Can you imagine a world without the GT-R? Or perhaps a world without an STi Impreza? No, neither can I… but Mitsubishi suits and corporate management got the bright idea that the world didn’t need or want a Lancer Evolution either and so, I am sad to say that, with immediate effect, we all have to sit and watch as a beloved moniker goes from being a “King of the rally stages” to a “Queen of the kitchen”… The Lan-Evo is dead and it’s official…
It’s really just a sign of the times. We are heading toward more appliances and less machinery that stirs and provokes the soul. Mitsubishi officially blames environmental concerns and government regulation. I call bullshit. Tell that to your fiercest rival, Subaru.
I blame corporate management – or a lack thereof. Demand for the Evo is still strong in many markets and the Evo brand itself is what I consider to be a pillar for the entire companies global image. The Lancer Evolution series is what drew millions to the brand through their exploits in rallying; their fierce rivalry with Subaru the stuff of folklore and legend. It was entirely because of this that I even noticed or respected Mitsubishi at all. Yes, there were other great cars that came in through the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s; namely the Starion, GTO and Galant but the Evolution Lancer was greater than the sum of them all in terms of global appeal.
Indeed, the WRC title tally tilts in Mitsubishi’s favor against Subaru even now, 4 to 3, if you take into account drivers plaques. Sadly, it has been ELEVEN long years since a Japanese manufacturer won the prestigious event back in 2003 with Solberg in an Impreza and a hardly fathomable FIFTEEN years since the last Mitsubishi title with Makinnen in an Evo VI… a car considered among a great many enthusiasts to be the last great Evo produced.
What is going on here, I wonder? Why has Mitsubishi decided to castrate itself from the very platform that has helped it gain international respect, love and accolade over the course of more than a decade? The entire “Ralli Art” sub brand, that was as much akin to Mitsubishi enthusiasts as Nismo, STi or Mugen are to other manufacturers, is now as good as dead and with it any chance of appeal.
It’s unconscionable to think that Mitsubishi could be so stupid. Mitsubishi are run by suits and suits care about one thing and one thing only; the bottom line. Halo brands are superfluous, unnecessary and deemed fit for the chopping block if need be. Legends can indeed be killed, depending on who you ask at the “Three Diamonds”…
The Lan-Evo is a classic example. This decision by Mitsubishi management has caused fans, enthusiasts and tuners around the world to throw up their hands in disbelief at what appears to be a knee-jerk reaction.
But it has been a long time coming… and yet it is still, nevertheless, heartless and poorly considered. Mitsubishi believes the future exists in appliances. In machines that you switch on and switch off. They think there is no future in the heritage they created and by dumping the Lan-Evo, they are basically telling enthusiasts that we aren’t important to their future. I find absolutely nothing in the entire Mitsubishi range to be of even remote interest save their off-road and performance vehicles like the Evo X, which is set to be given the axe next year in North America, anyways.
It’s a classic bait and switch tactic that has worked really well for companies like Facebook in similar circumstances. Namely, in getting people passionate enough about their brand through some endeavor, marketing ploy or well oiled speech and this, in turn, endears you to them. You work toward building an affinity with these sweet talkers and, once they have benefitted, like the professional suits they are, they turn around and put a bullet in the back of your head.
Mitsubishi are not a company loyal to enthusiasts. They want to sell appliances and they want to sell as many as they can. They don’t care about passion, history or legacy – their suits care about nothing but sales only and Lan-Evo’s don’t matter any more because they don’t sell as well as a push button, plug-in hybrid piece of shit. Mitsubishi have lost their “soul” at the expense of their bean counters.
The entire legacy of the Lan-Evo has virtually been forsaken at the stroke of a pen. “To hell with it!”, they say, over what they created in the hearts and minds of millions of motoring and motorsport enthusiasts around the world. They think you and I need something small and ugly that we can plug in to a wall socket to carry our groceries from the shopping center and home again. Something that will fit in with their corporate agenda in an urban lifestyle where parking and emissions are an issue.
We’ve been tricked into complacency. And it’s incomprehensible that it has been allowed to happen by anyone with a conscience inside Mitsubishi. Akio Toyoda had the balls to stand up to the suits and say that Toyota needed the 86… and the LF-A… and now a raft of other performance cars coming in future years. He was right and the suits were wrong. Look at the sales – The 86 and BRZ are two of the world’s hottest selling two door sports cars currently.
All this bullshit talk about a “Hybrid Lan-Evo” this and “Hybrid/Electric Lan Evo” that, would have been nice if there was some sort of substance behind it but it was all just a load of hot air. Nothing but tabloid fodder for lesser journalists with nothing better to dribble bullshit over.
Some brands in Japan and around the world matter to automotive enthusiasts at a sub-nuclear level and are supported by and fostered within huge communities of tuners, users and specialists. The GT-R, again, is a classic example. The STi badge on an Impreza is another. A “Type R” or “Mugen” badge on a Honda another again. TRD anyone?
They are icons for tuners and brands that have taken time to build. Axing the Lan-Evo is like Mitsubishi taking out one of the main pillars supporting the already leaning Tower of Pisa. It’s unfathomable and will come back to haunt Mitsubishi, perhaps not now, but in the near future. Here’s a novel idea Mitsubishi… how about you stop wasting the ridiculous amounts of money on that pathetic excuse of an Outlander plug in hybrid and put some of it into the next Evo? What is it now… the third already? Not even Arnold Schwarzenegger needed more than one “Total Recall“.
The company is actually doing alright financially, so this makes a ridiculous decision incredibly hard to accept – as if chopping off your own nose just to spite your face isn’t tantamount to brand hari-kiri. So, say goodbye to the legendary Evo and say hello to Mitsubishi’s Utopian ideal where everyone gets to drive around in listless and vapid electrical appliances to and from work and everywhere else in-between… Oh, the joy! I’m so looking forward to driving my blender to work tomorrow!! Thank you Mitsubishi!!
See you later Lan-Evo… it’s been an absolute pleasure watching you destroy the toughest terrain on the planet with the best drivers at your helm. You will be deeply missed… but never forgotten by those who matter… And to those who harp on about Mitsubishi singing the corporate tune of a new hybrid/electric AWD platform to replace the Evo, let me tell you that if it isn’t an Evo, with a proper turbocharged, fuel injected 4 cylinder platform to take the fight to Subaru, as the picture above suggests, we really don’t give a “flying” fuck.
Words – Adam Zillin
7Tune – The Ultimate Automotive Experience Since 2005