Despite these changes, for the most part the Evo has remained true to its roots as a small, economy-derived platform with a powerful engine and well-engineered drive train and suspension.
The Lancer Evolution has historically been free of excessive luxury options or creature comforts, and in fact there was even the option to order a stripped down edition of the car for even greater weight savings.
With the Evo X, the tenth edition of Mitsubishi’s flagship sports sedan, the focus seems to have shifted away from the rawness of previous Evos and instead centered on developing more of a competitor to the German rocket sedans that it had always matched in performance if not accoutrements.
The 2009 Evo X is still powered by a 2.0 liter 4 cylinder engine, producing 291 horsepower and 300 ft-lbs of torque. New for this year, however is the addition of a 6 speed, clutchless ‘auto-manual’ transmission, which can be had instead of the standard 5 speed manual.
In another departure, the Evo X will be based on Mitsubishi’s ‘Project Global’ platform, which is slightly wider and taller than the Evo IX, giving the vehicle less of a compact feel.
Further defining the change in attitude for the Evo X is the radical exterior restyling, which is far more aggressive than the familiar, boxy Evos of old. The tapered snout and rounded edges combine with the vehicle’s suspension to give the impression of a powerful, crouched beast ready to spring into action.
Luckily, some things haven’t changed. The Evo X still offers one of the most sophisticated all wheel drive systems available, honed by years of international rally racing.
Dedicated computers are tasked with active yaw control and managing center differential and the anti-lock braking system to ensure that power is always transmitted to the ground in a manner that is appropriate for driving conditions.
Drivers can indicate to the system whether they are travelling on snow, gravel or tarmac and torque is redistributed through the center differential accordingly.
With an upgraded interior and a curb weight that is 200 pounds heavier than the previous Evo, it is clear that by tempering the austerity of their previous Lancer offerings they have had to take a step back from the blueprint that made the original Evos so successful in international competition.
However, Mitsubishi is not in the business of selling race cars, they are in the business of selling road vehicles, and while purists may lament the transformation of an icon the Evo X will certainly attract many new buyers with its more up market makeover.