There's nothing more Torquecafe would love to see than a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution XI, a fire-spitting, all-wheel-drive small sedan with next-level Super-All Wheel Control, electric-assisted turbocharger with next to no lag, and perhaps 340kW showing German imitators such as the Mercedes-AMG A45 who's boss.
However, and not to instantly deflate you, but sadly, this is pure fiction, our imaginations running wild. We will never see another Lancer Evolution, not even an electric one. But that's not to say we won't see any more performance Mitsubishis that carry the Evo torch, even an Evolution badge.
Before we get to the future of performance Mitsubishis, a quick refresher. Mitsubishi launched the Evolution brand with the Lancer in 1992, a petite sedan with a 2.0-litre turbocharged, intercooled inline-four, full-time all-wheel-drive and a five-speed manual gearbox. Mitsubishi reduced weight, increased body rigidity and optimised the suspension of its rally-bred road car. There were Recaro seats and a Momo steering wheel, while the highly tuned engine produced 184kW and 309Nm. The original Lancer Evolution sold out within days.
Over two decades, nine generations followed, creating one of the most successful dynasties the performance car world has known. The Lancer Evo sparred with its arch-rival, the Subaru Impreza WRX STI, not just on winding bitumen roads – the wetter and slipperier, the better – but also the gravel stages of the hard-fought World Rally Championship. A Finnish bloke called Tommi Makinen won four straight World Rally Championships between 1996 and 1999 driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, creating a legend that lives on to this day.
So when Mitsubishi sadly discontinued the Lancer Evolution X in 2015, and then the Lancer itself in 2017, fans were heartbroken, lost and confused. Mitsubishi told them it needed to focus on crossovers and SUVs, a bitter pill to swallow.
In 2024, however, the brand is starting to think about performance models again.
“I can't say with which products, other than to say Mitsubishi is studying the whole Ralliart concept,” Mitsubishi Australia CEO Shaun Westcott told Torquecafe, who said Mitsubishi means proper performance business again. “That is the indication from some very senior executives in Mitsubishi, on public record.”
One vehicle that's previewed potential Ralliart-branded performance models is the Outlander Vision Ralliart, a concept shown at Tokyo Auto Salon 2022. With massively pumped guards, the Vision Ralliart hints at a performance plug-in hybrid Outlander with a new, triple electric motor powertrain and plenty of grunt. We'll have to see if it makes production, but Mitsubishi has said it's not just a concept.
Mitsubishi is planning a full revival of the Ralliart performance brand, but as for the Evolution moniker – one which they wouldn't mess with lightly – it would have to be on an SUV. At least there's precedent for an Evolution SUV, with the original Pajero Evolution produced between 1997 and 1999 – a homologation special produced for the Dakar Rally.
Our best guess, or hope, is the Evolution brand appears on an all-electric, all-wheel-drive SUV somewhere in the future, one whose electric motors can vector torque in ways the original Lancer Evolution could only dream of, and one that could sprint from zero to 100km/h in half the time of even an Evo X. While that's our imagination running wild again, it's not too far from the realms of possibility.