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Reports of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo’s death have been greatly exaggerated. After the unsurprisingly angry backlash the company received from its fanbase, Mitsubishi has apparently reversed its decision to kill its flagship rally fighter.
Mitsubishi now must find a way to balance the ferocious performance and cult-status image of the Evolution with the new eco-friendly image it’s developing around the world. The Evo X will still be available, but the next generation will “evolve” into a different direction—something that may surprise the Evo’s thousands of fans.
In a press release, Mitsubishi Motors Corporation Global Chief Executive, Osamu Masuko indicates that perhaps the Evo never was axed and that the automaker has plans for the next generation of the vehicle. Masuko comments that in response to new market demands the automaker, “is considering not advancing the Lancer Evolution concept in the same way as before, but to find a different direction for the Lancer Evolution model to evolve.”
With previous rumors that the car could include hybrid or electric technology, this seems all the more likely by additional remarks that the car’s future direction and the “technologies involved” in it, will be revealed at a later date.
So rest assured Evo faithful, the STi-killer isn’t dead, but it may never be the same.
The Mitsubishi Evo series will not continue into its eleventh model, says Gayu Eusegi, global product director. He may as well have kidnapped Santa, in the minds of rally fans everywhere.
“There is still a demand,” says Eusegi, “but we must stop.” Why? Because, he says, Mitsubishi will concentrate on smaller and more environmentally-friendly cars such as the Global Small Concept, the supermini that will compete against the Toyota Aygo. In addition, Mitsubishi is going all out on EV technology by introducing eight full electric or hybrid cars by 2015.
By cutting out their motorsport heritage, Eusegi said that customers would find it “easier to understand” what Mitsubishi was about. The company pulled out of the World Rally Championship in 2005, anyway, and there’s no room for big-winged dirt heroes in their continuous quest for lowering CO2. And yes, that means no diesel Evo, either.
So prepare yourselves for the end of an era: no more Tommi Mäkinen editions, no FQ400 models with turbochargers the size of cantaloupes, and no more need for Ralliart other than a nifty tire and wheel package. At least Subaru fans will rejoice that they’ve “won” this battle with the STI, though they’ll come around to the realization that fevered competition is better than no competition at all.