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The look of the new Mitsubishi Evo X represents more than just a change. Really, it's more like a revolution. The first nine generations of Lancer Evos all looked like souped-up taxis with tacked-on spoilers and wings. The new Evo is something else entirely, an attempt to break away from the Lancer and create a new model line.

Norihiko Yoshimine is the designer responsible for the Evo X program. At 32, he is very young for a chief designer in the Japanese car industry, much less at Mitsubishi. We met him for a quick conversation during our first drive of the Evo X at Mitsubishi's Tokachi proving grounds located in the wilds of Japan's northernmost island of Hokkaido.

This new car is a departure for the Evo.
It's quite a change from the previous Evos, don't you think? How can I put this? They gave us a little more to work with than the last Evo.

Say good-bye to the taxicab look.
Instead of having to add on wings and spoilers to defeat aerodynamic lift, like with previous Evos, we were able to design the new Evo in a wind tunnel and come up with an original body that generates downforce by itself. Obviously the rear wing helps, but the rear diffusers also came out of the original design process.

So far, the reaction is very positive.
We are also pleased that people like the look of the new car. That was our aim. We wanted to move away from the old car's chunky image and come up with a design that would widen the Evo's customer base.

We see some inspiration from European brands. The grille has a hint of Audi, while the taillights have a definite taste of Alfa Romeo.
It's funny you say that, because several Japanese journalists suggested the rear end has some Italian design cues, too. Yes, it might seem that way, but we think our design is unique. Don't you think the grille works well with those angled headlights? We think it looks like an eagle ready to pounce. Our final design was something that we thought suited the new Evo, so we went for it.

What cars have you owned in the past?
I used to have an Alfa 147. I like Alfa Romeos. There's no denying that they're exquisitely designed and look great on the road. But I don't own it anymore. No, I really liked that car, but it was always in the shop. Now my family has a Fiat Multipla, the one with the quirky headlights. My family loves it, especially the interior space and the ease of driving. As for me, I drive a Mitsubishi i. It has a rear-mounted turbocharged engine. It's a great little car and a modern-day design icon.

What was the most challenging aspect of the design process for the new Evo X?
That would have to be the one-piece grille. To keep costs down, Chief Engineer Hiroshi Fujii wanted to make the grille in three pieces, but those of us on the design side thought that a three-piece grille would look cheap and that would detract from the finished exterior. You would be able to see the joints and that would look nasty. So I really wanted to do a complete one-piece grille. And luckily, Fujii-san listened.
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