Mike Stevens | Apr 7, 2009 | 3 Comments

If the Evo X is already a stunning piece of machinery, what happens when you tweak one for motorsport? We pulled on a helmet, strapped up the harness and found out…

How, exactly, do you build a better mousetrap? Mitsubishi’s Evolution X has been on sale for a while now, and countless aftermarket tuners are getting their hands greasy trying to extract as much performance as possible from it.

It has been proven that big power is achievable from the all-new 4B11 engine that powers the Evo, and the car’s on-track potential is second-to-none (a 1-2-3 finish at the most recent Bathurst 12-hour is ample proof there).

But all that extra performance usually comes at the cost of street-ability. Stripped-out interiors and manic engines are perfect for the racetrack, but a pain to live with on public roads.

To many, the idea of modifying a standard-issue sports car upsets the balance between performance and road-going compliance.

Team Mitsubishi Ralliart, on the other hand, beg to differ.

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TMR (no relation to us, we swear) recently launched its brand spanking new line-up of tune-up parts for the Evo X, which will be sold under the Club Spec label.

There is the odd hard-core piece of equipment in their catalogue (six point rollcage anyone?), but for the most part these are all street-legal, street-friendly bits of kit.

“So it’s soft then?” you say. Well, no. When the standard Evo is already hard as nails, virtually any mod will transport it one step closer to ‘diamond hard’ status.

When those modifications are designed by TMR – the same mob that built the aforementioned Bathurst 12hr-winning Evos – you know the end result is gunna be good.

Let’s start with the engine.

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Previous generations of Evo were all powered by Mitsubishi’s venerable 4G63 mill, an engine that shared the same 2.0-litre turbocharged inline four layout as the all-new 4B11, except with an iron block (the 4B is alloy) and the turbocharger mounted between the engine and the radiator.

Thanks to the Herculean strength of that iron block, large amounts of boost could be fed into the 4G to generate incredible amounts of power. When the alloy-blocked 4B11 superseded the 4G63, modifiers wondered whether the new engine would be just as ‘tune-able’ as the old one.

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As TMR has proven, it sure as hell is.

Forged Mahle pistons are standard, as are forged gudgeon pins and conrods. The alloy block is certainly not an issue and in standard trim it’s incredibly understressed.

How understressed? Well, for their Club Spec package, TMR managed to unlock a full 270kW (53kW more than stock) with nothing more than an ECU tweak and a low-restriction rear muffler.

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Is it quick? The numbers suggest it is, but to properly answer that question we took TMR’s Evo X Club Spec to the DECA driver training facility in Shepparton and let ‘er rip around their short handling course.

“With the twin-clutch SST gearbox in Super Sport mode and the Super All-Wheel Control set to tarmac, this thing is - to put it bluntly - mother-flippingly quick.”

Now, this course isn’t exactly a racetrack. In fact, with severely choppy pavement, two blind crests, a two-lane width and a distinct lack of runoff in some areas, we’d say the handling course is a country back-road that just happens to run in a loop.

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In other words, you don’t want to go too quickly on this particular stretch of blacktop. However, TMR’s Evo Club Spec is so amazingly (and deceptively) fast that going slow simply wasn’t possible.

With the twin-clutch SST gearbox in Super Sport mode and the Super All-Wheel Control set to tarmac, this thing is - to put it bluntly - mother-flippingly quick. The extra 53kW is evident in the way this Evo gathers speed and before you know it you’re travelling at triple digits.

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Slowing down is equally as brutal. Pagid pads haul down the heavy sedan with a locomotive-esque screech, but they’re fade-free and bite hard.

On the day we drove it, the Club Spec was rolling on the Evo’s standard Dunlop SP Sport 600s (rather than the 245R18 R-compound bags it usually wears), but thanks to the lowered progressive-rate springs and a proper alignment, grip was nothing short of eye-widening.

The six-point harness is a worthy addition to the car in such circumstances, and to their credit, the TMR crew developed a simple modification to the standard seats to allow their use.

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For anyone who’s never sat in one, the Evo X’s standard-issue pews are virtually perfect for light track duty – the only reason you’d ditch them for a proper race seat is if you were entering the car in a proper race.

The bolt-in roll cage increases structural rigidity and provides an added level of safety. Remember: the Evo X’s body has slightly less torsional strength than an Evo IX with a welded-in cage, so you can bet this cage makes the X incredibly stiff.

With the front arms bolted in, getting into the front seats is slightly challenging, but the sense of security it provides is a real boon on the track.

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Don’t count on taking more than one passenger with you though, as the rear cage means double-amputees will be the only people capable of sitting on the back seat.

A couple of fire extinguishers are bolted to the floor if things go spectacularly wrong, while our test car had a seat belt cutter Velcro-ed to the dash. You know, just in case.

So, while the mechanical tweaks improve performance, the cage, harness and to a lesser extent, fire extinguishers, improve confidence.

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The twin-clutch gearbox also makes this puppy a doddle to drive, so much so that on my first-ever outing at the DECA handling track I managed to hit some rather incredible speeds (speeds that we probably shouldn’t talk about here).

Even more incredibly, it never felt like I was travelling all that fast. For a car that can very easily (and very comfortably) be driven around town, the way in which it piles on the knots is astonishing.

The standard Evo X is impressive, but hand one over to TMR and they’ll turn it into something truly special.

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All of the parts fitted to our test car can be bolted up to yours for around $15,000, while a set of Dunlop Direzza 03G H1 R-compound semi-slicks can also be fitted for a little over two grand.

Considering that all you’d need to add to make it competition-legal is a battery isolation switch, that’s an absolute bargain.

For a full rundown of available parts check out the list below. If this sounds like the kind of kit you’d like to see on your Evo, give the chaps at Team Mitsubishi Ralliart a call on (613) 9271 3668 or head over to their website.

 

Available Parts

  • Bolt-in roll cage
  • TMR lowered progressive rate springs – front and rear
  • TMR 270kW ECU upgrade (available for both manual and TC-SST models)
  • TMR-enhanced exhaust
  • Competition brake pads
  • Six-point safety harness
  • Modified standard Recaro seats (necessary for harness fitment)
  • Fire extinguishers
  • 4 x Dunlop Direzza 03G H1 245R18

The Last Word

If you’re looking for a competitive car for production car racing or tarmac rally (or you just want to dominate everyone else at your local track day), buy an Evo X and give it to TMR. Enough said.

 

Tony Likes

Incredible pace, confidence-inspiring level of grip, brakes that could halt a 747, perfectly-matched springrates, demonic induction roar, twin-clutch gearbox is (still) brilliant.

 

Tony Dislikes

Cage destroys interior space, licence-shredding power can get the better of you on the street.

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