A little over a decade ago, Mitsubishi gave the Evolution X its UK airing
Mitsubishi is a Japanese car brand possessing a phenomenal history, not least on the racing circuits and rally stages of the world. While Lancer was its ‘everyman’ model, aimed at the motoring mainstream of 2007, the Evolution X would be the marque’s final fling in the motorsport-based scene; the tenth such iteration that had won World Rally Championships and made Finnish and British drivers, like Tommi Makinen and Richard Burns, household names.
When I first clapped eyes on the Evo X, I could not deny the feelings of excitement that coursed through my psyche. From its gaping radiator grille (less ‘gaping’ than it looked, as it was finished in black), past its blistered flanks, to its purposeful, below rear-bumper venturi and hoop rear spoiler, it was every inch a purpose-built road car. Its purpose was performance.
Thanks to a 2.0-litre turbocharged, four-cylinder petrol engine that kicked out a whopping 296bhp in standard form and became known as the ‘FQ300’, for reasons that will be obvious in a moment, it could despatch the 0-60mph benchmark in around 5.0s, before reaching a top speed of over 155mph. Mated to the company’s SST gearbox, which was a twin-clutch automated-manual type that demanded little more than a flex of a left, or right, finger on the magnesium alloy paddles (mounted behind the cross-spokes of the steering wheel) to shift down, or up, the six forward ratios at lightning speed, the full-on competition driving experience was always on tap.
Although my initial test drive would take in some of the best back-doubles in Warwickshire, my first acclimatisation was at the Prodrive Test Facility, located in the countryside west of the city of Warwick. Following a few fast laps of the tarmac circuit, I was encouraged to sample the more tortuous ‘handling circuit’; a blend of tarmac and concrete mixed surfaces that demanded total concentration to avoid clipping shrubbery, or the narrow track edges. Dismissing the traction control and dialling-in the most focussed of the car’s four-wheel-drive settings, apart from the car’s remarkable refinement, it was tough to believe I was driving anything but a very capable road car!
Even mashing the accelerator into the carpet in mid-corner revealed no ill effects. The Evo X delivered traction in abundance, even though its tail could be coaxed into lurid oversteering slides, virtually on a whim (access to 300lbs ft of torque helped). Despite punishing the brakes, to the point that the discs glowed orange, the Evo X could be stopped on a 20p piece. Yet, from the helm, it was all civilised, despite having to turn-in and turn-out to counter the incipient slides. Mitsubishi had engineered ‘fun’ into its lustiest Lancer.
The on-road exercise proved that the Evo X could mix it with regular traffic, at road-legal rates, to show no signs of waywardness, while overtakes were perfect arrow-head manoeuvres and the driver enjoyment factor was high. In exchange for £27,499, in ‘base’ GS form, it was well-equipped, although most buyers would opt for the GSR SST at £31,999, which featured a sat-nav system, a 30GB music server, 650W Rockford-Fosgate stereo system and a ‘trick’ trip computer in the package.
However, the tease of an FQ330, or FQ360, retuned engine (priced from £32,999 and £37,999 respectively in GSR trim), mated to a six-speed manual gearbox, ensured that the gamiest of Mitsubishi’s customers could have access (ultimately) to 0-60mph dashes in less than 4.0s, which is still supercar-taunting territory today. These cars had to be ordered as ‘aftermarket’ items but a high percentage of uptake was reported at the time.
Mitsubishi had already announced its withdrawal from the world motorsport scene and, after a few years of satisfying the high-performance family car sector, the Lancer ceased to be imported to the UK. The earliest Evo 2 to Evo 6 models are already attracting classic car values and status and it is only a matter of time before the Evo X does the same.
Luscombe’s summary: The same levels of capability and dependability that enabled Mitsubishi to win competition trophies and titles are embodied in every new model that we sell today.
Next week: Iain will introduce you to Stacey Reed
Mitsubishi manages Outlander PHEV’s advanced technology, so you don’t have to
While government grants can be described as incentives, the majority of PHEV customers invest in their cars, because they recognise the petrol-electric hybrid technology and the extra EV range that comes from plug-in rechargeability.
In just over two years, between November 2015 and January 2018, Mitsubishi more than doubled (to over 100,000 sales) its pan-European PHEV registrations and it remains the best-selling plug-in hybrid in the UK market. Yet, if you have wondered precisely how the PHEV system works, the following information may be of help to you.
The PHEV is known as a plug-in hybrid, because it can be hooked-up to a choice of three-pin domestic sockets (13amp – 5hrs to recharge fully), a dedicated domestic wall-charger (16amp – 3.5hrs) that takes advantage of off-peak electricity prices, or any one of a number of public EV charger sites (rapid-charger – 25mins for 80% charge) around the UK. The connecting cables are provided in a boot bag. You will hear of complaints from some observers, usually those persons not investing in a PHEV, that locating a fast-charging site is difficult and suffers from a lack of infrastructure. While the numbers are still low in real terms, finding a fast charger is not difficult at all and there are several within a 30-miles radius of Leeds and many more nationwide. You can confirm the details by logging onto Mitsubishi’s website.
However, the Outlander PHEV can also harvest brake energy that would be wasted in a conventional car. Using the steering column-located paddles, up to five different levels of self-recharging are possible and, on the highest setting, as soon as you remove your foot from the accelerator pedal, you will find that there is hardly a need to use the car’s brakes to slow it. There is even a switch that allows the driver to ‘save’ battery charge for later use. It can be monitored on the small screen between the main instrument dials, or using the on-board computer.
Mitsubishi’s technology uses twin electric motors (60kW front; 70kW rear) that are powered normally by the 2.4-litre petrol engine, which drives through a single geared transmission feeding both axles, because the PHEV does not need a conventional multi-ratio gearbox, even though it is a competent 4x4 vehicle. However, there are three separate driving modes available. The first and the default mode is EV (electric vehicle), in which the car can drive seamlessly, effortlessly, cleanly (there are zero CO2 emissions) and instantaneously for up to 33 miles (in a real test). The second is Series Hybrid mode, by which the petrol engine charges up the Lithium-ion battery pack (13.8kWh rating) located below the PHEV’s floor and it drives the wheels. The third mode is Parallel Hybrid, by which the battery assists the petrol engine and provides an additional boost for high-speed and hill-climbing demands.
The combined ‘fuel’ range is up to around 532-miles, starting with a full petrol tank and a fully-charged battery pack. Using the systems as intended, under the latest WTLP test regime, a total fuel economy could be as high as 159.5mpg, while even with a depleted battery, well over 50mpg can still be returned, which is impressive for such a large car that emits a mere 40.3g/km in engine alone mode. In an ideal world, the PHEV will never dip into its petrol reserve and, with electricity charges being around 37.5% of petrol, the savings are obvious. For the business person, a lowly 13% Benefit-in-Kind tax is stated for the PHEV.
Luscombe’s summary: So much more than either a 4x4, or a gifted hybrid car, the Outlander PHEV provides reliable EV transport, or petrol performance, on-demand and where circumstances may demand it.
Next week: Iain looks at Mitsubishi cruise control and the use of distance technology.
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