First Mitsubishi came for the storied Eclipse nameplate, previously applied only to sports coupes, and slapped it onto a crossover. Now it has repurposed its iconic Evolution moniker and applied it to this e-Evolution crossover concept, appearing on the Mitsubishi stand at the 2017 Tokyo auto show.
It’s not as we couldn’t see this coming. Mitsubishi, desperate to turn around its falling fortunes, made clear it will leverage its better-known nameplates for a new generation of crossovers that it hopes will elevate sales. But the Evolution name—“Evo” for short—that used to be used only on the brand’s high-performance Lancer variants, the ones that battled with Subaru’s WRX STi to define fast for a generation of rallying enthusiasts? We’ll need time to acclimate to that one.
Anyway, the e-Evolution concept, despite its great name, is for the most part an average effort at a futuristic crossover. The powertrain is fully electric but only a mild step forward beyond last year’s GT PHEV plug-in hybrid crossover concept. Like that GT, this e-Evolution employs three electric motors, and they’re in the same layout: A single motor drives the front axle, and two individually spin each rear wheel. Those rear motors can rotate at different speeds to afford the e-Evo torque vectoring across its aft axle. A battery pack—its size unspecified—inhabits the floor between the front and rear axles to power it all.
On the upside, the e-Evolution is neater to behold than the boxy, uninteresting GT PHEV concept. Its profile appears to be almost triangular, with two slanted lines meeting at the roof’s peak between the first and second row of seats. The wheels are pushed out to the corners, and the body’s angularity blends well with Mitsubishi’s latest corporate face, which resembles an angry porcupine looking at its reflection in a shattered mirror. The tail looks almost French, which is to say it is distinctive and somewhat curious to behold.
For now Mitsubishi is declaring the e-Evolution a “technical prototype,” although we know the brand is keen on bringing a new Evolution-badged vehicle to market as a crossover. Whether it has full or partial electric motivation, look for the Evo identity to make its biggest evolutionary mutation yet.