Mitsubishi mulls Lancer Evolution's future

Will there be an Evolution XI? Mitsubishi’s most senior executives are well aware of their all-wheel-drive turbo sedan’s icon status, but a replacement for the Evo X, introduced in Japan in 2007, isn’t going to happen any time soon. If it happens at all…

“We consider Evolution like Pajero,” says Ryugo Nakao, underlining the performance car’s importance in defining the company’s image. But Mitsubishi Motors Corporation’s product project and strategy chief says the company has higher priorities at present. Its Tokyo motor show concepts signal a shift in focus to renewal of MMC’s key SUVs and the development of plug-in hybrid technology.

Both are Mitsubishi strengths, says Nakao. But the company lacks the resources to simultaneously develop a sports car and eco drivetrains at the same time. “Too difficult for a company of our size,” confirms MMC president Osamu Masuko. But Masuko says there is a possibility of a replacement for the Evo X, and he has clear ideas of what it should be.

The present Lancer is too large, he thinks, so the Evo XI would be smaller. And it would utilise the technology being developed for Mitsubishi’s near-future SUVs, previewed by the company’s Tokyo concepts. Both the Concept XR, which previews the next ASX due in 2015 or 2016, and Concept GC, which points to the shape of the fifth-generation Pajero, feature PHEV (for Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) drivetrains.

There’s no doubt an Evo XI using such tech could deliver a proper performance jolt. Plug-in hybrids like the BMW i8 and super-exclusive Porsche 918 Spyder and McLaren P1 are proving its ample potential.

With Mitsubishi working to bring down the cost of plug-in hybrid technology for its SUVs, the Evo XI could be one of the first to bring electro-exotic performance to market for a relatively affordable price. All they need to do is decide to build it…

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