Think about all the cool cars in Mitsubishi’s lineup.
Chances are, you could only think of one; the Lancer Evolution.
Turbocharged, 300 horsepower, all-wheel drive; the perfect prescription for New England snowfall and the doldrums of conventional family sedans. It has worked for Mitsubishi for years now, and a cult of fanboys (and girls) has cropped up around this car. So why would Mitsubishi consider making it a hybrid?
Maybe because the EVO isn’t nearly as exciting when it isn’t starring in Fast and Furious movies. Or maybe Mitsu is on to something here. The Honda CR-Z was a disappointment to many of us wanting a hybrid that takes advantage of the electric motor to produce more power, as well as better fuel efficiency. I suggest you read Sam Smith’s article over at Jalopnik for the reason why the CR-Z sucks. With that pretty much scratched off my list of Hybrids-I-Maybe-Could-Be-One-Day-Seen-Driving (At Night), Mitsubishi’s EVO XI, due out in 2012 or 2013, could fill my prescription for fun fuel efficiency.
The idea for the EVO XI is to hook up an upgraded version of Mitsubishi’s 63 horsepower permanent magnetic synchronous electric engine (the same motor found in the i-MiEV) and hook it up to the new EVO’s front wheels. Then a 2.0 liter, 300+ horsepower MIVEC petrol engine would solely power the rear wheels. Real-wheel drive = very yes in my book. The new EVO could give drivers the option to switch back and forth between petrol power and electric driving, driving up fuel economy and lowering emissions. The current EVO X gets about 20 mpg out of its 291 horsepower four cylinder engine, which is worse than even the outgoing Mustang’s 4.6 liter V8 engine.
A Motor Trend sketch of what the EVO XI could look like.
Mitsubishi engineers are said to be targeting a 4.5 second sprint to 60 mph from a standstill, and the combined output of petrol and electric motors could take power upwards of 350 ponies. Sounds very good to me, but only if they can get highway mileage to over 25 mpg. The EVO XI will also feature a bevy of improvements to the handling and suspension including Active Steering and Roll Control Suspension.
Of course, the success of messing with such a tried and true vehicle will boil down to cost-versus-performance. Few things perform like a Ferrari, but few people can afford them. Will a hybrid EVO cost even more than the current EVO X’s top asking price of over $40,000? If so, it better be a helluva better car.