Let the rally-derived performance car games begin! As the local media prepares for the launches of the next generation Mitsubishi Lancer and Subaru Impreza, Mitsubishi has announced details of the upcoming Evolution X.
The latest version of this legend is based on a new platform and will a totally redesigned engine to go along with its new interior and exterior styling.
With a development goal to make the new car as fast and as safe to drive as possible, Lancer Evolution X is loaded with new gizmos to go along with its fresh new image. The latest Evo's trapezoidal grille has fear-inducing headlights while at the rear the over-sized spoiler means business.
But beneath the metal, the new powertrain combines a turbocharged four-cylinder 16-valve 2.0-litre engine with a new Twin Clutch SST (Sport Shift Transmission). The engine has an aluminium block to aid its 12 kg weight saving over the previous unit.
This unit produces peak power of 206 kW at 6 500 r/min and torque of 422 Nm is on tap at 3 500 r/min.
Continuously variable valve timing (or MIVEC as Mitsubishi's take on the technology is known) to both intake and exhaust camshafts ensure optimal combustion for better power delivery across the rev range.
Other innovations include the rearward facing exhaust manifold that has allowed the engine to be mounted lower and therefore lowering the centre of gravity, while turbo-lag is said to be significantly improved with better low- to mid-range torque delivery.
The new twin-clutch transmission is a six-speed automated manual that works on much the same principle as the VW Group's DSG system.
Drivers will be able to choose between Autoshift fully automatic mode or Manual Shift that allows gear changes as with a manual gearbox, either with the gearshift or with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifts.
A five-speed manual gearbox designed to handle the stresses of the new engine's higher torque output is also available.
A toggle switch also allows drivers to choose between Normal, Sport and Super Sport driving modes, adapting the shift characteristics to suit a variety of driving conditions.
Designed from the outset to be the ultimate in performance sedans, the Exo X's new platform is said have increased stiffness and rigidity levels. The benefits of a wider track and longer wheelbase are two-fold since it aids stability as well as making the cabin more spacious than before.
To further increase the handling, weight reduction characteristics include the use of aluminium in the roof panel, front fenders and rear spoiler while the better weight distribution is achieved by dumping of the battery in the boot the lowered positioning of the engine.
The MacPherson strut and multi-link rear suspension setup is carried over though revised for application in the Evo X.
Mitsubishi's S-AWC (Super All Wheel Control) vehicle dynamics system offers full-time all-wheel drive while incorporating the centre differential, yaw control, sport ABS and stability control systems. It has three modes - tarmac, gravel and snow - to allow for greater stability, cornering and grip levels on varying surfaces.
The raft of safety equipment includes a knee airbags, adaptive lights, auto wipers and auto light control.
Inside the cabin, Recaro seats, a small diameter leather-wrapped steering wheel and black colour scheme spell business.
Locally, while Mitsubishi has not been able to confirm final dates, it is expected in the second half of 2008. Specification for the South African market has yet to be confirmed.