Raymond Leung politely asked that I not mention his description of the Evo X as projecting a sharklike aesthetic. Well, he knows he is not alone. It has been a definite love/hate opinion of the revamped and always adorned--more so beforehand--Mitsubishi Evolution. After countless reviews of the older, more aggressive models we have all come to terms; the predecessor has its faults. Most should appreciate this transition as an awkward growing phase that follows suit of where the Japanese muscle inevitably has to go.
When Raymond was finally in the market for his first car, the Evo IX availability as a new purchase had lapsed. It would be unknown territory and an experiment to jump into either the Evo X or Subaru STI, but he would know that answer after Subaru's failure to impress. The STI had further emphasis on the complaints of refinement both new chassis received. As these cars evolve, they often are bashed for the grown-up and soft style that does, in fact, translate to a more disconnected sense of control. It isn't this way for reasons of performance lacking; it's simply the idea of technology assisting in your objective to hopefully go faster. In comparison to other makers, there is a certain pace of safety that needed to be met that Evos fell short of. Simply, it became a legal and moral demand of the consumer market alike that requires safety, design, and comfort all in one. Without straying too far from the subject, it's something I still find troubling to come to terms with myself. The days past of simplistic, raw, and hold-onto-your-pants traits of the nostalgic imports that paved the way for today's factory racers are long gone. Technology trumps what your mind and body thinks is best and takes the reins, but that's quite all right with most, so long as it turns a faster lap time.
Although the vehicle appears to have grown in exterior dimensional specifications, according to factory specifications, it hasn't veered far off from the previous generation. It has, however, gained some weight with the addition of five airbags and other structural safety changes. It does make up for the added weight with the U.S. introduction of Active Yaw Control, formally a Japanese and U.K.-only feature. This bit of genius mechanical technology is able to electronically distribute torque to give a near rear-wheel-drive reaction in throttle control. This accounts for a .99g lateral grip (200-foot skidpad) that ranks it near the top of the grippiest road cars ever. I believe it is a hint of what the car's future technologies and abilities can bring.
Raymond spent a year comprehending the vehicle in its entirety before he began tinkering on his daily driver. That's something to really respect in this hasty world of readily available automotive modifications. He referenced older builds that were simple, well thought out, and thoroughly diagnosed to determine what performance fields he felt needed a pick-me-up. Raymond spent many summer vacations in Hong Kong, where there was clearly a more open market for Japanese domestics. It exposed him to many of the machines the States didn't yet have. Raymond says, "Ever since the movie Legend of Speed (1999) that featured an Evo V racing a WRX, I fell in love with cars."
When it came time to getting down to business on the car, business was made. As you may be aware, Chicago is a great place to have an Evo and want to modify it. The guys down at Touge Factory Works are well known in the drift scene and all around for building finely tuned and fabricated cars. They were able to act as a coach to help guide the build in the right direction, as well as being able to utilize the Evo as a test mule of sort. Through the entire four-year build there has been no failure or issue with the modifications fitted to the car. Granted, the engine has not received much change from OEM. That mainly comes back to the original philosophy behind the build, but he also felt that the 4B11 is balanced enough out of the box. The twin-cam MIVEC now cranks out somewhere near 340 ponies and 370 lb-ft of torque with a few lightweight bolt-ons. Touge Factory fabbed a very trick dual canister, quad-tipped full titanium catback that drops an estimated 30-plus pounds from stock. Gruppe M is well known for over-the-top, but functional intake designs and the X's is no exception to this. The design encloses the filter like stock, but plumbs more refined airflow to a built-in velocity stack constructed completely out of carbon fiber. An upper intercooler pipe, again made with titanium, offers a bit more weight savings--another fine piece offered by Touge Factory. And finally a simple, but crucial bit of hardware keeps the factory turbo even more efficiently flowing via front-mount cooling provided by AMS.
Factory lines are dramatic, and aerodynamic additions to the body hint to those of Super GT and Le Mans racers. From the front bumper all the way to the boot, the car begs for more bulbous aero additions. Bulletproof Automotive is quite famed for their ability to source the newest and best parts Japanese tuners have to offer. When it came time to kick the exterior up a notch, Bulletproof was there. Raymond made it through a few rounds of exterior setups from Varis, but ultimately has settled on the Runduce collaboration. The front offers an FRP lip that adds a more flowing, but still sharp characteristic to the asphalt-eating front air dam from Varis. That is an important aspect to uphold for this owner, since he says the build was completed in hopes to add back some of the previous generation's sharper lines. To help cool the intake air temps and exhaust stale air from underhood, C-West provides one of the highest-quality carbon hoods on the market--truly a crucial piece in rounding out the front end. If the side decals didn't give it away, the car is fitted with a massive Esprit 052 carbon GT wing in the even more appalling track edition measuring in at 1,650mm wide! The final aerodynamic addition is the Varis rear diffuser in carbon that scavenges the last of the trapped warm air and looks pretty stunt. We don't believe we will ever get over-functional and nonfunctional uses of rear diffusers, you with us? Completing the last bits of performance-enhancing parts comes way of a prototype suspension type offered to Raymond from Touge Factory. The ISM Air Cup Coilover system replaced the proven and still great Stance coilover mated with Swift springs setup. The in-cabin height control assures the juiced-out specs of the Advan GT's are displayed properly. When track days roll around, a set of Gram Lights 57 Xtremes in Winning Blue are nutted down with Project Kics R40's.
The car is, and will continue to be, Raymond's commuter so he enjoys the added Bride Stradia in Kevlar. In fact, he claims that these seats are one of the best modifications on the car so far. The plan is to continue to modify single pieces of the car at a time in order to truly feel out an investment of quality at this level. Some power modifications are planned, but overall it is to continue enjoying what he purposely built the car to do and enjoy for many years to come. The chassis may see additions extreme as a welded-in rollcage, depending on how track oriented the car becomes in development. Raymond was able to gracefully mix the luxury, safety, and performance of a contemporary but legendary sports saloon. Although, he does foresee a bit of actual VIP tuning in the future, for now the plan is to continually develop the car and his on-track driving skills.