Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution XEnlarge Photo
Nearly 300 horsepower of turbocharged, all-wheel drive, dual clutch rally-bred fun is a hard package to improve on, yet a report out today hints that Mitsubishi is planning to do just that for the next generation of the Lancer Evolution--with a diesel-hybrid powertrain.
Batteries and brawn don't mix, you say? Well, there's a fair argument to be made, but the report's details explain how the all-wheel drive hybrid system might just add something special to the mix.
According to Autocar, instead of going the regular hybrid route as previously reported, the Evo XI model could go diesel-hybrid in order to make it as fuel efficient as possible--a key factor to ensuring it meets tightening economy and emissions regulations while maintaining performance.
While a diesel sports car may seem like sacrilege, the other alternative could be no Evo at all. The issue of emissions and fuel economy got so serious that Mitsubishi even considered killing off its popular Evo after the current generation.
If built, the hybrid system would reportedly send around 50 horsepower from an electric motor through the front wheels only, while around 300 horsepower from a four-cylinder turbodiesel would power the rear. Working in concert, they could deliver up to 350 horsepower, enough to rocket the car to 60 mph from rest in about 4.5 seconds. That's about four-tenths quicker than the current car.
This arrangement would allow the next-gen Evo XI to drive short distances on electricity alone, while allowing the torquey electric motor to assist low-speed acceleration in performance driving, much like the application of hybrid tech to cars like Lexus's GS and LS line. The heavily rear-biased power application is likely to make the Evo XI less prone to terminal understeer, but might also make it a bit more vicious on unpaved roads and other slippery surfaces.
Two other high-tech additions are also planned, according to previous reports: active steering and roll control suspension. These two features are intended to make the increasingly heavy and complex Evo handle more nimbly. Helping to tame the rear-biased power delivery will be an updated version of Mitsubishi's electronically controlled active yaw control system.
The next-gen Mitsubishi Evolution XI isn't due to hit production until 2013, however, so much may yet change.