Mitsubishi is planning a radical overhaul of its Lancer Evolution by changing the next incarnation into a diesel hybrid. The switch of drivetrain is designed to save the Evo from tightening economy and emissions regs while preserving its trademark mid-range shove.
Mitsubishi is said to have given serious consideration to axing the Evo model altogether. As recently as a month ago, sources in Japan said an earlier project — to switch the car to a petrol hybrid powertrain and base it on the PX-MiEV SUV concept’s platform — was dead.
But now the firm’s R&D department has been given approval to push the car in a different direction: a diesel hybrid.
Engineers hope that the mix of clean-diesel torque and electric motor assistance will allow the Evo XI to deliver a 0-62mph time of under five seconds, yet cut CO2 emissions to well under 200g/km.
Handling will be entrusted to a revised version of the Evo’s highly rated four-wheel drive system, S-AWC, which integrates steering, braking and traction control.
The switch marks a big gamble for Mitsubishi. Diesel hybrid will, in effect, rule the Evo out of competition use and could limit its appeal in key markets such as the US and Japan, where diesels have yet to gain widespread acceptance.