According to reports from many automotive sources, Mitsubishi is scheduled to end the long production run of the Lancer Evolution later in the year. Road and Track says that Mitsubishi currently does not have plans for the all-wheel drive 4 cylinder turbocharged rally sedan, bringing a end to a 20+ year production run.
We remember a time when 4G63 fans and drivers of DSMs ( Diamond Star Motors ) wanted nothing more than to bring the 4 door sedan stateside, and when Mitsubishi finally gave in in 2003 we loved every bit of the Evolution 7. Our own Project Evo VII went on to put down 445 awhp with just a few modifications, which wasn’t hard given our extensive background in the 4G63.
The Evolution X certainly stood apart, as the Evolution left the 4G63 behind in an effort to beef up the rather quirky and petulant drivetrain. Installing aftermarket camshafts, an aftermarket turbocharger and intercooler, and installing upgraded fuel pump and fuel injectors were just one step in the process.
Flipping the 4G63 around and upgrading the transmission overall for increased durability, brought about the 4B11T to replace the now legendary 4G63.
If the reports are true it’s truly a sad day for Mitsubishi Evolution and to a lesser extent 4G63 DSM fans, and even import enthusiasts worldwide. Mitsubishi spokeswoman Namie Koketsu gave Road and Track the following quote regarding the loved all wheel drive sedan.
“Mitsubishi Motors does not have any plans to design a successor with the current concept, as a high-performance four-wheel-drive gasoline-powered sedan,”
What’s next for the Japanese automaker? With the advent of the Nissan Zeod, as well as the advancements in the electric car and motors, it certainly seems like Mitsubishi is hopping aboard the hybrid sports car model.
Koketsu went on to elaborate further on the future of the sports cars from Mitsubishi, stating that they would “explore the possibilities of high-performance models that incorporate electric vehicle technology” but did not imply it would carry the Evolution nameplate.
Where did it all go wrong? Mitsubishi had over 15 years to establish themselves in North America with the Diamond Star Motors group of performance vehicles, which included the Eclipse, Talon and Laser. Sharing a powerplant and transmission with the Evolution, it gave US enthusiasts a chance to try the all wheel drive and robust turbocharged 4G63.
Some say that the infamous “crankwalk” issue that resulted in hundreds of faulty 4G63’s caused a negative stigma to be associated with the 4G63, while others will argue the true value of a sub $40,000 import sports sedan in America. We happen to think it was Mitsubishi’s decision to pull out of the WRC and stop rallying that prevented the Evolution from doing what it’s namesake implies.. Evolve.
A conscious decision from Mitsubishi to leave it’s rallying roots and focus on SUV’s and crossovers now has it in a complete bind, with consumers looking green and to minimize their carbon footprint. Mitsubishi’s smaller coupes and econo-box sedans are keeping the Japanese automaker afloat, but who knows for how long?
All this news has us a bit nostalgic, a feeling no doubt replicated in the halls of Mitsubishi North America and Japan. A look across to their competitor and rival Subaru, shows the newest WRX STI released earlier this year. No doubt a clear message that their Evolution performance flagship has obviously been mismanaged and thus a failure from a corporate standpoint.
We certainly hope that the Evolution will continue on under perhaps a hybrid electric / gasoline powered model, but we aren’t holding our breath.
But no matter what the Japanese automaker decides, we’ll always fondly remember the Evolution as the revolutionary machine that won four consecutive WRC titles, and kicked plenty of butt with Jackie Chan.