The Mitsubishi Evo could return as a pure EV - but should it?
Company exec says it's a possibility...
Whichever way you look at it, the Mitsubishi Evo is an icon. Derived from the Lancer saloon, which made its name on the world's rally stages, it became the darling of the modified car scene, as well as being everyone's favourite PlayStation steed.
These days, though, rally cars are based on mundane hatchbacks such as the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo, while the game-playing youth have been lured towards fire-breathing exotica from Lamborghini and Pagani. Combine that with environmental concerns, emissions legislation and customer tastes shifting towards SUVs, and the wantonly wasteful Evo was clearly living on borrowed time.
Somewhat inevitably, production ceased in 2015.
The Evolution X was the last Evo, with its final edition selling out in 2015.
Resurrection on the cards?
Ever since the Evo died, car enthusiasts have been crying out for a replacement, but Mitsubishi has frustrated them at every turn, stubbornly refusing to announce a resurrection. However, while Mitsubishi may not have slaked enthusiasts' thirst for a next-generation Evo, the company has teased us by failing to rule out a new performance car.
Back in 2015, there were rumours that the badge could return on a high-performance version of the ASX crossover, but that never came to fruition.
We’ve long been fans of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution and have built an excellent reputation over the years for sourcing the very best exa
Lance Bradley, Mitsubishi UK's soon-to-depart MD and a self-confessed fan of the old Evo, admitted to Motor1.com that a new kind of high-performance Mitsubishi is entirely possible, but he warned any new version would probably be nothing like the cars we know and love.
The sun doesn't seem to have set on the Evolution badge just yet, but it won't feature on a four-door sports saloon...
"If there were to be one it would probably be different from what it’s currently," he told the international website's British arm.
"The day of the very high-powered saloon car from us is probably gone, but as long as it lives up to the ideals the Evo demonstrated, there’s no reason why we couldn’t do it with a different kind of vehicle.
"Our focus is on SUVs and electrified drivetrains, but it’s possible that there could be an option for a more performance-orientated version of one of the models.”
Bradley also suggested that pure-electric technology was the favoured method of high-performance propulsion, saying: “An electric drivetrain is usually quicker than an internal combustion powertrain, so you can have some very exciting electrified drivetrains.”
Mitsubishi UK's soon-to-depart MD, Lance Bradley (right), told Motor1.com that a new Evo "would probably be different".
However, he admitted that Mitsubishi has to be careful with how it treats the "iconic" Evo badge.
"You do have to be very sensitive," he said. "It’s an iconic car and there’s a lot of people with a very emotional attachment."
So how might a new Evo look?
Well, it seems pretty likely to be a 4x4. Bradley’s comment about SUVs tallies with other reports from international figures at the Japanese carmaker, and recent concepts have made references to high-performance electrified off-roaders.
The least subtle of these came in October, with the e-Evolution SUV concept – an all-electric compact 4x4 – was unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show. Although it carried a derivative of the Evolution badge, it wasn't a performance car per se – the company didn't even announce a top speed or 0-60mph time – but a technical demonstration of what might soon possible.
The bold e-Evolution concept may signpost the future of the iconic Evolution nameplate.
The exterior design included aerodynamic window pillars and enormous wheels, while the interior was equally outlandish. An artificial intelligent system topped the kit list, while an aircraft-style 'yoke' steering wheel and a plethora of digital screens replaced more conventional designs.
Put simply, the e-Evolution was a far cry from a production-ready Evo, but it could signpost the characteristics of a forthcoming performance model.
The e-Evolution concept boasted lots of technology, but Mitsubishi made little reference to its performance.
For a kick-off, the marketing literature that surrounded the e-Evolution reveal spoke of "superior, high-performance, four-wheel-drive control" and "high-performance electric motors, fed by a high-capacity battery system, to deliver smooth, torque-rich responsiveness'. If you sift out the advertising gobbledegook and hyphens, that translates to 'a fast, four-wheel-drive, electric SUV'.
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And although the design may have been outrageous, aspects of it will surely make their way on to future Mitsubishis. The squat, dynamic stance is easy enough to replicate - especially with compact electric motors replacing bulky engines - and the lines are only slightly bolder than those of the forthcoming Shogun Sport.
The e-Evolution's styling could make it into future production cars.
So when can we expect it to arrive?
Ah... that's the million-dollar question. Mitsubishi has been fairly unequivocal in its assertion that a high-performance car does not top its list of priorities, and a recent merger with the Renault-Nissan Alliance may well have put timescales back slightly.
It’s a pretty safe bet, then, that you won’t see new Evos prowling the streets any time soon, but as a long-term prospect, it’s equally safe to say the Evolution name hasn’t quite died yet.
What do you think of Mitsubishi’s plans to place the hallowed Evo badge on an electric SUV? Let us know in the comments below.