the production series of the Evo is a direct result of the retail automotive market rewarding Mitsubishi for the Lancer's impressive heritage.

Yes, the theory of evolution is flawed and, as such, carries no weight. But the Lancer Evolution IX can bear any argument and come out victorious. Indeed, the Evo can carry the weight of any argument .... convincingly!

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