2008 Mitsubishi Evolution X GSR - Project Evolution

The Ultimate Dual-Purpose Performance Sedan.

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My '08 Mitsubishi Evolution X GSR has been in our project car fleet for a little less than a year now and has served as my daily driver for the majority of that time. I must say that driving the car stock was a pleasurable experience because it's pretty damn good from the factory, but with the choice mods that have been performed, I now know firsthand why Evolutions are most likely the best cars to mod on the planet.

Show me another vehicle where you can raise the boost, throw an intake, reflash and exhaust on and instantly make an extra 100 whp reliably - and I stress the word "reliably." Our EVO has been boosting 27 psi on California's piss-poor pump gas (91 octane) making 340 whp and 348 ft-lbs of torque without any complaints. The mods making that output a reality include an AMS intercooler and piping, an AEM intake, a COBB Tuning downpipe and high-flow cat, a Tomei exhaust and an RRE ECU tune. The difference in acceleration is staggering from stock. In fact, it's so good that I'm content sticking with the stock turbo, and that's almost the problem. With so few engine modifications and such a good power output, the need to modify the car's engine further is all but gone, especially when you want to run pump gas only.

Mitsubishi's latest generation AWD system is just as capable as its engine; however, it's very easy to go wrong when modifying it. Use improper parts and, all of a sudden, the sharp, nimble handling characteristics of the X fall off dramatically. If you remember, last month I upgraded the suspension system with a set of Toda Fightex coilovers and a Whiteline bumpsteer kit. The setup was remarkably civil and compliant on the rough roads of LA, but the true test was going to be on the track, where numbers, not a butt dyno, would determine just how much better the suspension was. There was one issue, though. The X was now riding on stylish 19-inch Volk CE28Ns. While great for the street, 19s are just too big for the track. I needed some 18-inch wheels with proper rubber to handle the rigors of track duty.

I turned to Volk again - this time I bought a set of used RE30 wheels from Super Lap Battle coordinator Elliott Moran. He was parting his EVO X out and I couldn't pass up a good deal. With the 18x10.5-inch +25 bronze RE30s in hand, I set off to find the right tire to match the wide wheels. At about the same time I bought the wheels, Falken Tire had just launched its latest tire, the RT615-K. Almost identical in looks to the older RT-615 that we've all come to love, the new 615-K offers an improved stickier tread compound and an even greater reduction in tread squirm, making it a stellar choice for a track tire that you can also drive daily on the street.

My preliminary test session at Buttonwillow Raceway was on a stock suspension with stock tires, so I wanted to be fair and first run the Toda coilovers with the stock wheel and tire setup to see what improvements the suspension alone would yield. The difference was immediately noticeable; I could easily carry more speed through the corners and the car settled down much better as opposed to the roll it exhibited stock, but the OEM Yokohama A13C tires were at their limits and just couldn't provide the grip the EVO X now needed. Even with the handling handicap, I was able to run a 2:05.2 compared to the 2:07.4 on a stock suspension. That's a 2.2-second improvement from the Toda Fightex coilovers alone. As I mentioned in my previous tech article, the Fightex suspension has changed my perspective on coilovers. Not only have they proven themselves on the track, but they're incredibly smooth on the street - a combination I didn't think was possible.

With the overheated and spent Yokohamas off the car, it was time to see what the 275/35R18 Falken RT-615K tires could do. Talk about a night-and-day difference. The 615K's large tread blocks handled the corners with ease, providing ample amounts of grip to really get the EVO turned in and pointed in the right direction for fast corner exit. The grip the 615Ks provide is what you would expect from a R-compound tire, not a street tire with a 200 tread-wear rating. Only after repeated hard laps did the RT615s start to show signs of fading, but considering the EVO's heavy demeanor, it's to be expected. Hands down, the 615K ranks right up there with the best all-out performance street tires on the market.

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