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2006 Mitsubishi Evolution IX

By Scott Oldham
Date posted: 03-24-2005

Mitsubishi's Okazaki proving grounds is hallowed real estate, sacred ground. It's the Yankee Stadium of the sport compact performance-car world, a place where legends were born.

Located a half hour southeast of Nagoya, the massive facility is where every Mitsubishi Evolution since the 1993 Evo II has been developed, where five generations of Lancer sedans have become seven of the world's all-time greatest street cars. And it's there - hidden behind a huge wall of rock, cement and tall, lush trees - where the new, more powerful 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX was waiting for us.

Two actually. Mitsu had a blue 2006 Evo IX and a silver 2006 Evo IX MR for us to drive. Both U.S. spec. The RS (the stripper/no-frills version) will still be offered, but was not made available to us.

This fall, the IX will replace the Evolution VIII, which was the first Evo sold in the U.S. But the IX is not an all-new car, which is what the Evo X is promised to be. Instead, it's a mechanical and aesthetic face-lift of the VIII. And it's really well done.

New Look
First of all, the car looks better. The headlights and taillights have been smoked dark and the split grille, which was always a bit too Pontiac for our taste, has been replaced with one large opening like Mitsubishi had on the Evo VII.

Underneath the front bumper are larger, reshaped openings that more tightly surround the huge front-mounted intercooler and two small circular air scoops, which direct air to the intake plumbing to cool the intake charge. The cars we sampled were also equipped with a front air dam extension that will be packaged in the accessories catalog with a Gurney Flap for the trailing edge of the rear spoiler.

Better Aero
Hiroshi Fujii, the platform manager for the Evo in Mitsubishi's research and development department, tells us the air dam extension enhances front downforce by expanding a lower pressure area under the car, and the Gurney Flap improves rear downforce. The result, according to "Dr. Evo," which is what they call him, is greater high-speed stability, driving linearity, steering response, yaw damping and steering feedback.

We confirmed this on a huge oval track with ridiculously steep banking, where we played Jeff Gordon and Little "E" at over 135 mph and experienced none of that dreaded aero push those boys are always complaining about. At that speed you can actually feel the centrifugal force pulling the blood out of your brain, and most passengers were ready to hurl after just a lap or two. But the IX was so locked in, even when running up next to the guardrail, that it could be driven with one hand.

The last of the exterior changes are new double-spoke Enkei wheels, which are 5 ounces lighter than the very lightweight rims they replace. The BBS wheels on the MR version are unchanged.

More Power
With some revisions, Dr. Evo and his team of evil engineers squeezed another 10 horsepower and 3 pound-feet of torque from the Evo's 2.0-liter double-overhead-cam four-cylinder. Total output is up to 286 hp at 6,500 rpm and 289 lb-ft of torque at 3,500 rpm.

Those revisions are a larger turbo, which reduces lag by 5 percent, new spark plugs with longer threads that help cool combustion chamber temperatures, a timing belt now made of rubber and nylon fiber for added strength and durability, a new magnesium center cover and a reshaped oil ring that the good doctor says will reduce oil consumption by 10 percent.

MIVEC, or Mitsubishi Innovative Valve timing and lift Electronic Control, has also been added to the mix. It's Mitsubishi's variable valve timing system, and it has improved the midrange torque of the 4G63 engine. Its 7,000-rpm redline is unchanged.

Shorter Gearing
To make use of the engine's flatter torque curve, the five-speed in the RS and straight IX has been given tighter ratios. The six-speed in the MR is unchanged, as are the suspension, brakes and all-wheel-drive system on all three models.

Sadly, so is the 5,500-rpm rev limiter in first gear, which is active only if the car isn't moving. Mitsubishi says this is to protect the front pinion shaft in American market cars, which are 100 pounds heavier to meet U.S. crash standards and fitted with stickier tires than European or Japanese market Evos.

Although the engine and transmission mods may improve acceleration times, the real benefits are better around-town drivability and more yank accelerating out of slow second-gear corners. On the proving grounds road course, which included two hairpins, a 110-mph straightaway and a jump, the blue IX felt a bit quicker pulling out of the hairpins than the silver MR.

Nicer Interior
Only real Evoheads will notice this stuff, but the Momo steering wheel now has dark titanium spokes instead of silver, the seats are covered in suedelike Alcantara with leather side bolsters and the IX and MR, but not the RS, get aluminum pedals and a carbon-fiber-style instrument panel.

We Want One
The Evo was already the greatest performance-car buy on the market, with starting prices of $28,504 for the RS, $31,274 for the straight VIII and $35,274 for the MR. The revised 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX is better and should cost just $500 more across the board. Make ours a black MR with a Gurney Flap.

http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/d...105130?tid=edmunds.h..insideline.promo.2g.*#3























 

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yeah that blue does look good, is that a us option? i dont think its on the list of colours for cars coming here was it?
 

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I didn't think there was going to be an MR version of the IX :confused:. Neither of those cars in the pics look like they have an MR badge.
 

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I thought everyone would hate that blue - it's very nice but it looks a bit scooby to me :confused: you would have thought that was the last thing that mitsi would want their cars to look like !

Just add gold wheels for the full effect !

It is an avalible colour on a JDM import
 

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TCB said:
I thought everyone would hate that blue - it's very nice but it looks a bit scooby to me :confused: you would have thought that was the last thing that mitsi would want their cars to look like !

Just add gold wheels for the full effect !

It is an avalible colour on a JDM import
Icelle blue worked well on the IV & VI so it's hardly a new thing. There was also a blue II, Canal blue on the VI TME and who can forget Reims? ;)
 

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Icelle blue would have been great IMO - but that blue is just a bit to subaru for me !

As you say could have been worse - could have been reims !
 

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chunky said:
From press cuttings like this I gather the yanks will be using MR in the same way FQ is used here i.e. range topper model(s).
I'm suprised they're allowed to badge them MR in the states and not from the factory. Do you know if they're the same spec as 8 MR's, i.e. ali roof and Bilstein suspension? If that's the case, does it mean that 'normal' 9s will not have these?
 

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DaveG said:
I'm suprised they're allowed to badge them MR in the states and not from the factory. Do you know if they're the same spec as 8 MR's, i.e. ali roof and Bilstein suspension? If that's the case, does it mean that 'normal' 9s will not have these?
They've used MR as a model derivative before in the US on the 3000GT and possibly others.
 

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Just been looking through the US Mitsubishi site from Rags's link. I'm not sure what Colt Cars would think if they offered the same warranty as the US :D.

At Mitsubishi, we are so confident in the quality, reliability and durability of the cars we build that we are backing all of our 2005 models with our most extensive warranties. This list is headed by a 10-year/100,000 mile Powertrain Limited Warranty*, a 5-year/60,000 mile fully transferable Bumper-to-Bumper New Vehicle Limited Warranty, a 7-year/100,000 mile Anti-Corrosion/Perforation Limited Warranty and 5-year/Unlimited-miles Roadside Assistance. So now, when you drive off in your new Mitsubishi, you'll leave with even more peace of mind, knowing you can enjoy it to the fullest for many years to come.
 
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