EVO BUYING ADVICE
So you want one eh ? Arguably the fastest real-world, all-weather car ever. Does everything from Sainsburys to the Craner curves and with a just a modest amount of tuning will out accelerate a Ferrari 355 ! Thing is, its a highly specialised car, many are originally from Japan and there's plenty of wrong-uns and abused examples out there so you'll need to be armed with stacks of advice and information when choosing one.
far as I am aware, nothing like this yet exists on the web (apart from
trawling through newsgroups and BBS's) . What to look for, what to buy,
what to avoid. Some of the stuff here is tried and tested fact and some
is opinion, either my own or that of other people. Most of it however,
is consolidated information that has been proven time and time again
by EVO owners.
The EVO6 comes in various guises. Most commo is the GSR spec which has ABS, Active Yaw Control, Climate Control, Electric windows & mirrors. Then there are the more focused special versions, the RSX, the RS, RS-2, Sprint, Zero Fighter, Extreme & the mad RS450. Versions like the RS-2 and zero fighter are Japanese cars and generally not available. The RSX, Extreme and RS450 are limited edition Ralliart specials that were supplied in the UK. The 340bhp Extreme is a gorgeous looking car but was very very expensive for its modest power increase and the RS450 was pure barmy (but not 450bhp as its name may suggest). Finally there is the TME, or Mäkinen edition which primarily included a titanium turbocharger, quick steering rack, lower ride height and slightly different body (front spoiler). There is also a Mäkinen RS but I won't cover that.
Here we'll talk about the GSR, Mäkinen & RSX as they are the most likely purchases.
The very first thing to consider is whether you want to buy a car originally imported from Japan or a UK Ralliart car. Whilst they all originally came from the very same production line there are logistical advantages and disadvantages to both:
Ralliart cars are
more expensive (even on the secondhand market) but you get the "peace
of mind" of U.K. Ralliart warranty (given that the car you are
buying is less than 3 years old). Some Mitsubishi dealers will only
honour Ralliart warranties but to complicate matters further, if you
modify the car in any way shape or form its quite probable that this
will invalidate the warranty. There is one rule to this and that's if
you have the actual Ralliart stage 1 conversion carried out by Ralliart
themselves but again, depending on the age of your car this might also
invalidate the warranty. Best speak to Ralliart direct for the full
My own feelings are that a saving of 1-2 thousand pounds is more than enough to justify getting a good grey import and possibly using a small bit of what you save to buy a decent warranty. Sure, you may get less when you come to sell it but then the less money you have tied up in a car the better surely ? One thing though... whatever you get make sure you do get a Warranty and ensue that its either a Ralliart one or one that is reputable, tried and tested. (Avoid Warranty Holdings at all costs).
Most people will be looking for a GSR. This is fast and hardcore enough for most tastes whilst the ride quality and fuel economy is still just sensible enough to allow the car to be used as everyday and family transport. I would advise everyone though to try to test drive a Mäkinen edition as well. In my opinion the weakest point of the EVO is the steering. The responsiveness is great and the turn-in super sharp but its the feedback that lets it down a little. Its not completely devoid of feel and surely a lot better than something like an impreza or an M3 and as far as 4wd goes (Integrale notwithstanding) its pretty good but it could be improved upon.
The good news is that the Mäkinen (and the RS, RSX, RS sprint for that matter) has the mods to improve the feel, namely the quicker steering rack (2.2 turns lock to lock as opposed to the GSR's 2.6). Also the car is lowered somewhat so whilst ride quality is the same, the steering is markedly improved. In addition the Mäkinen also has the Titanium turbocharger so you get a little bit more power lower down..... noticeable and well worth it. I would seriously recommend that you test drive a TME in addition to the GSR - bear in mind that changing the GSR to a quicker rack is not cost effective.
If you are after something specifically for trackdays and less of a road car then consider the RSX (or the RS/RS2 if you can find one). The RSX may still be hard to find but essentially its stripped out slightly, no climate control, quicker rack, closer ratio gearbox, no Active Yaw Control and no anti lock. This is a cheaper, faster and keener machine and some prefer the EVO without AYC which will adjust torque distribution to theleft & right rear wheels to correct any detected oversteer or understeer. Purists say it interferes with on the limit driving and oversteer action is more readily available without it.
As a final word, don't let the existence of the RS, RSX, EXTREME etc.. put you off the GSR or Mäkinen or make you think that they're too soft. I would like to suggest that the GSR or TME will likely be more than enough - easily as quick and harder edged than any Subaru and compared to 99.99% of cars out there its a completely manic ride, ludicrously quick in real world terms and indestructibly secure. Also, plenty good enough for trackdays... just not quite as bonkers !
WHAT YOU'RE LETTING YOURSELF IN FOR
Get an insurance quote FIRST! You may find that you either cannot insure it or the cost is prohibitive. Grouping is top (20) or maybe more with extra loading for Japanese cars with some companies. It may be that you will have to budget for a tracker and a Thatcham 1 alarm so you'll want to know this in advance.
EVOs have to be serviced every 4500 miles and have to be serviced by a Mitsubishi dealer who has MUT11 equipment to service the AYC. At 180-250 pounds for a service (£580 for 45000 miles service). This can obviously get quite costly and many cars have been in the hands of people who found out they couldn't afford to run the thing AFTER they got the car so be on the look out. If you intend to easily sell your car on you will need to stick to the service schedule and go to a proper Mitsi Ralliart dealer.
Fuel economy is pretty good for the performance you get and certainly better than something like a 5 litre TVR or an esprit Turbo but its still around the low 20's. Hard driving will see this dip into the high teens, track driving and you're maybe down below 10mpg. Also, the car MUST run on super unleaded (97 RON). Do your figures.... if you are planning on 20K miles a year that's at least 4 services a year, lots of super unleaded and quite possibly the biggest insurance premium you've ever had to pay.
As previously stated, you would be well advised to get a car with a reputable warranty. A Japanese import car from a dealer or from a private sale may well have some warranty left and the same goes for a UK car. If you are buying from a respectable car dealer he will also be able to supply a decent warranty to cover you for at least 12 months. EVO's are not particularly unreliable but unless you have money to burn it makes sense to get some piece of mind just in case something does go amiss. EVOs are obviously very high performance motors and many have been driven with this in mind so things can and do go wrong.
The first and most important thing to look for is a FULL service history. Any owner worth negotiating with will have taken the trouble to stamp his service record book .... this is a MUST. The car must have a service for every 4500 miles it has covered and also a 1000 miles running in service. Bear in mind that if the car has covered less than 4500 miles over a 12 month period then it also must have a service for the annual period. When I purchased my car at 7000 miles it was 2 years old so had had a 1K, 4500K and 2 year service. If the car you are interested in is missing any services and also does not have proper paperwork for any work carried out then WALK - the used market is not exactly skinny so you can simply go elsewhere and find better.
Still on the servicing, bear in mind that the EVO is not a car that can be serviced in any back street workshop. The servicing of the Active Yaw Control requires specialist Mitsubishi Diagnostic equipment (MUT-II) which only proper Mitsubishi Ralliart dealers possess so make sure that the cars history is with a well known Mitsi garage. Some owners have their cars looked after by individual specialist (e.g. WRC) mechanics and whilst this can be a good idea from the point of view of better care for your car, it doesn't do much for your own piece of mind when buying.
There is a slight exception to this rule though. Its true to say that many Mitsi dealers haven't got the expertise with EVOs that many owners would like so cars often just have their servicing done at a Mitsi dealer for the kudos of the stamp and any other proper work carried out by a well known specialist such as Dragon Autosport, MADevelopments, Steve Hill Motorsport. Also a specialist such as these may have taken care of the servicing as well. In this instance its more than likely that the owner knows his stuff and wanted the best possible attention to the car but ultimately you should use your judgment regarding the owner and make enquiries where necessary.
If the car was originally imported into the UK from Japan then firstly you must see the SVA certificate (looks like an MOT certificate) that ensures that the car was properly type approved for the UK. Check that the car was declared NEW in the UK and was not bought used from Japan. In addition it should have the following modifications and you should ensure that these have been correctly carried out:
Of course, do the normal V5 checks and inspect any paperwork relating to the supplying dealer. It may be an idea to contact previous owners or the original importer and get them to clarify the car's history. Finally, don't forget to HPI the car as per usual.
You should carry out a normal mechanical check on the car as with any secondhand purchase. If you are not confident in your mechanical skills then take something along with you. Remember that a car from a dealer could possibly hide a history a lot easier than a private individual. Check tyres and pedals etc.. for wear and ensure that the age that the car looks matches its history. Try to estimate how hard a life the car has had as you would with any secondhand vehicle.
On your test drive you should also try to check the following points that have been compiled by EVO owners as being potential EVO weaknesses or common problems:
1. Front discs warped
(very common). Brake hard from highish speed and feel for vibration
through the steering wheel (warn whoever is in the car that you are
going to do this!). Warped discs is not only a sign of heavy trackday
use but it will also set you back a few quid to put right.
3. Uneven tyre wear suggesting suspension incorrectly setup or faulty/damaged.
4. Suspension clonks/grating from the rear at low speed and full lock mean the AYC is faulty.
5. When test driving and the car has warmed up select third and floor it from 2000rpm to about 5500rpm, it should accelerate smoothly. If you get a jerk or bad hesitation at roughly 4000rpm-4500rpm then this is a fuel cut due to detected overboost. This can be due to several reasons but it needs to be corrected.
6. Try and verify that the car has been run on super-unleaded ONLY. 95 RON will damage an EVO !
There seems to be a lot of confusion about this one so a dedicated paragraph here. The EVO ecu, whether Japanese or Ralliart UK supplied, is designed to run on a higher fuel grade than available in the UK. Regular grade in Japan is 100RON with reports of up to 108RON actually being available. The ecu WILL run on UK super-unleaded 97RON without a remap but standard unleaded 95RON can cause detonation damage to the engine if used for long periods.
The conclusion -
well firstly if you buy a car that has actually been used in Japan with
higher fuel gardes then it might be an idea to reset the ecu by diconnecting
the battery for 30 seconds. For a car that was new in eth UK or ralliart
supplied try to ensure that it has been used with Super Unleaded. Don't
ask the vendor if he's used SUL, rather, ask him what fuel he has used
to test if he really is aware of this. When you get your EVO, run it
on SUL yourself. If you're ever stuck and can't find any out there then
fill with a fivers worth of 95 and hunt for a proper filling station.
Its generally accepted that the use of 95RON with octane boosters is
also NOT a good idea.
Debate rages on this one but you must decide for yourself whether you are comfortable buying a modified car or not. Remember that modified cars may not have had work carried out properly (a botch job modification in other words of which there are many) so try and authenticate any work done and trace it back to the supplier. Although you get lots of goodies at little extra cost, a modified car may mean that its more likely to have been driven very hard. If you do choose to buy a non-standard EVO, do try and get all the original bits - you may need them later for an MOT.
One sensible route to follow is to find a car that has had the Ralliart Stage 1 conversion. This ups the power to about 330/340bhp, lowers the car a little to give sharper steering and also makes the thing sound quite a bit better. There's a chance that any remaining Ralliart warranty that's on the car may still be valid.
For many, EVO ownership is as much about continual modifying as anything else, its all part of the fun so perhaps the very best option is to get yourself a totally standard car, a clean slate as it were. Chances are the stock ~300bhp will take a fair bit of getting used to and then you can think about changing things and upping power.
AFTER YOU'VE BOUGHT
Good luck. Once you get your EVO you won't be disappointed. Remember to always fill it with Super, get yourself a good set of technical manuals and bear in mind some of the above stuff for your own EVO maintenance. e.g. get it serviced & stamped at a Ralliart Mitsi dealer and then any work or mods carried out by a well known EVO specialist who may well know quite a lot more.
Don't forget to join the Mitsubishi Lancer Turbo Register (http://www.lancerregister.com/). Here you can find a lively community of EVO owners and get any further questions answered by people with stacks of knowledge. You are welcome to mail me at the link given below but please bear in mind that I am not and do not consider myself to be an EVO technical expert - I just created something that seemed to be completely non-existent on the WWW. Have fun.
massive amount of
EVO links here
your feedback is welcome - please mail me.