Mitsubishi has decided to do something truly radical, something that would make fans of the Mitsubishi Evolution raise their hands in protest, start a revolution, burn buildings or overthrow dictators – they intend to build the next Lancer Evolution XI as a diesel-electric hybrid. News of this startling move was brought about in an interview by Autocar magazine with Mitsubishi Motors company president Osamu Masuko. Imagine that, a Mitsubishi Evolution like the Evolution X pictured above may not emit a single exhaust drone at the traffic lights as the stop-start function has kicked in and when it accelerates, would sound like a Toyota Prius, i.e no sound at all, or like a Volkswagen TDI diesel accelerating or worse still, like a old Mercedes 240d taxi that is still in use somewhere in Africa. It would be pretty shocking. According to President Masuko, the car will be developed within the next 3 to 4 years and will preserve the model in Mitsubishi's model line-up. This mix of a common-rail direct injection turbocharged 4 cylinder diesel engine and an electric motor is targeted to deliver a 0-62mph time of under five seconds and achieve CO2 emissions to less than 200g/km. The future Evo will still have the S-AWC four-wheel drive system, which integrates braking, steering and traction control to make the car handle like it always does – ridiculously well on B-roads. The reason for this radical change is the ever tightening emissions control put up all over the world. In fact, Mitsubishi even wanted to scrap the model but an uproar by Mitsubishi Evo enthusiasts around the world has basically saved it from total extinction. But somehow no one expected a diesel to power an Evo. It is quite unsettling to me, a diehard petrolhead. Diesels have never really had a place in my heart and soul. Anyway, whatever this petrolhead's opinion is, the future Mitsubishi Evo will be diesel-electric hybrid, thus saving it from ever tightening emissions regulations while preserving its trademark mid-range shove. I wonder what would happen to the Evo's top-end shove then? A 5,500rpm redline? Even modern diesels still live in the lower reaches of the rpm stratosphere. The current Evolutions usually rev to 7,000rpm with peak power at 6,500rpm. This future diesel hybrid Evo should only rev till 6,000rpm and throw all of its power like any modern common rail turbo diesel – from 1,500rpm and onwards to about 5,500 and then go totally flat like Hugh Hefner without his dose of Viagra. With a petrol powered turbocharged car, you get the appetizer, then the main course and then dessert in a smooth flow – the appetizer is the time when the turbo spools up – the period before all hell breaks loose, the main course it when it does break loose and you're running the wave till dessert where you're reaching up for the next gear and things flow all over again. With a diesel, the appetizer, main course and dessert gets lumped together and you have nothing later. To those in the know, this is unsatisfying at times. The electric motor would only be of assist and while it is linear in power delivery, would only add to a small portion of the power. I am curious how the power delivery of this diesel hybrid Evolution will be. But I doubt things will ever be the same as you won't get that explosive power delivery that we've come to love from the Mitsubishi Evolutions throughout the years. I truly hope that somehow in the next two or three years Mitsubishi is going to come up with the technology to keep the Evolution petrol powered yet green, or come up with a diesel hybrid thingy that has the same fabulous power delivery so that future generations will not only hear or read about it from their parents, or grand-parents but get to experience it too. If the picture above was a video with sound, you'd hear that Mitsubish Lancer Evolution's exhaust droning (an Evo VII - albeit quite dull sounding as the 4G63 engine sounds quite industrial instead of soulfull singing), the turbo spooling up (as it's an uprated item) and then exploding in unison all the way to over 6,500rpm. I don't think a diesel would be able to sing so high up in the rev-range. I am quite sad that this is where the Mitsubishi Evolution needs to end up. Maybe we should stop saving the ozone layer, the trees, the orangutans or the polar ice-caps. Maybe we should save the petrol engined Mitsubishi Evolution from extinction. Now that would be a cause worth fighting for wouldn't it?
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