Mitsubishi Evo VIII: The next chapter
By Feann Torr
Mitsubishi Evo VIII
The potent 2.0-litre engine develops 195kW
The tidy rear end gets a new carbon wing
Keep the dial above 4300rpm for big fun
After driving Mitsubishi's rally-bred Evo VI, there are few
things in life that have since offered a similar rush.
Driving the car was unlike anything else I'd ever done -
it responded to my input with lightning quick reflexes, and
the AWD Lancer-based hot rod's rear end would easily step
out around roundabouts in second gear, such was the power.
The combination of huge power, low weight and effective power
delivery to all four wheels makes for an intoxicating experience,
so with the arrival of the Evolution VIII, can the next generation
create a whole new experience?
We'll know soon enough, but then there are bigger issues
for Mitsubishi at the present time, and the Evo VIII is a
crucial confidence boost for the company, one which will help
generate much-needed interest in the Japanese marque's line-up.
The engine that Australian spec Evo VIII's will be de-tuned
slightly and won't be quite as potent as the Tommi Makinen
Edition (TME) Evo VI (click here
for the road test), but on the other hand it will cost a good
The Evolution VIII will fetch $61,990 in Australian currency,
where the only option is leather interior trim, which will
Power is provided by an improved version of the 2.0-litre,
inline 4-cylinder, 16-valve DOHC intercooled, turbocharged
The powerplant generates 195kW of power @ 6500rpm, and 355Nm
of torque @ 3500 rpm.
There is an ultra flat torque band between 3000-5000rpm that
has always been the 4G63's trademark and to cope with this
torque, cooling performance has been improved by uprating
the water pump capacity and by enlarging the water passages
in the turbocharger.
Engine durability and reliability have also been improved
by uprating the aluminium pistons and forged steel conrods.
These detail improvements deliver an engine that combines
competition-ready but street-friendly power with better durability.
The valve springs are almost 50% lighter after a change in
shape, while the valve spring tensioners are almost 75% lighter
after switching to aluminium and shape optimisation.
This weight reduction in the valvetrain has lowered moment
of inertia and, with the reduced valve spring load, friction.
The Evo VIII will sprints from 0-100 km/h in 6.1 seconds,
and will cover the quarter mile (0-400m) in 14.5 seconds,
and has a top speed of 245km/h.
Mitsubishi also states that the new Evo VIII returns respectable
fuel economy of 10.9 litres/100 kilometres.
What else will #8 in the Evo family bring to the table? Well,
grab a cup of tea and take a seat, because this may take a
while - I really love the Evo models.
Apart from the obvious changes, such as the new styling and
upgraded interior, there are plenty of chassis tweaks that
promise to deliver a more complete drivers package.
Detail optimisation of the Evolution VIII's MacPherson strut
front and multi-link rear suspension is said to result in
better on-the-limit handling stability, and the use of thicker
rods in the rear shock absorbers improves damping response
and steering linearity.
Damping rates in both front and rear shock absorbers have
been altered over previous Evo models in order to improve
responsiveness and damping, and increase the footprint slightly.
The rear axle fastening bolts have been redesigned to boost
camber stiffness, thus improving responsiveness and making
it easier to keep the vehicle on the intended path.
Notable, though, for Evo VIII is the use of aluminium for
all the suspension links front and rear in order
to reduce unsprung weight and improve stability under high-speed
And talking about reducing weight, the Evo VIII achieves
even better weight reduction over its predecessor, particularly
in the front end, upper body and the unsprung weight
areas that contribute most to handling stability. For example,
the 2.5 kilogram drop in engine weight contributes to better
vehicle response by lessening the load at the front of the
vehicle, as well as lowering the centre of gravity.
For similar equipment levels and fuel load the Evo VIII is
about 7.7 kg lighter than its predecessor. The weight reduction
and changes over Evo VII are:
Engine and drivetrain -2.5 kg
Carbon Fibre rear spoiler -2.0 kg
Alloy wheels -3.2 kg
New chassis tweaks mean better on-road manners
To improve handling stability and perceived driving quality
over its predecessor, the Evolution VIII's body underwent
an exhaustive program to increase structural strength and
stiffness efficiently and effectively, pinpointing those areas
giving the largest gain in strength for the smallest increase
The upper and lower body join, a major factor in overall
stiffness, has been strengthened with the addition of large
reinforcements to inner and outer panels at the bottom of
the centre pillar.
For the Evo VIII, the front deck crossmember attachment point
reinforcement at the foot of the A-pillar on the driver's
side is complemented by a similar reinforcement on the passenger's
Suspension mounting stiffness has also been uprated by strengthening
the middle of the strut tower bar and its point of attachment
to the body. The stiffer body and suspension will help to
improve handling feel and enhance the integrity of the driver-car
relationship, making what was a real giant killer into less
intimidating and more mild mannered vehicle.
When the turbocharger is getting forceful and the road is
not perfect - which is more often than not in Australia -
the Evo VI would sometimes become a handful, and the new Evo
promises to be more user friendly.
Mitsubishi has also seen fit to include a number of safety
features. They include:
Mitsubishi's RISE body construction (further stiffened and
reinforced over Evo VII)
Mitsubishi's acclaimed AWD Control System featuring ACD, Super
AYC and Sports ABS (with EBD)
Large Brembo ventilated discs with 4-pot and 2-pot calipers
(front and rear respectively)
Driver and passenger airbags
Keyless remote central locking system with engine immobiliser
Side door impact bars
Front 3-point ELR seatbelts with pre-tensioners
Front adjustable seatbelt anchors
Rear 3-point ELR/ALR seatbelts in all three positions
3 Child restraint anchorages and fittings
I'll briefly touch on the AYC, or Active Yaw Control, because
after it was introduced on the Evo IV it came under some criticism.
The reason for this was that it wouldn't transfer enough torque
between rear wheels to match the increased power outputs of
the latest Evolution models, particularly when shod with high-grip
tyres and driven on a race circuit.
Responding to these criticisms, Mitsubishi has taken AYC
to a new level with Super AYC, which will be fitted to most
Evo VIIIs. The new Super AYC system works to reduce yaw (or
understeer) by making use of a planetary gear differential
as opposed to a bevel gear, which in layman's terms simply
means the new unit is able to transfer twice the torque of
the previous AYC between right and left rear wheels.
To realise its full potential, Super AYC also underwent an
extensive proving program on prototype vehicles at Nurburgring
in Germany, as well as other testing to simulate competition
driving. Furthermore, the AWD control system features automatic
switching between three modes Tarmac, Gravel and Snow
to enable quicker and optimum control response for
changes in road surface.
New headlight cluster uses halogen and xenon
The brake light design is suitably technical
The new design is less angular than the Evo VII
As far as the new look goes, the Evo VIII didn't really excite
me when images first emerged from the Nihon in 2003, but over
the last year the new design has really grown on me, and the
six-spoke wheels give a late 90s Impreza WRX look (read: tough).
I like the more progressive styling, and though the Evo VII's
more angular appearance is a slightly more aggressive, the
the new global Mitsubishi design philosophy works well in
It also features significant advances in aerodynamic and
cooling performance that has been gained from extensive testing
during development on the Nurburgring in Germany, and in Mitsubishi's
own advanced wind tunnel facility.
The company has also gained important feedback obtained from
the Evolution's participation in the WRC and other rally events,
and intercooler efficiency has been improved as well, which
translates directly into engine performance, boosted thanks
to a 10% enlargement of the mid-bumper air intake.
Reducing drag and lift, Evolution VIII's exterior lines give
it better high speed straight line stability and handling
through corners than its predecessor.
The design also achieves the increased cooling performance
necessary to extract the full potential of the model's engine
The radiator cooling air intakes in the front grille have
been slightly reduced in size to lower drag. But this won't
affect engine performance as the hot air extraction vents
in the engine hood are 60% larger than on Evolution VII, and
with an improved heat protector design, they effectively double
Extraction efficiency has also been improved by moving the
vents 40mm forwards and by adding a kickup to the leading
edge to generate more negative pressure (vacuum). As well
as reducing drag and front lift, these detail improvements
also boost the radiator/intercooler cooling performance.
The side air vents on Evolution VII have been eliminated
to reduce drag and weight, and to allow the hood vents to
be increased to the maximum size permissible under WRC regulations.
And that was one of the things that I noticed most of the
Evo VI - heat build-up.
If not for the bonnet vents, the engine cylinder heads would
cook, and after enthusiastic driving, you could even see the
exhaust headers glowing orange. The 60% increased vent size,
then, will help with endurance, allowing the Evo VIII to go
harder for longer.
In addition to the increased downforce and engine cooling,
the Evolution VIII also boasts a coefficient of drag that
is 0.01 slippier than Evo VII.
The front end is distinguished by its integral grille-front
bumper, the centre of which has been extended 35mm forwards.
These design elements again help lower drag while retaining
Evolution's outstanding manoeuvrability through corners.
The Evolution VIII also features a new diffuser which, fitted
downstream of the venturi tunnel, directs cooling air onto
the drivetrain. The diffuser reduces air resistance in the
components downstream of it by slowing down, without disrupting,
the flow of air accelerated by the venturi tunnel, and improves
brake cooling at the same time.
To comply with WRC regulations and to reduce weight further,
the spoiler uses a fixed-attack angle horizontal wing in place
of the adjustable angle wing on its predecessor. This, and
the use of CFRP, has reduced the spoiler weight by some 2kg.
These advances in aerodynamics deliver a significant reduction
in overall lift and improvement in high speed handling stability,
as well as improving the balance between front and rear aero
Though the gear change in the Evo VI TME was far from lousy,
the Evolution VIII is again fitted with a close-ratio five-speed
manual transmission, but this time the transmission assembly
durability and stiffness has been upgraded by switching to
stronger materials for some of the gears, and by reinforcing
Improvements to the single dry plate clutch assembly include
the use of a wide-angle clutch torsion damper to reduce rattle
and noise (NVH), while optimisation of the clutch cover leverage
realises better release at high engine speeds.
ENKEI 17-inch wheels cover big Brembo calipers
The Brembo brakes from past Evo's have been retained, which
is no bad thing. The Evo VI TME would pull up on a dime, time
after time with little fade, and the brakes really did inspire
confidence to push deeper into corners. Together with the
the Evo VIII's lighter weight, it should decelerate even more
Mitsubishi's Sports ABS uses a steering wheel angle sensor
to detect steering input, which helps to regulate braking
force at each wheel independently and improve steering performance
Riding on 6-spoke ENKEI 17-inch x 8-inch spun-rim alloy wheels,
and shod with 235/45 R17 93W Bridgestone RE050 A Potenza performance
tyres, the Evo VIII will offer impressive levels of grip.
After they've been cast, the rims are subjected to a heating
and spinning process that produces a flowing and fibrous metallic
structure similar to that of a forged wheel. This process
enables a thinner rim gauge while retaining the necessary
strength and rigidity, saving some 3.2kg, and reducing unsprung
So, there you have it - the new Evo VIII in all its glory.
It's sleeker, more efficient, lighter and puts its power down
more effectively than ever before.
Since it was first launched in the early 1990s as the 187kW
Evo I, it has proven itself in the heat of battle in the most
tortuous rallies throughout the world.
The Evolution VIII has been improved in almost every respect,
and though the torque has dipped somewhat, that can put down
partially to Australia's lower grade fuel.
But at a more affordable price, and with all the new innovations,
the 100 units that will be coming to Australia will be snapped
up fast, so if you're interested, get a hold of your Mitsu