no AYC for US
The current generation of Mitsubishi's Lancer Evolution is a highly refined package. Its 4G63 engine has been around for 17 years in the U.S. market and has seen use in every EVO. The chassis, in its current form, has been around since the EVO VII model in 2002. The point here is that stamping the number nine on the back of the next EVO produces serious expectations in the minds of the EVO loyal. So the new car better come with improved performance.
Thankfully, it does.
The most significant change is added power. Mitsubishi increased output to 286 hp and 289 lb-ft of torque. That's an increase of 10 hp and 3 lb-ft, respectively. The newfound power is courtesy of Mitsubishi's MIVEC variable valve timing and an updated turbocharger.
The only practical technology Mitsubishi has left to apply to the 4G63 finally sees the light of day in the EVO IX. MIVEC (Mitsubishi Innovative Valve timing and lift Electronic Control), ironically, controls only valve timing (not lift) in the version used on the EVO IX. Valve timing is altered using a variable-area cam sprocket actuated by an oil control valve.
The other significant change is to the turbocharger. Mitsubishi retains the twin-scroll design used on previous EVOs but has increased the compressor cover diffuser diameter to further improve boost response. Mitsu claims this change nets a five-percent improvement in boost response over the entire rev range. For those of you who speak Mitsubishi, the new turbo is a TD05HR-16G6C-10.5T. The EVO IX's ECU allows it to pump 20.1 psi of boost at 3500 rpm and 16 psi at redline.
With the exception of a higher first and lower third, fourth and fifth gears in the five-speed transmission (used in the EVO and EVO RS), all three models will retain identical drivetrains to their respective '05 EVO VIII versions. The MR will also keep the same six-speed gearbox it had in the EVO VIII. Every EVO will also retain the active center differential, front helical limited slip and rear 1.5-way clutch-type limited-slip differential.
Updated EVO-specific Enkei wheels replace the current base EVO's forged Enkeis. The new split five-spoke design is slightly lighter for a total weight savings of 1.3 pounds. EVO MR will keep the same sexy forged BBS wheels in EVO IX trim. Suspension calibrations between EVO VIII and EVO IX remain unchanged. The EVO MR retains its superb Bilstein dampers.
Aesthetic changes include a new nose with nostril intakes on either side of the main grille opening. These nostrils alone aren't all that functional, but the front air dam extension on the underside of the nose is. This small piece of rubber, which stretches the width of the car, expands the low-pressure area underneath. There's also a Gurney flap on the back of the rear wing that increases downforce by accelerating flow velocity under the wing. Bounce that tidbit off the next import hater who hassles you about the size of your wing and you're sure to get your ass kicked. Mitsubishi might save you the trouble since the product planners haven't decided if these pieces will be standard on every EVO IX or sold only as accessories through dealers.
Interior changes are minor: new aluminum pedals, black spokes on the MOMO steering wheel, carbon-look instrument panel surrounds and the same bitchin' Recaro buckets, now covered in Alcantara with leather bolsters.
Punishing the EVO IX on the Ultimate EVO Proving Grounds
In case these photos aren't proof enough, number nine is an Evolution in every sense of the word. To prove this, Mitsubishi allowed us the opportunity to sample version IX at its Okazaki proving grounds-the same track that has been used to tune every EVO since number two. Okazaki is, to put it mildly, EVO heaven.
In utilitarian Japanese style, the handling course is small and tight. But it's covered with features that clearly contribute to the EVO's dynamic character. Midcorner bumps, racetrack-style curbs and jumps (Yes, jumps. Two of them.) create a fantastic combination of obstacles. Luckily, all this only serves to enhance the EVO experience. The suspension calibration is identical between last year's and this year's cars so it follows that their behavior is the same mix of near-perfect handling and superb ride which we love about the EVO. Since even the tires are the same, any attempt to discern a difference in handling alone is pointless.
However, even our not-so-highly calibrated asses noticed the power increase. In fact, combine the added power with the lower gearing in the five-speed and the improvement isn't so subtle. The standard car pulls harder out of third-gear corners than it did before. But both cars are assassins on a tight course like this.
The subtle off-throttle rotation is still there and the active center diff makes the new cornering attitude stick the same as in the '05 cars-right up to the limit of the front tires. Even the best chassis in the world will kill its front tires if you hamfist the controls. We'll take our EVO IX with an aftermarket rear anti-roll bar and some even stickier tires, thank you very much.
We doubt the power increase will be realized in any significant acceleration performance gains. In fact, we'll predict another 13.3-second quarter mile at just more than 100 mph. There are too many variables at work in the launch for a 10-hp gain to produce a substantial reduction in e.t. And the 5500-rpm launch rev limiter remains in effect on the EVO IX.
Mitsubishi tells us the new aero parts allow the EVO zero-lift but refuses to say at what speed this happens. Even so, at 130 mph around Okazaki's 1.5-mile banked oval, the car felt the same to us, which is good. Its high-speed stability has always been confidence inspiring and we have even more reason to trust it now. Bottom line, the EVO IX is better. The improvements aren't huge, but neither is the price increase-Mitsu estimates a $500 premium over the '05 cars across the board. So our favorite sport compact car two years running looks like it's got a good chance of keeping that title another year.
2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX
Estimated Price: $31,099 (EVO); $28,999 (EVO RS) $35,999 (EVO MR)
Engine Code: 4G63
Type: Inline four, iron block, aluminum head, turbocharged and intercooled
Valvetrain: DOHC, four valves per cylinder
Bore x Stroke: 85.0mm x 88.0mm
Compression Ratio: 8.8:1
Claimed Crank Hp: 286 hp @ 6500 rpm
Claimed Crank Torque: 289 hp @ 3500 rpm
Redline: 7000 rpm
Layout: Transverse front engine, all-wheel drive
Transmission: Five-speed manual
EVO & EVO RS EVO MR
1st: 2.785:1 1st: 2.909:1
2nd: 1.950:1 2nd: 1.944:1
3rd: 1.444:1 3rd: 1.434:1
4th: 1.096:1 4th: 1.100:1
5th: 0.761:1 5th: 0.868:1
Final drive: 4.529:1 6th: 0.693:1
Differentials: Helical limited slip (F), active electrohydraulically controlled clutch type (C), clutch-type limited slip (R)
Curb Weight: 3,263 lbs (EV0) 3,219 lbs (EVO RS) 3,285 lbs (EVO MR)
Weight Distribution F/R: 60/40
Overall Length: 178.5 in.
Wheelbase: 103.3 in.
Overall Width: 69.7 in.
Track F/R: 59.6 in./59.6 in.
Height: 57.1 in.
Front: MacPherson strut, anti-roll bar
Rear: Upper and lower control arms, one trailinglink, anti-roll bar
Front: 12.65-in. vented discs, four-piston Brembo calipers
Rear: 12.0-in. vented discs, two-piston Brembo calipers, Electronic Driving Aids/Inhibitors: ACD, ABS
Wheels and Tires
Wheels: 17x8-in. Enkei (EVO and EVO RS),17x8-in. BBS (MR)
Tires: 235/45ZR-17 Yokohama Advan AO46