Tipping the scales at a surprising 3283lbs, our project Evo isn't exactly a featherweight (for reference, a Ralliart Lancer weighs approximately 2743lbs). After all, four doors and a beefed up all-wheel-drive powertrain must contribute a significant amount of heft to the package. Not to say Mitsubishi hasn't tried their damndest to shave weight – the evo is equipped with 17" lightweight Enkei wheels, carbon fiber rear wing, and aluminum hood and front fenders. All this results in a weight distribution of 60% in the front and 40% in the rear. Short of stripping the car, few methods remain to remove weight. In the project plan are even lighter wheels with lightweight lug nuts and a carbon fiber rear trunk lid. On track days, we'll remove the spare, jack, and tools.
The chassis is designed to be as light as possible, yet stable at higher speeds. To that end, the Evolution is a marvel of air management. Much of the air in the front is shunted into two areas ? a cleverly designed front aerodynamic under tray that simultaneously routes air to cool brakes and powertrain components while reducing lift and drag, and into the engine bay where it carries away engine heat and is released via the large hood vent. In the rear, the highly controversial rear wing produces downforce at speed ? up to 80+ pounds when driven in excess of 100mph. Furthermore, the wing is fully adjustable, allowing the user to select four different angles for the center portion. At the risk of being a poseur, we plan on adding the vortex generator from the MR, as it?s designed to work in conjunction with the wing to reduce drag and increase downforce.
On the road, the chassis is phenomenal. While the ride is surprisingly supple for a car of this purpose, the chassis is bone jarringly rigid. The handling, more so than the powertrain, is where the Evo really shines. Even with the stock suspension, you feel every nuance, every subtle tug, every little bump when you?re manhandling the car. An ultra tight steering rack lets your corner like nobody?s business. Pushed near the limit, the Evo has a slight tendency towards understeer. Pushed hard enough, the tail will come around, but just barely. A variety of aftermarket swaybars are available to correct this behavior (which was no doubt designed by the manufacturer to keep novices from getting in over their heads) which, when coupled with a fully adjustable race damper setup will yield handling figures unheard of for a sedan and exceed the stock 0.95Gs.
A huge contributor to the Evo?s handling quotient are the super sticky 17x8 Advan A048 tires. In wet or dry conditions, the traction and grip these tires provide are hard to overcome. The stick comes with a price, as these tires wear out quick. Evo owners average about 8,000 miles on these tires. Each tire retails for over $200 at Tirerack, and are only available at this exact size.
Turning and going fast in a straight line are all well and good until you slam into a tree because your brakes faded. Thankfully this isn?t the case with the Evo as the factory supplied 12.7? vented Brembos produce serious clamping force with virtually no fade. During a few emergency stops, the combination of huge brakes and sticky tire managed to stop the vehicle without the ABS kicking in. For those who want numbers, other magazines report 60 to 0 stopping times of 106ft or less.
Tomorrow we will turn our attention to the spartan, yet well equipped cockpit where all the work gets done.