The EVO is a known commodity in the tuning world. It seems that wherever you look you see them; it also seems that spotting a stock EVO anymore is about as likely as spotting a flock of Ferrari Enzos. The EVO IX was the final evolutionary development of the superb, destined to become classic CT9A chassis, which also includes the IX's predecessors-the VII and VIII. The IX's defined by the changes its legendary 4G63 engine's undergone, bettering it year by year.

The 4G63 is known more for its rock solid strength than it is its technological superiority. Its stout iron block and DOHC valvetrain have become somewhat dated as this engine traces its ancestral roots back to the mid-1980s. But in its last year of production, Mitsubishi face-lifted the 4G63 with a bit of modern technology. The biggest difference in the IX's engine is MIVEC, Mitsubishi's variable cam timing system. MIVEC allows for 27 degrees of intake camshaft adjustment, which ultimately helps improve the 4G63's powerband. Intake camshaft timing is kept retarded at lower engine speeds, which results in reduced overlap, making for a smoother idle and improved emissions. Camshaft timing then increases alongside engine speed, making for improved torque and quicker turbo spool-up in the midrange. But at high-engine speeds timing is once again retarded in order to reduce backpressure-driven reversion to promote better breathing.

The new cylinder head features enlarged water jackets surrounding the combustion chambers making extended thread spark plugs mandatory. This improves combustion chamber cooling and reduces the chances of detonation. This makes for more aggressive tuning with our poor quality pump gas and means power output remains more consistent, an issue that plagued the EVO VIII. These changes help make the IX more responsive to tuning when compared to the older VIII resulting in fewer compromises throughout the powerband.

As Project EVO's been making its way toward racking up its first 1,000 miles, we've been itching to get into its engine. Before our initial dyno tests, we changed all of our fluids to Motul synthetics to help protect our investment. Engine oil consists of Motul's 300V 15W50 and the gear oil 300V 90W140. Motul's synthetics are race-bred, used by top race teams like Nismo's JGTC effort and Subaru's WRC rally team, so we're pretty sure they're good enough for us. Synthetics work better during high-heat applications and are less likely to choke, just what's needed for hot-running turbo engines. On a side note, we also replaced Mitsubishi's fish oil brake fluid with Motul RBF 600. The RBF formula is of the best around, performing nearly as well as or better than many ber-expensive exotics like the legendary F1 standards: Castrol SRF and AP550. Motul's dry boiling point is an astounding 600 degrees F-amazing. Motul also resists absorbing moisture from the atmosphere better than most brake fluids do, resulting in a higher boiling point than many of its competitors.

Even in stock trim, the differences between the VIII and IX are readily apparent. Turbo lag is less of a problem with the IX, while low-end torque is more readily available and power doesn't taper off as quickly as the VIII at higher engine speeds. Project EVO's baseline dyno results at XS Engineering revealed consistency run after run, quite the contrast from our rather erratic EVO VIII project from a few years back. In stock form, Project EVO IX surprised us with a healthy 265 whp at 6,500 rpm and 239 lb-ft of torque at 4,250 rpm; a whopping 38whp gain from the old EVO VIII project.