The most anticipated car this year is undoubtedly the Nissan GT-R. It’s dramatically redesigned, a virtual newcomer to the stateside market, and sets off more commercial appeal than pictures of Kim Kardashian in a thong bikini. But it won’t be the fastest car on the track, according to Susumu Koyama, the legendary tuner and vice president of JUN Auto (whose full interview was in the May ’08 issue of 2NR.) He believes, with all his wisdom and proven track record, that another car will take the reins as the most tunable ride for 2008 and will hands-down beat the GT-R on any circuit. That car is the second most anticipated to arrive in the states, the ’08 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X.
Already famous for its underdog-like qualities, what with its closest competitor, the Subaru WRX STI, stealing the spotlight from the World Rally Championships and the X Games, the long line of Lancer Evolutions is more of a crowd favorite long shot than a presidential candidate who doesn’t believe in evolution; the scientific kind anyway-nice try, Mike Huckabee. Despite being in production since 1992 and huge amounts of street cred, the EVO continues to unjustifiably get placed second in every category under the sport-compact all-wheel-drive class garnering no major awards. As the proverbial automotive McLovin, the EVO doesn’t get its much-deserved respect.
But we’re not here to focus on any of the EVO’s shortcomings. We’re not going to compare it to the STI, or even the GT-R. We’re here to investigate why Koyama-san held so much confidence for this beloved little car that could. Let’s start at the beginning, the basics if you will. The EVO X has an all-new chassis platform, an equally new engine, and an entire hardware upgrade in the all-wheel-drive department.
The exterior is finally more proportioned and better groomed than the previous nine generations, with its projector-beam headlights, European-style LED taillights, and a more bold front end design; featuring an angry looking intake and grille-mounted intercooler. The new hood is more aerodynamically fit for the 21st century and the rear wing is no longer obnoxiously loud. Granted, it still sits high off the rear trunk, but doesn’t give off the shopping cart feel.
Underhood, the age-old 4G63 motor is gone and in it’s place sits a brand new inline-four with more power, aluminum block construction, free-revving performance, and a revamped dual MIVEC variable-valve-timing technology. Called the 4B11 (read the sidebar for technical specifications), the new EVO X motor comes with an available six-speed and dual-clutch transmission that can rock the clock out of any track, especially with it’s steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters… But Koyama-san can’t be swayed from the optional five-speed manual.
The chassis will be controlled by the new Super All-Wheel Control technology, which includes the active center differential, yaw control, and stability control previously found in the EVO IX. High-tech innovation presents itself in active steering for quicker response, active braking control, and active suspension dampening, all of which make the changes on the EVO X as dramatic as a post-op tranny. And the changes that JUN Auto made to their EVO X are the necessary face makeup, clothing, and estrogen shots to make it look sexy and sweet.
JUN Auto’s plans for the EVO X platform aren’t even in line with what the Mitsubishi engineers originally had in mind. For example, they’re converting Kumakubo from Team Orange’s new EVO from the all-wheel-drive format to rear-wheel drive (RWD) for drifting, a conceivably hard process that will take them the rest of the year to complete. However, a RWD conversion isn’t unprecedented for JUN, seeing that they drifted a RWD Team Orange Subaru Impreza for the past couple of years. “The Impreza was successful in a lot of the drifting tracks,” Susumu said, “but that won’t necessarily translate to the future success of this EVO X. So we are doing a whole lot of testing on it to work out the kinks.”
The kinks they’ve managed to smooth out are shown in this EVO X. They’ve set the engine’s assurances in Trust, part of the GReddy family, using its air cleaner, intercooler piping, blow-off valve, and boost controller. Spitting out the spent turbo air into competitors faces is a Trust titanium muffler and JUN Sport prototype catalyzer.