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SEVENTH HEAVEN? (some text hidden)
BY ANDY ENRIGHT
Introductionword count: 109
The Lancer Evolution VII marked a change in focus for Mitsubishi's cult rally replica. Based on the Cedia rather than the Carisma platform, it was a more refined and less extrovert car than its direct predecessor, the Evo VI. Due to its less outrageous personality, the Evo VII was slow to find favour with core customers but they gradually appreciated what an excellent product it was. There are many different variants from which to choose and the internal politics of Mitsubishi's UK importers became a little confusing around the time the Evo VII was introduced, but don't let that stop you if you're considering plumping for a used example.
Modelsword count: 19
Models Covered: (4 dr saloon 2.0 petrol [GSR, RS, RSII, RS Sprint, GTA, Extreme, Extreme S, Extreme SC, FQ-300])
Historyword count: 264
The first inkling that the much-loved Evo VI was about to be replaced came via an innocuous press release issued on the 26th January 2001. "Mitsubishi Motors Corporation announces that the Lancer Evolution VII sophisticated 4WD sports sedan will go on sale at Galant and Car Plaza dealer showrooms throughout Japan on Saturday 3rd February 2001". Of course, sophisticated is a relative term and almost anything would appear rather suave next to an Evo VI, itself hardly the sort of vehicle you'd pull up outside the Garrick Club in. The emphasis was on more sophisticated electronics, better aerodynamics, less weight in the engine, improved turbocharger and intercooler performance and an overall rise in perceived product quality. The first examples to land in the UK arrived via the usual grey import route. The mainstream model - again a relative term - is the GSR, a model with a host of fairly civilised refinements. There is also a stripped down RS model and an RSII that occupies the middle ground between the two versions. An RS Sprint also appeared in late 2001 which is a Ralliart tuned RS that develops 320bhp. The ultimate Evos were developed by Ralliart towards the end of 2001. The Evo VII Extreme (339bhp), Extreme S (357bhp) and Extreme SC(458bhp) aren't for the faint hearted. An automatic version of the Evo VII, the GTA, was announced in January 2002.Mitsubishi rationalised the range in 2002 by offering the 305bhp FQ-300 alongside the GSR. The Evo VII was superceded in January 2003 by the Evo VIII, a car that looked a little more aggressive.
What You Getword count: 360
The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VII may not be most people's idea of a pretty car, but it's certainly a good deal easier on the eye than either of its direct forebears, Evos V and VI. Evolution is said to refine the species, and it's certainly rounded off a lot of the rough edges of the Evo bloodline. However, anyone expecting a significant softening of the performance envelope could well be in for a rude awakening. Hardcore enthusiasts will still lust after the bumps, bulges, warts and wilful ugliness of the Evo VI, but they'd be missing out. The latest version of the Evo VII is a better car in so many ways that perhaps we can forgive its less aggressive mien. In a bid to stave off the inevitable flood of grey import models, official UK models boast a titanium turbo, full rustproofing and an ECU that's been remapped to clear our emissions regulations. A UK 'passport' served to identify the vehicle as an official car to any of the fifty UK Ralliart dealers who will honour the three-year warranty. Not only does this bring peace of mind, but it also guaranteed a healthy resale price for the car, its official status being a guarantee of known provenance and scrupulous upkeep. In theory. 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 the Evo VI. The 40kg weight penalty of the better interior and longer wheelbase body has been offset by a massive increase in rigidity and better technology to deploy the available power. Make no mistake, the Evo VII is both a nicer place to spend time and as quick from point to point as its predecessor. The Evo VII GTA mixes a manic engine with a middle-aged transmission and found few takers in the UK. Perm any of the RS, FQ-300 or Extreme models if you accept as inevitable that your driving history should be interspersed with six month spells as a pedestrian.
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Category: Sporting Cars
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