Although the Evo X is not due in the UK until January 2008, Mitsubishi continues to tease us, with a new concept - the Prototype X - unveiled at the Detroit motor show alongside the production versions of the new Lancer saloon.
This is the third show-car hint at the Evo X – the Concept-X and Concept Sportback were shown at various European shows in 2006.
Prototype X looks like it is more-or-less the production Evo X, bar a few slight customisations. Mitsubishi says the sheet metal is the same as the final version, though some of the features on the concept car might not make the final cut.
Under the bonnet, the Protoytype X has an all-new 2.0-litre turbocharged engine based on the new Lancer’s aluminium 4B11 DOHC MIVEC engine and a new electronic all-wheel-drive system called Super-All Wheel Control (S-AWC). Prototype X also previews a new automated manual transmission with paddle shifters.
The drivetrain combines an Active Centre Differential (ACD) with an Active Yaw Control (AYC) rear differential and Active Skid Control (ASC), which should mean that, unless you turn them off, the car will be extremely difficult to throw off the road, unless you actually aim for the hedge.
The new Lancer saloon is a much sharper, sportier looking machine than the outgoing car, and will also be available as a Ralliart model, which is said to live up to its badging even if it is less extreme than the Evo. In fact, the Ralliart version will be the hottest Lancer for mainland Europe, only Britain getting the full-on, fire-breathing all-wheel-drive rally replica.
The Lancer saloon range will be launched in Europe this September, but Mitsubishi UK may delay its introduction in this country to coincide with the debut of the Evo X, to make full use of the ‘halo effect’.
Mitsubishi UK is apparently also a long way down the path of importing the US-made Eclipse coupe and roadster, which will be modified to right-hand drive in Britain. If the plan goes ahead, they should be available in June or July.