Mitsubishi says the Evo badge is not dead

Mitsubishi claim the Evo badge is not dead

Evo mad Mitsubishi MD Lance Bradley is confident the brand's move towards more environmentally friendly motors won't mean the death of the iconic Mitsubishi Evo.

The UK chief, who famously changed the firm's company car scheme so he could have an Evo as part of it, is desperate to see another performance car in his range.
However, as the brand is moving towards lower emissions models – like the plug-in hybrid Outlander and new Mirage – some fear that its famous performance car history is fading fast.

"It's certainly something that has been troubling me greatly," said Bradley. "But cars like the Pikes Peak challenge car, the i-Miev Evolution, show you can have an electric car that is a bit lunatic and a lot of fun.

"It's very important as our heritage has often been based on motorsport. I am a huge Evo fan and there has been talk of a hybrid version of the next Lancer – there could certainly be an Evo version of that. That's something I would be very keen on, but it's a couple of years off yet."

So the Evo brand is just resting then? "Well it's certainly not dead," reassured Bradley. "I love mad cars and am keen to get high performance cars back in the range, but the market changed. Where there was once a huge demand for mainstream performance vehicles the problem was emissions and the market slipped away dramatically. It wasn't just us – look at Subaru too."

With that in mind, is there still going to be a market for Mitsubishi Evos if the manufacturer ever did revive the name? "I don't think people stop wanting to enjoy driving or driving quickly, but something did change and there's now more of a requirement to be responsible and be seen to be responsible," added Bradley.

"I don't think those things are exclusive it just takes a while to catch up. I think within the next few years you will see some high performance Mitsubishis again but they will probably be electric or hybrid. The Evo name is definitely not dead – it's just taking a well-earned rest.

"Electric cars can be very exciting performance wise. There's no reason why a hybrid Evo should be compromised – in fact it can't be, as it still has to be an Evo. It's fine to use hybrid technology, but it must feel like an Evo. However, environmentally friendly it is, no one will buy it unless it excites like Evos did before."

Click on the gallery below for a brief history of the fabled Lancer Evolution

A brief history of the Mitsubishi Evo
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Mitsubishi says the Evo badge is not dead

The original Evo featured a 2-litre DOHC engine mated to an all-wheel-drive system. Top speed was around 142mph but it was the low price tag that attracted speed lovers.

Handling improvements and minor wheelbase adjustments were made to the second iteration, as were aggressive styling tweaks. An extra 10bhp was also added for good measure.

A new nose moulding and air-funnelling scoops started appearing on the third Evo as well as a hefty dose of horsepower.

Mitsubishi ripped up the Lancer platform with the IV. The engine was rotated to improve handling and reduce torque steer, while power increased again. Two massive fog lights stand this model out from the Evo crowd.

Minor tweaks were added to this model, including flared wheelarches and more prominent side skirts. The engine was strengthened and the turbocharger improved for smoother delivery of power.

More internal tweaks and a few styling extras were added to the VI but most importantly, a Ralliart version was available with a mighty 330bhp. It’s no wonder Tommi Mäkinen won so many WRC championships in one.

The seventh generation gained weight thanks to it running on a new platform but clever changes to the differential meant it handled much better than previous models.

The gloves came off with the eight iteration as styling became almost comically aggressive, as did the power variations. The FQ badge was introduced and manic customers could opt for a FQ 400 with 405bhp. More than enough to skin many supercars but at half the price.

Mitsubishi decided to reduce the horsepower output of the range-topper in the penultimate generation, much to the bemusement of proper Evo fans. Despite the lack of bhp, the Evo IX actually produced more torque than any other model before it.

Brand new styling, all the mod cons and refreshed engines featured on the final Evo but they didn’t impress customers. The price was too high, the engines too soft and top speeds were limited. All the trinkets just couldn’t make up for the bare-chested driving experience of previous models.

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