Street Legal Rally Cars
Take the Evo IX for a Ride
Fans of the World Rally Championship and/or racing video games like Dirt probably have a soft spot in their hearts for the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, a car that represents the closest thing you can buy to an actual rally car like the WRC05. For that matter, any fans of the Fast and Furious series of films probably enjoy the Evo as well, even if only for nostalgic or aesthetic reasons. If you don't recall the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VII is Brian O'Connor (Paul Walker)'s car in 2 Fast 2 Furious, while the Lancer Evo IX, which we are discussing in more detail with this article, appears in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.
So if you are thinking about getting an Evo IX, you are probably wondering how it compares to the real rally deal, the contemporary Lancer WRC05. Read on and see what the comparisons are in the categories of engine, drivetrain, tires, chassis, and perhaps most importantly, price.
Horse-power and Torque
The Lancer Evo IX has a 16-valve, 2.0-liter, dual overhead cams (DOHC, which are capable of producing more power and running at higher speeds) on an inline-4 engine, plus this baby is turbocharged with a maximum 286 horsepower and 289 pound-feet of torque. And even though there are technically four versions of the Evo IX for the American market, all of them are the same in power. However, the Evo RS is 80 pounds lighter than the other models.
Comparatively the WRC05 has the same engine as the Evo IX, but it also has a bigger turbocharger. It has considerably more torque at 398 pound-feet of torque and 295 horsepower.
The street version of the Evolution features a button that allows the driver to select different driving terrain modes, from Tarmac, Snow, or Gravel. The on-board computer uses this selection to manipulate torque delivery from the front to the back. This feature also helps to aid the Evo in maintaining a more stable stance and better steering response when you are driving faster than 90 mph. The Evo IX has been tested extensively on practice tracks featuring 45-degree banks, and it has proven it has reliable helm control and responsive throttle, with plenty of power even past 3000 rpm.
Then we have the WRC05, which has the same reliability in helm control and throttle, but also takes the Evo's system to the next level, with front and rear differentials tailoring power delivery to the left and right side wheels as the traction of the road varies.
Aluminum Vs. Magnesium
In the category of tires and wheels, the stock Evo IX uses 17-inch BBS one-piece forged Enkei aluminum wheels, which are 3.3 pounds lighter than previous versions. These wheels feature high-performance Yokohama Advan tires. United States import versions of the Lancer Evolution keep a four-wheel drive without using the Japanese-style active-yaw differentials.
And for the WRC05? The rally car version of the Lancer uses 18-inch cast-magnesium wheels from Enkei, wearing Pirelli rally tires varied for each different type of road surface this car encounters.
You could consider the 3,200-pound Evo IX to be lightweight, but that's just until you find out that the WRC05 is a mere 2,711 pounds. Where does the difference come from between these two automobiles?
With the Evolution, materials used include lightweight aluminum front fenders and roof panel, a vented hood and huge (functional) rear wing. Inside the car you will find aluminum pedals and a faux-carbon-fiber panel. Pseudo-suede center panels feature a border of leather bolsters. Or you could even spring for all-leather seats. It may not be the ultimate in comfort, but it is definitely nice. And for those looking to upgrade to even more luxury, the Sun, Sound and Leather package features an added power sunroof, HID xenon headlamps with integrated fog lights. The stereo unit in that package is also more impressive, with a head unit in the dash (but no integral amplifier), higher quality speakers in the front doors, a 4.1-channel amplifier under the driver's seat, and a powered, trunk-mounted Infinity subwoofer. It also features black leather seats with center armrests, and leather-trimmed door panels. On the outside, the front bumper fights aerodynamic lift with a chin spoiler to increase the low-pressure zone under the nose. And in the back, the carbon-fiber airfoil has a Gurney flap, a wing extension meant to increase downforce to the rear.
As for the rally version, it has a full roll cage and fire-suppression systems, but has completely cut out any extra perks of driving, such as air conditioning, sound-deadening material in the frame, and a back seat. It does not even have a radio! Even if it was street legal, you would probably go with the Evolution over the rally car because of all the extra amenities, horsepower or no.
What is it Going to Cost?
A fully-loaded Evolution IX is going to cost north of $35,000, even today. An earlier version of the car, the Evo VII, was sold for close to $40,000 fairly recently. But if you are looking for just a normal Lancer, without all of the aftermarket add-ons and power behind the Evo IX, you can probably pick one up in great condition for $26,000 to $30,000. It truly is an affordable performance car.
As for the World Rally Car? Well, that is a tad more expensive, running a price-tag north of $800,000 just to prepare for competition, and another $1.6 million to get it through all 16 races of a WRC season. That is some serious change.
Fast and Furious
See It In Action
If you are unconvinced of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX's street cred, it may be that you still need to see it in action. If that is the case, take a look at the following video featuring a gorgeous version of the Evo. Then it will probably be clear that despite sacrifices to horsepower compared to a racing vehicle, the street-legal version of the Lancer Evolution is an impressive automobile that can be had at a decent price point.