Almost forty degrees Celsius, dry mouth, sweaty forehead. Tomb silence. It is after four in the afternoon when Leo Sposito made the last click of the rehearsal and looks at me with the expression of mission accomplished. It’s the eve of the end of the year, almost everyone was gone. There was a mixture of satisfaction and sadness in the air: work done, but a farewell awaits. In front of me, alone and between walls of closed boxes, the first of the last Lancer Evolution for the Brazilians: # 1 of the Evo X 90 John Easton, special series of goodbye sports.
I confess that I never thought to live this moment. It still seems like yesterday when my childhood friend, Renato Makio, met me to show the Four Wheels test with the Lancer Evolution VI. We had just taken our driver’s licenses almost fifteen years ago. For me, LanEvo has always been like the Porsche 911, Golf GTI and of course, as its archrival Subaru Impreza WRX: the motorized Coca-Cola, things that would never stop being produced, that would always be there – and, who knows, with A lot of work and luck in life, one of us could get in the garage one day.
Fuckin ‘Quick John
But the story of 23 years and ten generations is on its last page. There will be no Lancer Evolution XI. For these last lines, the Brazilian Mitsubishi last year commissioned the former Ralliart team boss to win the four Evo titles at the WRC (between 1996 and 1999) a farewell series of only 90 units – and so was Evo X John Easton.
This English engineer is the guy behind the deadly limited FQ versions (of fuckin ‘quick, or quick to c …), sold in Britain. Its penultimate creation, the Evo X FQ 440 MR, had 446 hp and its 40 units were sold out in less than twelve hours. Easton is the owner of MML Motorsports, the company responsible for the development and construction of Mitsubishi Evolution X of Group N, the current version of Lancer Evolution for the WRC – which also sells a series of high performance kits.
The EVO X John Easton is not extreme like its English relatives (the Brazilian emissions control homologation process hindered bolder ideas), but it bites with force: the 4B11 T / C 2.0 turbocharged engine and the dual clutch transmission and Six DSST gears were remapped by John himself, resulting in a gain of 50 hp (+ 17.2%) and 10.7 mkgf of torque (+ 28.6%) – with the advantage of maintaining the unspoilt factory warranty. It’s 340 hp at 6,500 rpm (turning at 7,000 rpm) and 48 mkgf at 3,500 rpm, enough to take the Mitsubishi to 100 km / h in the top 5 s. The engine has block and aluminum head, double variable control and its turbo TD05HA-152G6-12T employs titanium rotor in the turbine and aluminum in the compressor.
In addition to the signed MML plate on the engine cover, the Evo X John Easton is identified by a sticker on the rear, a numbered plate on the dashboard and two unique finishes: the 18 “BBS forged wheels are painted with matte graphite and the finish on Round the grid is red. The car is available in five colors: black, red, silver, gray and white.
All business, no frills
With seven years and a few months in the back (production began in October 2007), it is to be expected that the architecture of the Evo X booth has a certain flavor of time tunneling. Almost flat face panel, little variation of textures and almost no rubbery plastic denounce the age of the project, but at the same time there is a climate of rusticity straight to business that is typical of Japanese sports cars – see the interior of the current Nissan GT-R and Subaru BRZ.
On the other hand, in comfort and safety features, it is well served: seven air bags, twilight and rain sensors, digital air conditioning, multimedia system with GPS, Bluetooth, CD and DVD and heating system in the Recaro’s leather and suede seatbacks, which only feature distance and angle adjustments – here, there’s no way to put a stool up there, no…
The ergonomics of driving are almost perfect. You sit very low, with all the controls at hand, in a position typical of a German sports sedan, for example. But there is no distance adjustment in the steering column and the beautiful and huge magnesium paddle shifters are fixed on the spine, which may not be to everyone’s liking. In theory, you should not shift gears, but at the speed corners you may be forced to take one hand off the wheel to make the gears before the engine reaches the redline.
In action: Lancer Evo X and Evo X John Easton
When we talk about Lancer Evolution, we basically talk about three things: sublime trapping in curve outings, aggressive but extremely safe and controllable dynamics and visceral experience. This trio of features is present in all its generations. Check out our onboard video of both the conventional Evo X and the Evo X John Easton.
The integral traction is what allows the Evo X to accelerate with so much intensity in the exits of curve without destracionar. In theory, this would induce an understatement due to overloading of front tire functions (traction of engine torque and steering of the vehicle), but this is where the active electrohydraulic differentials are present, both in the central differential (ACD) and On the rear differential (AYC – Active Yaw Control, or “active yaw control”). Both work with readings of various sensors: speed of each of the wheels, longitudinal and lateral acceleration, steering angle and speed, relative angle of the vehicle in its trajectory, pressure in the brake lines and rotation and engine torque.
The thing works more or less like this: at the points of tangency of the curves, the ACD – the active central differential – relieves (unlocks) as much as possible the work of the front tires, so they use the available grip to steer the vehicle. The front differential has no mechanical locking for the same reason, instead using the vectoring torque system (independent clamp on the brakes, both to prevent unlocking and to cause rotation torques in the vehicle). In the meantime, the AYC – the active rear differential – controls the application of engine torque between the right and left rear wheel, blocking the rear differential as little as possible so as not to induce the under-draft.
At the exit of the corners, when the car is almost in a straight line, the ACD sends more traction to the front wheels and the AYC further locks the rear differential, allowing both rear wheels to drive with full force. Locking and unlocking is accomplished by increasing or reducing the hydraulic pressure in the differential circuit, increasing or reducing the coupling of the friction discs.
In conditions such as gravel, mud or snow, the ACD and AYC will assume different attitudes, always looking for the best compromise between traction and attitude at the entrances and exits of the curve – that is why, next to the gearbox, there is a button for Choose the type of terrain. And next to it, there is another key, in which you choose between the dynamic settings Normal, Sport and Super Sport: this last mapping leaves the car extremely radical with regard to the behavior of the accelerator and differentials. Not to mention the dual-clutch gearbox, which turns into a real sledgehammer in the back, almost like a competition transmission – even though the range is relatively long compared to the latest generation DSGs of the Audi RS, for example. By the way, at the end of the video you can notice the oil overheating warning, which happened after about an hour of beatings of several journalists at an ambient temperature of over 35ºC. I think it’s worth the discount. After a ten-minute break, everything went back to normal.
With this sophisticated and complex system of differentials – whose operating principles are the same as the Nissan GT-R -, the Evo X manages to have an aggressive and safe attitude at the same time at the entrances and exits of the curve. If it detects a trigger on the steering wheel at the corner input, the differentials will work to make the car slip slightly on the side, but with maximum traction and trajectory maintenance. In this also helps the agile and communicative power steering box, with ratio of 13.3: 1.
But of course Evolution does not do this work alone with electronics and differentials: roof, front mudguards and aluminum hood to lower the center of gravity; Forged BBS wheels 18 × 8.5 “(8.4 kg each) and forged aluminum suspension arms to reduce unsprung mass and make suspension more agile; Bilstein dampers and Eibach springs with load for road and track use and a nice set of Brembo brakes (front: 350 mm discs, four piston calipers, rear: 330 mm discs with two large piston calipers) are part Of the japa cookbook.
And what is it like to fly an Evo X on the track? Man, it’s simple: speed it up and go. As in a Porsche Boxster, the learning curve is flat and obvious, which does not mean that there is no emotion, quite the opposite: the sensations are frank and visceral. The brakes inspire confidence and bear a lot of abuse, the steering is very communicative, the suspension setup is subtly front but the differentials work at all times for the car to use the four tires well, and if you leave the track, Active differentials will ensure easy recovery. The point is that the Evo X has so much dynamic set that you always think you can have more power under the right foot and more gripping tires on your hands to get the most out of the set. And that’s why there are virtually no original Evos running around.