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Highly anticipated by fans of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, a preview of what we can expect from the automaker's tenth-generation sports sedan was revealed today at the Detroit Auto Show in the form of the Prototype X.
The big news under the sheetmetal is the automated manual six-speed gearbox, although no indications are currently available as to whether it uses a single layshaft and clutch or if two are used to minimize torque drop during shifts (a conventional five-speed manual will be offered on the production Evo X). The S-AWC automatic center diff splits the power to the front and rear, with Mitsubishi's Active Yaw Control rear diff and Active Skid Control stability control keeping all that turbocharged fury under control. And just how much fury might we expect? Mitsubishi states that final ratings are not available pending ongoing development, but promises that this will be the most powerful Evo ever, aided by an "over-engineered" open-deck block and reciprocating assembly that were optimized for use with high boost levels.
Click through for more thoughts, the full press release from Mitsubishi, and please do yourself a favor and check out the Prototype X's high-resolution gallery with 88 pics that deserve to be a good desktop wallpaper.
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The exterior styling is pretty much what we'd expect, with the Lancer's generally aggressive shape complimented via all manner of vents and scoops, and topped off with a surprisingly subtle (for a Evo) rear wing. Twenty-inch wheels are wrapped around a set of big Brembo brakes, but it'd be surprising to see the production version wearing such large rollers.
Inside, we get a center-mounted chronograph for keeping tabs on lap times (it's controlled via buttons on the steering wheel) as part of a minimalist gauge package. The aforementioned gearbox is commanded via an H-gate shifter in the center console, which is matched with a pair of magnesium paddles on the steering wheel. The LED accent strip that runs across the dash and doors is said to not be indicative of a production feature, but Mitsubishi suggests that it might inspire something similar in the aftermarket.
ALL-NEW 2008 MITSUBISHI LANCER AND PROTOTYPE FOR NEXT-GENERATION LANCER EVOLUTION MAKE WORLD DEBUT AT THE 2007 NORTH AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL AUTO SHOW – PLUS, PLANS FOR 50-STATE TURBO-DIESEL ENGINE ANNOUNCED
DETROIT, January 8, 2007 – Mitsubishi Motors North America (MMNA) today announced the world debut of the all-new, 2008 Lancer compact sedan, which reaches dealerships in March, and Prototype X, a concept vision of the next-generation Lancer Evolution that will become available in the first quarter of 2008. In addition, Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC), announced plans to develop a next-generation common rail turbo-diesel engine, which is planned for launch in the new Lancer in 2010.
The 2007 NAIAS runs January 7-21 at the Cobo Center in Detroit and is open to the general public from January 13. In addition to the world-debut vehicles, Mitsubishi is displaying its entire 2007 model line at the show, including the all-new Outlander SUV, the exciting new Galant Ralliart performance sedan and the new Eclipse Spyder. Special Edition (SE) versions of the Galant, the Endeavor midsize SUV and the Eclipse coupe will be on the show floor. In addition, the Baja-winning Raider and a Safari Rally winner from 1973, the Lancer 1600 GSR, will represent more than three decades of Mitsubishi motorsports heritage.
New Global Platform in the Spotlight
The new Lancer, Prototype X and the upcoming Lancer Evolution are all built on an all-new performance-engineered global platform that debuted with the 2007 Mitsubishi Outlander SUV. The inherent robustness and versatility of the platform allow Mitsubishi to build a diverse array of models with it going forward, with each one retaining a unique performance character.
The 2008 Lancer will deliver driven-to-thrill dynamics, "class-up" value, advanced safety and available cutting-edge user-technology in an aggressively styled machine. Lancer's comprehensive safety package provides seven standard air bags, including the first driver's knee air bag in a Mitsubishi model.
While remaining true to the core values that have made the Lancer Evolution series synonymous with thrilling performance, the next-generation will offer all-around capability and user technology that distinguish the world's best performance models. The high-performance engine, sports car dynamics and striking design will appeal to enthusiasts worldwide – for those who desire a daily driver with street credentials as well as those anticipating weekend club racing.
The 2008 Lancer and Prototype X convey a shared lineage with the Mitsubishi Concept-X that was first shown at Tokyo Motor Show in 2005. The shared "DNA" is anchored in a new design language that conveys an unmistakable brand identity. A shark-nosed front end inspired by jet fighter air intakes, a distinct wedge-like profile and crisp, taut lines highlight the exciting new design.
Under its dramatic skin, Prototype X showcases an all-new 2.0-liter turbocharged engine and a new high performance all-wheel-drive system called Super-All Wheel Control (S-AWC). Prototype X also previews a new paddle-shift automated manual transmission that will be offered in the Lancer Evolution for the first time.
2008 Lancer Is All-New from the Wheels Up
The new-generation Lancer is powered by a new 2.0-liter DOHC MIVEC 4-cylinder engine, with 152 hp at 6,000 rpm (Federal Tier II, Bin 5 emissions) and 146 lb.-ft. of peak torque at 4,250 rpm. (For states that require it, the PZEV-certified Lancer offers 143 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 143 lb.-ft. of peak torque at 4,250 rpm.) The 2008 Lancer is available in three levels of trim and driving dynamics: DE, ES and the sport-tuned GTS. The Lancer ES model projects a refined appearance with 5-spoke 16-in. alloy wheels, color-keyed door handles and mirrors and a chrome grille surround. Styling is even more stand-out on the GTS styling than on other Lancer models, with 10-spoke 18-in. alloy wheels, front and side air dams, standard fog lights, a rear spoiler and a chrome tailpipe tip.
First Mitsubishi in North America with a CVT
All Lancer models come with a standard crisp-shifting 5-speed manual transmission. The new-generation Lancer is the first Mitsubishi in North America to offer an optional continuously variable transmission (CVT) in place of a conventional automatic transmission. When equipped with the CVT, the Lancer GTS exclusively features a 6-step Sportronic® mode that allows the driver to manually control transmission operation using magnesium steering wheel paddle shifters – a first in the segment.
In contrast to a conventional automatic transmission, which uses fixed gear ratios, a CVT operates on a pulley system that allows an infinite variability between highest and lowest available ratios with no discrete steps or shifts. A CVT smoothly adapts to changing vehicle speeds, allowing the engine to operate at its level of peak efficiency.
International Driving Character
The new Lancer is built on a longer wheelbase and wider track – but with a slightly shorter overall length than the previous model. A 2.3-inch increase in both the front and rear track dimensions – now 60.2 in. – sets the stage for the new Lancer's solid, stable handling capability. Wheelbase was lengthened to 103.7 in. from 102.3 in, and overall width is increased from 66.7 in to 69.4 in. Overall length, however, has been reduced by 0.6-in., giving the new Lancer a more road-hugging attitude that is especially evident with the GTS model's standard 18-in. wheels.
Lancer's highly rigid unibody structure, which makes extensive use of high-strength steel, allows for sport-oriented suspension tuning while also providing a smooth, compliant ride. Compared to the previous-generation Lancer, torsional rigidity has been increased by 56 percent, and bending rigidity is up by 50 percent – increases that exceed body stiffness measurements of even the previous Lancer Evolution IX.
Mitsubishi refined the new Lancer's suspension calibration to deliver an international driving character more commonly found in expensive European sport sedans. Front suspension employs strut tower bars that enhance lateral rigidity for precise steering response. The Lancer's sophisticated new multi-link rear suspension is a major factor in providing ride and handling characteristics that might be expected from a more expensive vehicle. Lancer DE and ES models feature standard 16-in. wheels (steel on DE, alloy on ES) with 205/60 R16 tires.
The 2008 Lancer GTS – with the standard 5-speed manual transmission or the optional CVT – combines a sport-tuned suspension – including different stabilizer bars and spring/shock damping rates – with 18-inch wheels and 215/45 R18 tires to make this model a tenacious twisty-road tamer. The GTS's brakes are the same as used on the larger, heavier Outlander SUV, featuring 11.6-in. (294 mm) vented discs in front and 11.9-in. (302 mm) solid discs in rear.
Comprehensive Safety Package
The 2008 Lancer is built around Mitsubishi's next-generation Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution (RISE) unibody design. The RISE body structure disperses energy loads during side and rear crashes and controls distortion, enhancing occupant protection and also helping to protect the fuel system during a rear impact.
The 2008 Lancer's safety package is one of the most comprehensive in the segment and includes an advanced dual front air bag supplemental restraint system (SRS) with occupant sensors, standard front seat-mounted side-impact air bags and side curtain air bags, plus a driver's knee air bag. The Lancer ES and GTS models include as standard an anti-lock braking system (ABS) with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), which is available as an option for the DE model. All Lancer models feature a tire pressure monitoring system.
As with the exterior, the Lancer's interior is characterized by clean and crisp surfaces, free of gimmicks and using high-quality materials with careful attention to detail. Each trim line is distinguished by its own distinct seating materials and interior trim. The overall instrument panel shape and design contribute to a more spacious interior feeling than seen in some competitors. The roomy feeling is no illusion, as the new Lancer provides 94.8 cu. ft. of passenger space (93.3 with the optional sunroof).
Precision-designed detailing on all controls lends a "high-touch," high-tech feel. The short-stroke switches also impart a feeling of quality and solidity, and audio switches are finished in piano black for an upscale appearance. Metallic-like trim highlights the shifter bezel, and also the steering wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls switches in the ES and GTS models.
Premium In-Car Technology
All Lancer models for 2008 come pre-wired for accessory SIRIUS® Satellite Radio. This in-demand feature is also included in the optional Sun and Sound Package that is available for the ES and GTS models, where it is combined with a power glass sunroof, SIRIUS® Satellite Radio with 6-month pre-paid subscription and a 650-watt (max.), Rockford-Fosgate® Premium Audio system – the most powerful factory-installed audio system in the segment.
Similar to the option offered for the new-generation 2007 Outlander SUV, the audiophile-quality Rockford-Fosgate system has been custom-tuned for the Lancer's interior acoustics to reproduce all types of music with remarkable clarity and power. The system includes a 6-CD in-dash head unit with MP3 playback capability and features an audio input jack to connect an iPod® or similar media player. The Lancer's Rockford-Fosgate system plays through nine speakers in seven positions, including a trunk-mounted subwoofer.
The sport-tuned GTS is also the technology leader of the 2008 Lancer line, featuring a standard Bluetooth® wireless technology cell phone interface system with voice recognition microphone for hands-free calling (available for the ES model). The GTS model for 2008 is exclusively available with the optional Navigation and Technology Package, which combines a 30-gigabyte hard disc drive (HDD) navigation system with digital music server function, the Mitsubishi Multi-Communication System and the FAST Key (Freehand Advanced Security Transmitter) entry system. FAST Key allows the driver to unlock the vehicle simply by having the remote in a pocket or purse and grasping the handle on either of the front doors or the trunk.
Lancer: The Intelligent Choice
Mitsubishi designed the new-generation Lancer with a focus on reduced operating costs and increased reliability and durability. For example, replaceable crush boxes used on the front side members can help reduce the repair costs for a light collision. Using a timing chain instead of a belt – as many engines in the segment use – allows for a more compact design, helps ensure reliability and eliminates the need for belt replacement. Iridium-tip spark plugs contribute to lower emissions and help extend major service intervals.
Coming Soon: Evolution Revolution
The Lancer Evolution has long lived up to its namesake by greatly improving with each successive generation. (Lancer Evolution VIII was the first to be offered in the U.S. market.) As Prototype X demonstrates, the Lancer Evolution will soon make perhaps the largest leap in overall capability seen between two generations of this model. The next Evolution will offer major gains in handling dynamics and technology while maintaining the kind of thrilling turbo engine performance that has made the model a street legend around the world.
Although clearly based on the new Lancer and sharing its distinctive shark-nose grille opening, Prototype X features a unique front end, rear fenders and decklid. Making a maximum-performance statement, Prototype X looks the part of the street-wise sports machine with its boxed fenders, aggressively sloping hood with integral air scoop, 20-inch alloy wheels with massive brakes and the high-tech LED turn signals in the sideview mirrors.
Inside, the deeply contoured bucket seats are upholstered in high-grip Alcantara. An electronic lap counter hints at the car's weekend club racer capability, while the red LED light band that spans the doors and the dash surface might suggest a customizing idea to future customers. The user technology in Prototype X previews what will be available for the next Lancer Evolution. While not all design features and content seen on Prototype X will make it to the production vehicle, the overall design will carry through.
Next-Gen Evolution Power
The engine powering Prototype X – and the next Lancer Evolution – is a turbocharged version of the new aluminum 4B11 2.0-liter DOHC MIVEC engine used in the 2008 Lancer. It will yield the highest power rating ever in an Evolution model. (Since development continues, final engine output figures will be revealed at a later date.) Significantly, the newest Lancer Evolution will have less differentiation from market to market than the previous generations.
The new model's aluminum engine block is a significant 20 kg (53.4 lbs.) lighter than the iron-block 4G63 engine used in all previous Evolution models, which aids weight distribution. In addition, its orientation (exhaust located on bulkhead side) allows for improved placement that helps to lower the center of gravity. Although the new Evolution engine block is lighter, it was designed from the outset for high-performance turbocharged applications. High inherent strength has been achieved partly through over-engineering of the open deck block, and the use of large water jackets and metal areas around each siamesed cylinder bore. The reciprocating assembly of the turbocharged 4B11 is capable of withstanding high levels of boost.
Automated Manual Transmission
Prototype X is equipped with the automated manual transmission with magnesium steering wheel paddle shifters that will be available on the next Lancer Evolution. This new transmission will offer lightning fast, paddle-shift actuated shifting when desired, along with offering a fully automatic mode. This unit is not a conventional torque-converter automatic transmission, but rather a true auto-capable manual similar to that used on some of the world's most notable performance models. For stick shift purists, the next Lancer Evolution will still offer a conventional 5-speed manual transmission. With the 4B11 turbo engine's stronger torque performance, a 5-speed will provide optimal acceleration response.
Super All Wheel Control (S-AWC)
The next Lancer Evolution, while still providing the levels of engine performance that appeal to this model's loyal core customers, will expand dynamic capability with the new Super All Wheel Control (S-AWC) system. Combining intelligent full-time four-wheel drive with stability control, S-AWC is a further development of the advanced full-time 4WD technology first introduced on the new-generation Outlander SUV for 2007.
In Prototype X this next-generation system combines an Active Center Differential (ACD) with an Active Yaw Control (AYC) rear differential and Active Skid Control (ASC). The AYC rear differential has never been offered on a Lancer Evolution sold in the U.S. market. The combination of all these technologies will help the Lancer Evolution make optimal use of its considerable torque and also ensure the highest level of dynamic capability and stability ever in this model. At the same time, the new technology will further enhance the exhilarating driving performance character that customers have come to expect from this model.
The next Lancer Evolution once again features its own suspension system, replacing steel stampings of the standard Lancer with race-proven forged aluminum components. Due to the high rigidity of the new global C-platform, the Evolution's suspension can be tuned to provide a more compliant and stable ride than before without compromising handling performance – a trait that is expected from a true world-class performance sedan.
With exciting performance assured, Mitsubishi will be able to equip the upcoming Lancer Evolution to be a markedly better car for everyday driving. User technologies introduced on the new Outlander and Lancer models will also be offered in the next Lancer Evolution, including a premium Rockford-Fosgate® 650-watt (max.) audio system, HDD navigation system with music server, Bluetooth®, steering wheel audio controls, and an automatic climate control system.
New Performance Diesel Model Under Development
In 2010, the Lancer line will gain a powerful turbo-diesel model. Mitsubishi last sold a diesel-powered pickup truck in the U.S. market in 1985. The next-generation Mitsubishi turbo-diesel announced at the NAIAS for the U.S. will be based on the engine that MMC is developing together with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries for European export models. The new engine incorporates a DPF + NOx trap catalyst system to ensure compliance with U.S. Tier II Bin 5 emissions regulations that require NOx (nitrogen oxides) emissions to be as low as those from gasoline engines.
This advanced new Mitsubishi diesel will use a lightweight aluminum block and a common-rail fuel injection system, with piezo injectors for optimal responsiveness. A new variable-geometry / variable diffuser turbocharger will provide a wide range of boost control to give the Lancer turbo-diesel model quick and powerful response. Similar to other advanced turbochargers, the Mitsubishi variable-geometry turbo design enables exhaust turbine flow to be varied, which helps to sharpen response by minimizing "turbo lag." The Mitsubishi turbo goes a step farther, with a variable diffuser that can vary flow from the compressor to the intake. The combination of these technologies will yield an outstanding combination of power and fuel efficiency.
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