For a few years in the early 2000s, the import car scene was turned on its head by the arrival of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, a turbocharged all-wheel drive rally machine that made mincemeat of rivals on and off the road. But the Lancer Evo as we knew it is gone for good, though Mitsubishi has (again) hinted that its legendary performance car will return as the “king” of electric vehicles.
Mitsubishi President and COO Tetsuro Aikawa told Autocar: “In the future, we would like to launch such a vehicle with Evo characteristics. In Japanese, when you pronounce ‘Oh’ [in Evo], it means ‘king’. So we would like to launch this type of car, featuring EV and PHEV technology, which is the ultimate of its kind. ‘EV’ for electric vehicle, ‘O’ for king – Evo.”
But the next-gent Evo won’t be a compact sedan as with previous generations, but rather a new small crossover influenced by the XR-PHEV II concept. The model will likely be called the ASX, according to rumors, though the production model will get all-wheel drive like previous Evos, rather than just front-wheel drive like the XR concept. Mitsubishi will draw on its experience with its all-electric Pikes Peak race cars, though that doesn’t mean it will be purely all-electric, or that it’s coming anytime soon. It will, however, be “light and fast”, though whether it ever gets built depends on other factors.
“To develop these kind of vehicles, we have to sell a lot of the base models, so we can cover the research and development costs,” said Aikawa. It is also worth noting that Mitsu has been hinting at a plug-in Evo for years now, so this really seems more like a matter of when, rather than if. Sales of the Outlander PHEV SUV have been robust enough to lift the company out of its self-imposed doldrums, the Japanese automaker is looking to plug-in technology and SUVs/crossovers for profitability going forward.
It’s starting to look like Mitsubishi could end up a major player in vehicle electrification after an embarrassingly slow start (looking at you, i-MiEV).
Fanboys will no doubt be butthurt, but I welcome a new plug-in performance car to rival the dominant Tesla P85D.