Mitsubishi selected the 2005 New York Auto Show to unveil the latest version of its hot-compact Lancer Evolution. In addition to greater power and torque, the Lancer Evolution IX receives some exterior modifications.
Originally a racing-derived model, the early Evolutions didn't reach the American market but drew the attention of small-car performance enthusiasts. The first model in the series to go on sale in the United States was the Evolution VIII.
In addition to the regular Evolution IX, Mitsubishi offers an MR Edition with a close-ratio six-speed-manual gearbox and a lesser-equipped RS sedan. Evolution models have all-wheel drive with an active center differential that's intended to improve steering response as well as traction. Three modes are available: tarmac, grass and snow. Limited-slip differentials are installed in the front and rear.
The Evolution IX has roughly the same profile as the company's compact Lancer, but the Evolution is loaded with additional components to instill a high-performance character. A new front fascia contains center bumper air inlets. New smoked front and rear lamp bezels are installed. A new air dam extension and rear-wing wicker bill are available as dealer-installed options.
All models have a fully independent suspension. The MR Edition adds Bilstein monotube shock absorbers. Enkei 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels are standard on all models but the MR Edition, which uses 17-inch forged-aluminum BBS wheels. Brembo disc brakes are installed.
Recaro front sport seats are installed in the five-occupant interior. The driver faces a racing-inspired, height-adjustable, three-spoke Momo steering wheel. Both the regular model and the MR Edition have aluminum pedals. A 140-watt CD stereo is standard, and a 315-watt Mitsubishi/Infinity sound system is optional. The down-to-basics RS version does without such equipment as variable intermittent wipers, power windows and locks, armrests, keyless entry and a stereo.
Under the Hood
The Evolution IX is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that cranks out 286 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 289 pounds-feet of torque at 3,500 rpm. RS and regular models use a five-speed-manual gearbox, while the MR Edition has a six-speed manual.
Antilock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution are standard on the regular model and the MR Edition.