Earlier this year at the Geneva Motor Show, Mitsubishi broke some hearts when it turned its once-revered Eclipse into a small SUV. Now it's committing sacrilege once again, turning a different hallowed "E" - the "Evolution" of Lancer Evolution fame - into yet another SUV, and just a year after the last Lancer Evolution was auctioned off. Previewed earlier this month, the e-Evolution concept does at least have some hint of sportiness, along with a lively electric 4WD ride. So it's fun in its own right, even if it's not the "evolution" that Mitsubishi fanboys are looking for.
It looks like we're going to have to get comfortable watching once-sporty Mitsubishi models resurrected as SUVs. Mitsubishi says that the e-Evolution is in line with its greater EV- and SUV-centric strategy. Can a 3000GT-SUV be far behind?
On a positive note, the e-Evolution isn't just another urban grocery-fetcher, it's designed with some fun-loving, precision-handling 4WD flair. The concept is powered by three high-performance electric motors tightly wired to a high-capacity, floor-mounted battery pack. Mitsubishi doesn't indulge the world with details on the number values of any of those components, but it does say that the motors are split up, with a single motor at the front axle and a Dual-Motor Active Yaw Control system at the rear, pairing the two rear motors through an electronically-controlled torque vectoring unit.
All three motors work within the greater Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC) system to tighten up cornering and improve traction. The concept relies on high-performance brakes with electric calipers to deliver smooth, strong stopping power.
Mitsubishi doesn't take the e-Evolution concept fully autonomous, as Nissan has done with the all-electric IMx, but it does fit it with an AI system and plenty of sensors. Interestingly, Mitsubishi's focus is less on safety and increased AI control and more on AI-assisted driver control- and confidence-boosting, leveraging technology to ensure a more satisfying ride. The system reads road and traffic conditions, along with the driver's intent, and provides both active assistance and coaching.
"After building a picture of the driver's skill level, the system constructs a training program that provides advice through voice prompts and the large dashboard display," Mitsubishi explains of the coaching system. "As a result, drivers of all abilities quickly experience a vehicle that behaves the way they want it, and soon they find themselves enjoying the driving experience to an even greater degree."
Styling-wise, the e-Evolution puts the latest iteration of the big, meaty "Dynamic Shield" face, previously seen on the GT-PHEV and eX Concept, at the bow of a rather interesting body. If there's one thing Mitsubishi hasn't shied away from with its recent concepts, it's experimenting with reconfiguring curves and lines into new body shapes. With the e-Evolution it massages a long, swept-back windscreen out from a short hood. The stretched, rear-pushed cabin is further outlined by a flat roofline up top and a long, angled windscreen out back. The roof spoiler, trunk lip and defined character lines create a very real sense of forward-rushing, wind-flowing "motion while standing still." Large wheels give that stationary motion a sturdy base.
Another distinctive part of the styling is the set of floating, body-color roof bars that sit at the edges of the transparent roof, connecting the glassed-over black-out A-pillars and rear windscreen glass. They create a sort of multi-piece floating roof effect, which also ties into the floating roofs and pillars the aforementioned GT-PHEV and eX.
The e-Evolution's distinctive rear-end wears thin, pronged taillights, aerodynamic C-pillar tail fins and bumper vents. The prominent central hexagonal panel that holds the Mitsubishi badge in place is inspired by the spare tire holder on the Mitsubishi Shogun, emphasizing the concept's rugged, 4x4 heritage.
The e-Evolution interior serves as a comfy cocoon focused on the shelf-like dashboard supporting the ultra-wide display and left and right auxiliary screens. A floating control island extends off the center console to put a combination of hard dials, touch inputs and shift knob at the driver's fingertips. A small digital instrument panel sits in back of the flat-bottom U-wheel.
The e-Evolution may not be the Evolution concept to make hearts race, but a distinctively styled, ride-focused 4WD sports SUV with high-tech interior definitely won't be the least inspiring concept on display at the Tokyo Motor Show, where the e-Evolution stars alongside the Eclipse Cross at Mitsubishi's booth.