The Lancer Evo is a car that drove straight through the television, punched the Subaru WRX STI in the face, and quickly disappeared into oblivion
Growing up in the city of Chattogram, the go to car for me and my friends was The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, also known as 'Evo'. The sports sedan based on the Lancer, was manufactured by Japanese manufacturer Mitsubishi Motors from 1992 until 2016. To date, there has been ten official versions of the 'Evo' and a common dispute among us was which generation was our favourite.
For me it always has been the Evolution VIII that had an impact on my imagination, it being the first Lancer Evo I ever came in contact with it.
The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII underwent a modification yet again in 2003. This time sporting 17-inch grey Enkei wheels, Brembo brakes, Bilstein shocks to handle traction, and a 5-speed manual gearbox with 280 PS.
Originally produced as a one off model, sales of the vehicle was so successful across the world that by 2005 it was available in four trims: the standard GSR model in Japan; the RS, 5-speed gearbox, and standard wheels; the SSL and the MR, which came with a revised front limited-slip differential, aluminium MR shift knob, handbrake with carbon fibre handle, 17-inch BBS wheels, aluminium roof, and a 6-speed manual gearbox. The new Evolution also sported chrome housing taillights and headlights.
For those in the states, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo is a car that drove straight from Japan, through our TV screens, punched the Subaru WRX STI in the face, and quickly disappeared into oblivion.
But the story of this car going into retirement is a tragedy. Mitsubishi's rally car for the road hadn't received a facelift in almost a decade. Its drivetrain was outgunned by newer, turbocharged, all-wheel-drive machines and the entire Mitsubishi brand was collapsing from lack of new car development. And now, it is no more.
Fortunately though, Evos are still popular in Bangladesh with the automobile being sighted across the country. But the true question is for how long? With production of Lance Evo being stopped, car parts are not available as they used to be even a few years back. Only time will tell when the car will face extinction.
The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII has slick-response Bilstein shocks for improved handling. The aluminium roof panel and other reductions in body weight have lowered the centre of gravity to produce more natural roll characteristics. Detail improvements have also been made to Mitsubishi's own electronic four-wheel drive, to the ACD 5 + Super AYC 6 traction control, and to the Sports ABS systems. Other parts on the MR include BBS alloy wheels and an aluminium roof.
Most Evolution VIIIs have a carbon fibre rear spoiler with matching body-colour endplates. All Evos have lightweight aluminium front fenders and hoods. The basic RS Edition however does not come with power windows, locks, or mirrors, an audio system, rear wing, sound deadening material, map lamps or an anti-lock braking system.
The Evo distinguished itself from a normal Lancer by having a more aggressive front bumper, which housed a protruding front-mounted intercooler, a set of xenon HID headlights, an aluminium vented hood and roof.
The trunk at the back is huge. It is a little less cavernous than in a standard normal Lancer because of that all-wheel-drive system under there, but it is able to swallow a full grocery order or a couple of golf bags.
For the Evo VIII, engineers tinkered with turbine and camshaft geometry to boost torque from 392Nm to 400Nm at 3500rpm. The upgrade in torque is welcome as the tacho spins hungrily all the way up to the 7000rpm redline, with huge gushes of grunt on line anywhere above 5000. Maximum power remains unchanged at 206kW at 6500rpm.
Other than that, the car's core specifications stayed pretty much intact for each generation; it was always powered by a 2.0-liter turbo engine, was always all-wheel-drive, and was always around 300hp.
When it comes to interior, the car feels and looks pretty cheap. Fun fact, Mitsubishi actually tried to spice up the cabin to justify the high sales price with 'softer' materials to make the car feel more 'upscale'. In reality, they totally failed. There is no styling inside the car whatsoever. Yes, the dashboard has some gauges added to them but they are completely useless. The Evo has a boring and ugly Lancer dashboard, even more so than the slightly more premium Evos that followed through. When compared with other economy sedans, this car is a complete joke.
The Recaros (seats) are kind of hard to live with and gets uncomfortable on long rides. They also take up a lot of space, as if they were an afterthought. Unless you've got the hands of a hobbit, good luck grabbing your phone or some pocket change if they fall between the seat and the door.
Being a Lancer, it is small, somewhat spacious and easy to park around the city. The vehicle also has a decent-sized bench in the rear, more than enough to fit a baby or even some of your few bros.
Putting the keys in the ignition and hitting the gas pedal revels a completely different personality. The car is fast and loud. If I was to use one word to describe the vehicle, it is 'legendary'. The clutch is heavy and bites hard. Release it and you'll hear a light 'thunk' emitting from the drivetrain. You hear the driveshaft quietly doing its thing from underneath as you pushing the car hard. The engine whines, growls and chirps along the way. The massive performance brakes squeak. You can actually hear the wastegate evacuating unused exhaust gases.
Unlike some of today's sport compacts, the Evo VIII was much more than a marketing exercise. It came from a relatively small company that didn't have a massive budget to develop a performance car, and that shows inside. What it had instead was a talented group of engineers who managed to put together one of the most iconic purpose-built performance machines of all time.
The Evo VIII was the underdog that gave its competitors a run for its money. It was another one of those cool cars that we love because it never apologised for what it was. There simply cannot be a substitute for the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution.