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Mitsubishi Lancer EVO VIII (2003 - 2005)

ACCELERATED EVOLUTION (some text hidden) --NONE--


Introductionword count: 98

The Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII probably marked the zenith of the Evo cult in the UK. Fast, capable, affordable and selling like hot cakes, the Evo VIII may not have been the best looking of the Evo line - in fact there's a convincing case for it being the ugliest - but it was launched at a time when Mitsubishi was getting its house in order, youngish buyers had a bit of disposable income and track days were becoming very popular. With no shortage of used stock thus available, you shouldn't have difficulty tracking down a decent example.

Modelsword count: 16

Models Covered: (4 dr saloon 2.0 petrol [260, Mr 280, Mr FQ-300, FQ-320, FQ-330, FQ-340, FQ-400])

Historyword count: 303

For quite a few buyers, the big story regarding the March 2003 launch of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII was the fact that it was the very first Evo model to have full UK factory approval. Prior to the VIII, Evos were imported on a bit of a nudge and a wink basis through third parties such as Ralliart and weren't covered by Mitsubishi's normal warranty and servicing deals. The VIII was different. Ralliart was moved in-house, forming an integral part of the Mitsubishi Motors Corporation and Mitsubishi Motors Europe. Mitsubishi Motors UK was the sole importer and prices dropped by around £2,500 model for model compared to the Evo VII as a result. The product offered wasn't hugely different in concept to the Evo VII. It retained a similar shape, there was still the celebrated 2.0-litre 4G63 engine under the bonnet, in this instance offered in two guises, the standard 276bhp model and an uprated FQ-300 version. The biggest changes under the skin were a six-speed manual gearbox, a freer breathing exhaust and the Super AYC yaw controlling differential. There then followed a rapid proliferation in Evo models. The standard car was slightly revised and relaunched as the MR, and an FQ-330 model was introduced. Probably the most interesting move was the development of the £23,999 budget Evo VIII 260 in April 2004, a car that was eventually sold at just £17,999. The FQ-320 then appeared as did probably the most capable Evo VIII of the lot, the FQ-340, with development of this model line culminating in the FQ-400 a car that was both enormously expensive at £46,999 and thoroughly unpleasant to drive on anything other than a track. The VIII was replaced by the subtly improved Evo IX in June 2005, that car ditching the beaky front end of the VIII.

What You Getword count: 513

The entry-level Evo VIII 260 opens proceedings and makes a very capable and desirable first rung on the Lancer ladder. Recognisable by its slightly less overt rear spoiler, the Evo VIII 260 uses the same two-litre 16v engine as the rest of the Lancer Evo range, this time tuned to generate 263bhp and 262lb/ft of torque. As you might expect, this makes it rather brisk, and the top speed of 152mph means that you won't get left behind in a cross continent blast to the Nurburgring. Most of the Lancer driver aids are featured, including Active Yaw Control, anti lock brakes and electronic brakeforce distribution, although the sophisticated Active Centre Differential is reserved for the next model in the range, the Evo VIII MR FQ. 'Mitsubishi Racing' is a logo seen on certain Japanese market high-performance models and the Evolution VIII MR represents the centrepiece of the Lancer line up. Forged alloy wheels reduce unsprung weight and an aluminium roof panel lowers the centre of gravity. Weight was also taken out of the car's suspension system to make it even lighter on its feet. The engine was tuned to offer stronger performance near the redline with competition use in mind. A full-size rear spoiler and suede Recaro full bucket front seats are fitted as standard, as is a carbon finish dashboard and black headlamp reflectors. The 300bhp Evo VIII MR FQ also features Bilstein suspension and distinctive MR badging. Of course, the MR is a ridiculously quick road car. There are those, however, who feel that ridiculously quick merely represents a good starting point. The MR FQ-320 model with over 320bhp was developed by Mitsubishi Ralliart Europe and in this case the company tweaked and massaged the electronics to produce that big power output. This, coupled with the fact that the FQ-320 weighs only marginally more than a bug's buttock, endows it with quite astonishing acceleration. It's worth saving a little extra if you can for the quite brilliant FQ-340. The FQ-400 is overkill, offering a little more straight line speed, Ralliart aero mirrors, a carbon fibre front lip spoiler, gloss black Team Dynamics alloys and red FQ-400 badging. Pride of place has to go to a refinement with possibly the most ludicrous name in the entire motoring industry. If you can come up with a performance enhancement that revels in a more fantastic name than the 'shark's tooth rear vortex generator' then I'd love to hear from you. Ostensibly a set of plastic teeth attached to the trailing edge of the roof, these serve to break up the airflow to reduce rear drag. At least that's the theory. These became an aftermarket favourite merely due to the fact that they made your car look that little bit gnarlier. They even appeared on the Evo IX. The development of the Evo species can most easily be appreciated from behind the chunky Momo steering wheel. The dash has some neat almost Focus-like angles to it, and the plastics quality is now a bit happier than the Happy Meal toy standard of some earlier Evos.

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Category: Sporting Cars

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This is an excerpt from our full review.
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