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Lancer Evo's diesel future

2010-06-13 21:09

Mitsubishi engineers promise the hybrid-diesel Evo XI will still have unparalleled back road racing abilities, despite the odd acoustics consequences.

Having trimmed its motorsport activities severely (binning the WRC and Dakar teams), Mitsubishi’s been at its wits end about what to do with its fabled Lancer Evo four-door supercar killer.

Headlining a radical performance derivative without any motorsport lineage hardly makes sense and Mitsubishi’s seriously considered deleting the Evo moniker from its Lancer range for good.

Fortunately, engineers baulked at the notion of nearly two decades of performance heritage being undone in a moment of mismanagement. Funding has been secured and powertrain engineers are now feverishly at work on the Evo XI.

Out with the sparkplugs…

Mitsubishi’s Evo XI is tipped to feature a significant change in drivetrain configuration. There’s now subtle way of stating the face – it’s going to be a diesel hybrid.

Purists will probably hang themselves from the bootlid spoiler wings of their Evos instead of embracing a compression-ignition Evo XI, yet Mitsubishi’s engineers are determined to ensure the car retains supercar baiting performance and dynamics.

Brand neutral enthusiasts will openly question why Mitsubishi does not invest its resources to realise a workable partnership of petrol power with an electric motor, yet a project evaluating such a drivetrain was canned a month ago due to an unacceptable lack of mid-range power.

The reason for a switch to hybrid diesel power is simply to safeguard the Evo’s future in a time of rampant emissions regulation. Mitsubishi’s engineers believe they can produce a turbocharged diesel feulled engine, augmented by an electric motor, capable of chirping from 0-100km/h in under five seconds with a CO2 signature of less than 200g/km.

Converting the Evo to a compression ignition hybrid is a laudable engineering directive, yet it will effectively halt any future competition opportunities for the Lancer Evo brand. How well a Lancer Evo diesel will be received in Japan and the US, two of the brand’s most important yet vehemently anti-diesel markets, remains a gamble of epic proportions.


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