Though officially it was hailed as just another of Detroit's conceptual offerings, after the covers came off Mitsubishi's Prototype-X yesterday (8 January 2007), there were few from the company who bothered to deny how close it was in appearance to the highly-anticipated tenth Lancer Evo.
Appearing through the smoke at the Cobo Centre, the Prototype X struck a purposeful, menacing first impression. The Concept X, which was Mitsubishi's first hint at the shape of the Evo X 18 months ago, has been toned down only marginally in the transition into this car; its gaping trapezoid grille, and its bulging bonnet and wheelarches were evident, but in slightly more modest form.
However, as Mitsubishi's North American chief designer David O'Connell told Autocar, there'll be almost no more changes made to the car between now and the Evo X's production debut in Tokyo this year. 'This car is sheet metal,' he pointed out, 'pressed from the moulds of the road car, and inside there's almost no difference between it and the finished car.
'Our official estimate is that it's 95 per cent Evo X,' he went on 'but actually, barring a few details like headlights and door mirrors, if you can look back and distinguish it from the finished car, I'll be very surprised.'