Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX 2005-07: Future classic
Joe Kenwright gives us the lowdown on a hot collectible
2005-2007 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX
Before anyone dismisses the Evo IX (launched here in August 2005) as a derivative of a lacklustre Lancer runabout, it's worth recalling that Shelby Mustangs and Torana GTR XU-1s were derived from everyday models.
The Evo IX's 'embedded' engineering makes a replica Evo IX unviable and unlikely. Due to a 500 cars-per-annum sales rate that ended in September 2007, factory originals will never be common, either, when so many were raced, rallied or simply driven into the ground.
By 2005, there were few genuinely bad cars sold in Australia. That the $56,789 Evo IX - several thousand dollars cheaper than its predecessor - still stands as one of the year's greatest drives regardless of price says it all.
Wheels summed it up in 2007 after the Evo IX thumped the E-Series Clubsport R8 and Subaru Impreza WRX STi. "From the moment your butt slips into those supportive Recaros, you fire up the willing little 2.0-litre and point the thing at the first corner, you'll find that the visceral thrill of the Subaru and the all-of-a-piece performance of the HSV come together in the Evo."
Mitsubishi left nothing to chance. The shell had 200 extra welds and reinforced suspension mounts, plus an aluminium roof, bonnet, front guards and side-impact bars. Stronger and 60kg lighter than the Evo VIII, it also had a lower centre of gravity. Inverted front struts, a front strut brace, sophisticated multi-link rear-end and Brembo brakes matched the potent drivetrain.
The proven 4G63 2.0-litre intercooled-turbo engine had reduced internal friction, the latest MIVEC variable-valve timing optimised for an even spread of torque and more linear delivery, and reduced exhaust back pressure for a healthy 206kW/355Nm. Because 206kW was the self-imposed limit for hot Japanese cars, it was a minimum figure. The new six-speed manual's slick, metallic shift-action invited use.
For the Evo IX, the previous combo of Active Centre Differential and Super Active Yaw Control was refined and Tarmac, Gravel or Snow settings covered most motorsport contexts. Tarmac was code for a wicked, tail-out rear-drive experience - quick, involving and safe. A mid-13sec 0-400m and 5.4sec 0-100km/h were nothing to sneeze at and accessible on any road, in any weather - enough to overshadow the rear park bench and sometimes brutal ride.
Hardcore packages from local factory-sanctioned Team Mitsubishi Rally and optional Performance Pack with Bilsteins and BBS alloys left some examples more complete than others. Even if later Evos are quicker, the last-of-series agility and $30-40,000 pricing for the very best Evo IX examples takes some beating.
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