Good Oil: Return of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution?
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Once upon a time it might have seemed that the idea of a reborn Toyota Supra would never actually happen. Now that that particular performance legend has been regenerated anew, attention turns to what other storied Japanese nameplates from the past might possibly make a comeback.
With Mazda remaining tight-lipped about whether a rotary-hybrid powered son-of-RX-8 might ever come to fruition (all bets are off at present, but give it a week), and Subaru having never taken its worthy WRX models off the menu, the focus surely falls on Mitsubishi. In particular, the less-is-more Lancer Evolution.
The legendary Evo was a victim of Mitsubishi’s wider financial woes in the turbulence following the Global Financial Crisis. With the death of the Evo, Mitsubishi formally nailed its cleaner/greener standard to the flagpole, vowing never again to dabble in such irresponsible foolishness as a massive World Rally Championship-winning legend of motorsport (and absolute tuner’s delight).
Now, however, attitudes within Mitsubishi Motor Corporation might have changed a tad.
UK motoring publication Autocar suggests the Japanese manufacturer – now feeling flusher with a bit of Renault-Nissan Alliance cash in the coffers – might soon bring back its famous Lancer Evolution sub-model.
Autocar says its top-secret source believes the all-new Evo for the 2020s could share Renault and Nissan’s scalable (and catchily-titled) CMF-C/D F4 platform, along with drivetrain components from the latest Renault Megane RS hot-hatch. The car might even be a mild hybrid, offering up the potential for 220-plus kilowatts peak power.
The magazine’s unnamed source (again: this is all speculative, but there’s nothing like ‘unnamed source’ to get everyone fizzing) goes so far as to suggest that a reborn Evo would still offer a manual transmission option and the manufacturer’s own S-AWC four-wheel-drive system.
It all sounds rather good. Although, even if a new Evo was to eventuate soon, we’ve hardly been starved for too long. The Evo X only disappeared from the production lines three or four years ago; by contrast Toyota’s new Supra represents the first of its type to go on sale in 17 years.
A BMW pick-up? Ute better believe it (this time)
BMW is quite fond of a good arm-pulling “Ja ja, ve made a utility!” rib-tickler. But this time, rather than it being some April Fool’s Day-ish prank, they really have made one. Well, a group of apprentices have anyway.
Even more interesting, this new pick-up concept is based on, of all things, the manufacturer’s shiniest new bauble in the basket: the uber-posh X7 luxury SUV.
Designed as a bit of a celebration piece for BMW’s annual Motorrad (‘Motorcycle’) Days event, the truck has been carefully crafted over the last 10 months by a team of 12 apprentices. As the piccies suggest, the X7 ute has been built with bikes in mind; adjustable suspension lets the whole thing ‘sit down’ on its behind in order to load a BMW F 850 GS Touring bike into its teak and carbon-fibre lined tray more easily.
With the super-expensive X7 as a base for the concept, you’d be forgiven for thinking these blimmin’ apprentices must have all the resources in the world. Truth is, the donor SUV was actually a development prototype that, after testing, was destined for the crusher. In stepped BMW’s in-house engineering department to save it from that fate and instead kit it out with bespoke grab handles and tie-down points.
Under the bonnet remains the X7’s 3.0-litre straight six petrol. In fact, rear-end aside, there isn’t much that has been touched by the customiser’s stylus otherwise. The roof and rear doors needed to be reinforced because of the distinct lack of sheet metal beyond the c-pillar, but overall the vehicle is around 200kg lighter than the standard X7 SUV.
But no, you won’t be seeing any weekend warriors turning up for a blat on their two-wheeled Beemers at Woodhill Forest in this thing anytime soon; despite the X7 ute being a fully functional vehicle, rather unsurprisingly BMW has no plans to put it into production.
Bentley’s all-new tweedy burr
So much for ‘New’ Bentley shedding its image of a dusty old brand for tweedy older gentlemen; this latest bespoke edition line-up from the peerless carmaker doubles down on the cross-hatch style.
Partnering with Savile Row tailor, Huntsman, Bentley has released a Bentayga Huntsman edition (which, we presume wouldn’t go down overly well as a marketing ploy in Australia).
Designed to mark the 100th anniversaries of both the Crewe-headquartered car brand and the London tailor, the Bentayga Huntsman is a POA-only offering boasting plenty of highly detailed trim accents.
Door panels and seat backs have been finished in Huntsman’s “Peck 62” tweed, which has been especially created to celebrate the tailor’s centenary. The inner door panels and front seat map pockets are also overlaid with a carbon fibre veneer.
In the rear – and perhaps placing ultimate faith in the Bentley SUV’s compliant ride comfort – the back seats are bisected by a Mulliner-designed wooden chessboard. No, this really isn’t the stuff of adrenaline-fueled Pikes Peak speed records is it?
But would-be owners can drill down even deeper, opting for either a ‘Sportsman’ or ‘Businessman’ flavouring to their limited-edition SUV, giving them a choice of either a Candy Red or two-tone Anthracite paint finish respectively for the bodywork. No word from either party on whether any female motorists are expected through the door…
All Bentayga Huntsman purchasers will also receive a tailored Huntsman jacket featuring cloth of their choosing. So, there’s that; better than a branded cap and drink bottle set from the dealer principal, we suppose.
Debut of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution
1 STATION WAGON
Mitsubishi offered the Lancer Evolution IX as a GT and GT-A wagon in the domestic market
1 POLICE FLEET
The 2010 Lancer Evolution MR-Touring was used as a Police vehicle in the UK
The Lancer Evolution VII was the final version to only utilise a five-speed manual gearbox