A decade ago, Mitsubishi’s Lancer Evolution was one of the hottest performance cars on the market. The compact, turbocharged four-door, derived from a stage rally car, was built to endure tremendous punishment on and off-road — much like the Subaru WRX STI. Fans chose sides between these two like-minded sport sedans and defended their pick to the bitter end.
Sadly, however, the Lancer’s spotlight went out this past year when Mitsubishi pulled the car from production (though many could argue it was dead long before assembly stopped). The Evo’s demise has been representative of Mitsubishi’s overall struggle. Though vehicle sales in the company’s home market of Japan are good, global (especially U.S.) sales are abysmal.
Last year, Nissan took ownership of the failing automaker and has attempted to turn the brand around. Following market trends, Mitsubishi will focus on crossovers/SUVs for the foreseeable future, starting with the all-new Eclipse Cross. The first new Mitsubishi in several years borrows its name from the Eclipse sports car, which ended production in 2012. Similarly, the next model, which was previewed at this year’s Tokyo Motor Show, borrows the iconic Evolution name for an all-electric SUV.
Meet the e-Evolution Concept.
Mitsubishi loves to show off crossover concepts, and in truth, the e-Evolution isn’t much different from last year’s GT PHEV concept. Now fully electric, the e-Evolution uses three electric motors: one powering the front axle and one at each rear wheel. Torque vectoring of each rear wheel is possible when the motors operate at different speeds. The concept’s battery is mounted within the floor between the front and rear axles for a low center of gravity. Combined output from the electric motors is unknown.
Styling has improved since the GT PHEV concept, with sharp angles, a pinched roofline, and steeply raked fron
t and rear windscreens. Tri-pointed LED taillights and a dual-layer C-pillar are among the vehicle’s best design elements, though we only expect a small portion of the concept’s overall aesthetic to make it to production.
Like the Eclipse Cross, the e-Evolution strays far from what the Evolution name originally promised. Fans of the Lancer Evo will no doubt be upset, but this is the only way Mitsubishi will survive. Look for the production e-Evolution to debut sometime before 2020.