Lancer Evolution TMR Club Spec

TMR digs deep and taps the Evo X’s inner monster

If the X is an attempt at a family-friendly Evo, a mix of daily driveability and red-mist performance, then it succeeds ... to a degree.

But it’s still a bit harsh to be called comfortable, and a bit soft to be called genuinely hardcore.

The new TMR Club Spec goes a long way in addressing the latter.

Few understand Evo-fettling like Team Mitsubishi Ralliart, and its new Club Spec package serves up track-friendly purpose for weekend warriors and those fancy tarmac rallies alike.

Agenda one is power, which has climbed from a standard 217kW to a claimed 270kW at 6500rpm, a massive 24-percent increase. More tangibly beneficial, though, is the 35-percent hike in torque, from 366Nm to just shy of 490Nm.

It’s immensely useable, too, with the bulk of the urge arriving at 1800rpm, and creates a higher, flatter curve, without the stock 4B11 engine’s drop-off at the top end.

This bonus arrives courtesy of an ECU-fiddle that alters the variable cam positioning, and changes the spark and fuel mapping. Maximum boost is increased to 1.7bar, coming on earlier and holding on longer across the rev range.

The exhaust is modified via altering the internal flap set-up in the rear mufflers for higher flow, though its note remains muted. There’s also a milder 245kW package available but, as it shares the same degree of modification, would you really bother?

The grunt gain applies to both the twin-clutch SST and the five-speed manual models. Either transmission, it seems, will happily cop the torque loads. The twin-clutch version, as tested, also features modified shift programming via the ECU to suit the Club Spec’s newfound outputs.

Tooling around in traffic, there’s little discernable difference from the basic Evolution in terms of stop-start tractability. But suspension-wise, it’s all good news.

The new 25-percent firmer, progressive-rate spring rates don’t translate to additional harshness. There’s acceptable, if taut, ride quality and its street manners remain.

The standard dampers are retained, while the coils lower the ride by 30mm (front) and 25mm (rear), and feel just like the base-spec gear until you start leaning on them hard in the curves. There’s less body-roll and tighter body control, too, which is nice.

But instantly noticeable is the directness of the steering, with the re-fettled front providing a crisper feel.

Punted along some of the Classic Adelaide rally’s road stages, the whole shebang transforms. Initial bite is pin sharp, even by Evo standards, and remains so all the way through any corner. It can hold more cornering speed and offers much-improved feel and feedback.

Severe mid-corner bumps manage to throw the front off-line a fraction, but the rear maintains its tenacious composure. The added grip and cornering purpose allows you to get the extra neddies to the floor. It’s now explosive exiting a corner – the rear squats and launches beyond the apex with formidable brutality.

Debate still rages over whether the five-speed or SST is better for competition. But unless you’re a pro racer, the SST will produce a quicker result, particularly on downshifting when diving deep into hairpins (where it doesn’t unsettle the chassis) or when ripping mid-corner upchanges (ditto).

TMR reckons that provided fluids are maintained regularly, the twin-clutch system will cop competition flogging.

The TMR Club-Spec fills the weekday/track-day niche nicely. And in a road-registrable form. As a race car, it works and, equally, it’s better and faster than a stocker in enthusiasts’ hands.

TMR boss Alan Heaphy reckons the majority of customers will opt for the SST version.

Inside, a CAMS approved bolt-in cage is included – eligible for events including Targa Tasmania and the like – and six-point harnesses are installed, requiring a small mod to the Recaros to allow for the crotch belts.

Mounted on the floor is a pair of fire extinguishers.Other modifications available include competition brake pads (which squeal like pigs), the removal of the front rotor backing plates, and R-Spec Dunlops.

The Club-Spec package adds about $15K to the base car’s price – a sizeable $85,875 as tested. Or you can opt for individual components: the 270kW/490Nm engine upgrade with springs, for example, is just $4300 plus fitment, which is as cheap as chips.

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