Lancer Evolution 4WD Wagon: the Estate Car on steroids

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September 9, 2005 The concept of a high performance estate car (as opposed to the working class “station wagon”) is something we have explored before in Gizmag, but there’s now something quite different on offer from Mitsubishi. Think of the concept as a rally car you can take the kids to school in, and we’re predicting with human nature being what it is, that this very limited edition Lancer Evolution Wagon which went on sale in Japan yesterday, will become highly sought after and may even force Mitsubishi to reconsider the limited run of 2,500 vehicles with production due to cease in December. The Lancer Evolution Wagon marries the awesome dynamic performance of the Lancer Evolution IX high-performance 4WD sedan, which employs Mitsubishi's advanced and proprietary All Wheel Control (AWC) traction and stability enhancing technology, with the utility-enhancing luggage compartment of the Lancer Wagon. Available in two specifications, the GT uses the latest MIVEC 280 bhp intercooler-turbocharged engine mated to a 6-speed manual transmission to generate performance that is unmatched in the err, “station wagon” category. The GT-A uses the same engine with a smaller turbocharger and a 5-speed automatic transmission for outstanding low-end and mid-range torque with little drop-off in peak power - 272 bhp. The GT goes for 3,412,500 yen (US$31,300) and the GT-A about US$500 more.

Lancer Evolution Wagon is the first station wagon model in the Lancer Evolution series. Derived from the Lancer Evolution IX sedan launched in March 2005, Lancer Evolution Wagon uses the body side panels and roof panel from the Lancer Wagon with reinforcements mainly focused on the rear end to create a lightweight and very stiff station wagon body. The powertrain mates a 2.0-litre intercooler-turbocharged engine to an electronically controlled 4WD driveline to realise unparalleled vehicle dynamics for a station wagon.

Lancer Evolution Wagon is offered in two grades. The GT uses a 6-speed manual transmission to deliver the ultimate in sporty driving pleasure. The 5-speed automatic transmission GT-A brings full-spectrum driving pleasure, combining the sporty performance of the GT with the convenience of an automatic. Lancer Evolution Wagon is to be produced in a limited run of 2,500 (GT and GT-A combined total), with production due to cease at the end of December this year.

Exterior

The design melds together Lancer Evolution IX's aggressive front end styling and Lancer Wagon's squarish rear end.

Rear blister fenders and a rear bumper that take their design cues from Evolution IX are used to give Evolution Wagon a low-&-wide look.

On the GT-A, the front license plate has been moved to a central position to promote automatic transmission oil cooler performance. On the GT, the license plate is located in the same position as on Evolution IX to promote cooling of the intercooler.

Brilliant chrome headlamp extensions enhance the overall quality look. A chrome "LANCER Evolution" logo at the bottom left of the rear gate together with air outlet-look quarter lower garnish on the rear blister fenders identify Evolution Wagon's tail.

Interior Lancer Evolution Wagon's interior is distinguished from Evolution IX by the use of a chrome finish for the air vent controls and door handles to lend a slightly classier touch to the interior.

Both grades use the same Momo steering wheel as Evolution IX. GT also shares the alloy accelerator, brake and clutch pedals used on its sedan cousin. GT-A uses the same accelerator pedal but has a slightly larger alloy brake pedal.

Evolution Wagon uses double-sealing weatherstrips introduced on Evolution IX, to beef up sound insulation performance in the dash panel, and strategically places soundproofing, noise-absorbing and vibration damping materials in the newly acquired luggage compartment.

Lancer Evolution Wagon models are fitted with Recaro full bucket front seats upholstered with a combination of non-slip coated fabric, comfortable Alcantara suede and genuine leather. The thigh bolsters are lower than on Evolution IX to facilitate easy entry and exit while still providing optimum location and hold. The rear seat uses the same 60/40 split back configuration as the Lancer Wagon but features Alcantara suede back and squab facings with protein leather on the side bolsters. The rear seat back has 5 reclining settings for greater occupant comfort.

Measuring VDA 530-litres (5 occupants, luggage tonneau cover not deployed), the luggage compartment is slightly smaller than in Lancer Wagon. The 60/40 split rear seatback, roll-up tonneau cover, 3-section luggage compartment underbox, four securing hooks and accessory power socket together yield a high-utility and easy-to-use luggage compartment.

Body Lancer Evolution Wagon uses the same platform (engine compartment, front floor and rear floor) as Evolution IX. The body takes Lancer Wagon's side panels and roof panel and adds reinforcements at the A, B, C and D pillar joins.

The addition of a large floor cross member reinforces the joins between the rear floor, rear wheelhouse and body side structure and brings a substantial increase in torsional stiffness. Major reinforcements have been added to the joins between the rear floor, rear end panel and the bottom of the D-pillar.

The addition of a reinforcement at the top of the rear shock absorber mounting and an extra 50 spot welds in the tailgate opening help realize a lightweight and very stiff body at a minimum weight.

Lancer Evolution Wagon uses the lightweight alloy engine hood and alloy front blister fenders from Lancer Evolution IX and the Lancer Wagon tailgate with oversize tailgate spoiler used on the Lancer Wagon Ralliart model. The Evolution Wagon-exclusive rear bumper borrows the Lancer Evolution IX design motif.

Flowing from the trailing edge of the rear door, the edgy rear blister fender slips down and disappears under the rear quarter panel in a design that takes its cue from the front blister fender.

Available as a dealer option, a rear high-performance sway bar enhances the already superior levels of rear end stability which realizes steering response and handling characteristics unparalleled in the station wagon category.

Powertrain The GT grade uses the latest 4G63-type MIVEC intercooler-turbocharged engine mated to a 6-speed manual transmission to generate flat and wide torque with excellent response at all engine speeds. Producing maximum output of 280 PS (206 kW) / 6500 rpm and 40.0 kg-m (39.2 N-m) / 3000 rpm of torque, the engine gives Evolution Wagon performance that is unmatched in the station wagon category. The GT-A powertrain mates the 4G63-type intercooler-turbocharged engine, with its smaller turbocharger giving outstanding low-end and mid-range torque and response, to a 5-speed automatic transmission. The power unit generates maximum output of 272 PS (200 kW) / 6500 rpm and 35.0 kg-m (343 N-m) / 3000 rpm of torque to deliver top ranking performance for an automatic model.

4WD system Lancer Evolution Wagon's full-time four-wheel drive system uses Mitsubishi Motors Active Center Differential (ACD*1), which raises traction and handling to new levels of excellence, and a mechanical limited-slip rear differential that controls torque feed for superior traction and straight line stability over all surfaces. The 6-speed manual transmission GT grade uses a helical limited-slip front differential that takes the sport driving experience another step higher.

Suspension Lancer Evolution Wagon uses the same inverted MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension as Evolution IX. The monotube shock absorbers deliver superior damping response and handling performance and were developed jointly with Bilstein.

Brakes Lancer Evolution Wagon uses the same powerful Brembo high-performance brakes as Evolution IX, with 4-piston 17-inch ventilated discs at the front and 2-piston 16-inch ventilated discs at the rear. With Mitsubishi's Sport ABS*2 giving enhanced steering control under hard braking and Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD*3) automatically regulating the front-to-rear braking force ratio to match vehicle load, the braking system delivers responsive, smooth and predictable stopping power under all conditions.

Wheels & tyres Lancer Evolution Wagon rides on the same 17 x 8JJ Enkei alloy road wheels as Evolution IX but finished in bright silver rather than dark grey. As with Evolution IX, Evolution Wagon is also available with 17 x 8JJ BSS super-lightweight forged alloy wheels as a factory-fitted option.

The wheels are shod with the same 235/45R17 93W ADVAN A046D tyres fitted to Evolution IX GT and designed to offer outstanding abrasion resistance and superior wet adhesion.

If you’d like a vision of what might be available two or three years from now, check out this story which shows details of Mitsubishi’s ongoing development of in-wheel motors to create the next-generation all-wheel control technology. The company predicts that future Lancer Evolutions might feature hybrid technologies not just for conservation’s sake, but for outright performance. The company statement stated, “an in-wheel motor makes it possible to regulate drive torque and braking force independently at each wheel without the need for any transmission, drive shaft or other complex mechanical components.

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