Mitsubishi may not resonate with many people when it comes to cars, but the name “Evolution” might if you’re a fan of rallying or gaming or Vin Diesel movies.
The Mitsubishi e-Evolution Concept is the Japanese automaker’s vision of a high-performance crossover SUV that doesn’t sound too far-fetched. After all, there have been plenty of electrified SUVs, even from Mitsubishi: its Outlander PHEV is one of the most popular plug-in hybrids.
But the e-Evolution, shown Tuesday at the Tokyo Motor Show, marks the first time Mitsubishi has tried to make a performance vehicle using EV technology. To that end, it gets three electric motors, with two mounted at the rear of the vehicle to allow power to be split between those wheels for better handling through its four-wheel-drive system. (In theory, it’s similar to the system offered on the old Evo, but it’s electrified here.) The battery pack is also mounted in the middle of the car and under the floor, which Mitsubishi says improves the center of gravity.
Why the handling emphasis? Mitsubishi has to fill a hole in its lineup after the much-revered Lancer Evolution was dropped in 2015, amid the company’s financial troubles and dwindling car sales. Therefore, the e-Evolution SUV is the way Mitsubishi thinks it can attract enthusiasts again.
Among its other ideas, Mitsubishi wants to get in on the AI game. The company says the e-Evolution would use sensors to tailor the driver’s skill level to the road conditions ahead and set the car to perform accordingly. A “coaching function” is also designed to send relevant information to the driver, so the vehicle’s abilities in a given situation are made clear. Basically, Mitsubishi wants to build a performance vehicle that won’t rip your head off if you aren’t a racing driver.
For a small automaker like Mitsubishi, all of this sounds like a dream to keep up with every other automaker’s electric and AI promises. But now that the company is part of the Renault-Nissan team and will be instrumental in electrification efforts, some of the tech previewed on the e-Evolution could start to appear in production Renaults, Nissans, and Mitsubishis in the next few years.
The old Lancer Evolution is really, really dead. It’s time to get over that.