So the news is out, Mitsubishi is toying with the idea of bringing back the Lancer Evolution from the dead in a bid to revive its performance car legacy.
According to international reports, word is that it might be sharing the same powertrain with the next-generation Renault Megane RS which makes total commercial sense (as is the approach with most car companies in relation to cost) seeing as Mitsubishi, Renault and Nissan are all technically under one roof.
It’s definitely great news for the industry observers and enthusiasts but for now, there’s no point speculating on specifications as information has remained scarce.
The more pressing question is, does a car like that still have a place in Malaysia? Will we ever experience the same surge in JDM imports and a comeback of the local tuning scene that peaked in the early to mid-2000s?
Take the FK8 Honda Civic Type R for example; officially brought in by Honda Malaysia with a whopping price tag in excess of RM300k at launch for example, enthusiasts and keyboard warriors may have clogged the Internet with interests and criticisms but in reality, actual sales figures have not come close to the hype it has built.
Unlike that time when Honda Malaysia sold truck loads of the FD2R in the late 2000s, the huge wave has now turned into a mere spit. We get excited looking, reading, and watching videos of it, but how many of us would or rather can afford to shell out that kinda money for a car that looks like a 10-year old’s imagination?
What’s worse, a quick glance on Mudah.my or other online marketplaces shows a huge influx of parallel imports at much lower prices and yet, are all sitting idle in open yards all across Malaysia.
In other words, there are cheaper options but even the scum of the auto sales industry are struggling to offload them. The Toyota GT86 and Subaru BRZ is another such example – they’re all rotting away mechanically and in value.
And with most of the esteemed workshop and tuners in Sunway either closing shop or spending more time swatting flies than swapping engines, the near redundant tuner scene shows a severe lack of interest for a car such as the Lancer Evolution to make a return – whether through official channels or via the AP scums.
With the younger generation, millennials to be exact, showing more interests in spending thousands on a pair of shoes essentially made of cloth and styrofoam than on a set of sticky tyres just to go through corners faster, the idea of bringing the Evo back, to this country at least, seems futile.
Even if there are younger groups of enthusiasts, converting a normal Civic to look like a Type R seems to be the bigger priority than chasing performance itself.
And those who’re actually keen on making real power, are too small a minority to justify any significant shake up or revival of the forlone industry that once made everyone dream, including myself.
Unless there’s a massive turnaround in mindset, import structures, taxes and various other factors, importing these things in small numbers is the only way to go; sell them off on the point of exclusivity and nostalgia and call it a day.