Model, Text and Photos by: James L. Ravelo II
Continuing on the successes of its predecessors, the all-new
Lancer Evolution VII stormed onto the stage in 2001. Based on the fresh-skinned
and larger Lancer Cedia platform, the Evolution VII is not just a new model,
it's become the best of what has been continuously been evolving through years
of development spent at the World Rally Championship. The new Evolution VII
boasts numerous improvements, superficially, mechanically, and structurally.
Superficially, the rear blistered fenders are now integrated into the body itself, unlike previous models which had a separate add-on blister fender. This translates into a better wheel well space and a cleaner aerodynamic profile. The two-level rear wing is now gone, but in place is a larger rear wing that more than enough makes up for the absence of the old rear wing. Portions of the car such as the roof, and windows are now thinner, and the bonnet and fenders are now made up of aluminim, helping keep the weight gain associated with a larger Lancer to base this Evolution from, to a bare minimum. In fact, the larger Evolution VII weighs in at 1400 kilograms, as much as the smaller previous Evolution, the Tommi Makinen edition Evolution VI.
Mechanically, the car carries numerous strengthened suspension components and additional reinforcing parts to help it perform better than previous models. The GSR model also gets 17" 4-pot Brembo front calipers while the rear gets 16" 2-pot Brembo calipers, and to handle the immense stopping power, the brake master cylinder and booster has been enlarged. New to this car is the Active Center Differential, wherein it has three settings to make the most of its performance potential - snow surface, tarmac surface, or gravel surface setting. Set at the correct setting, the Active Center Differential, in concert with the Active Yaw Control, gives the Evolution VII a bigger performance envelope to exploit to its advantage, such as higher cornering speeds and better all-around stability.
Numerous construction techniques have been employed to make this car structurally better. Mushroom welding methods have been used to not only save up on weight, but also to keep welds as strong, if not stronger, than conventional methods. The use of integrated components such as the rear blistered fenders mentioned above also helps in keeping things structurally stronger and lighter at the same time.
All told, this is the best Evolution model so far. In fact, it lapped the Tsukuba Circuit in Japan faster than its predecessor, the Tommi Makinen edition Evolution VI.
The kit comes in 13 parts - 5 runners (in yellow, clear color, or chrome plated), the body, a tire bag, a wet-transfer decal sheet, a polycap set, mesh, a metal rod, the manual, and an insert catalog of some car kits featured in the driving-oriented anime "Initial D" and car kits from another driving-oriented anime being sold by Fujimi. Assembly dictates the use of styrene cement for some parts and of course, painting which is best recommended done as the building process proceeds. Certain parts from the runners though are marked in the manual as not used as they are parts for the Evolution VI kit.
The manual is rather skimpy - it's only 4 pages. The first page contains a picture of the Evolution VII GSR, notes before, during and after assembly, and an illustrated listing of all the parts included necessary in building the kit. The second page contains decal placement instructions, paints receommended, and the assembly instructions from page 2 to page 4. The illustrated assembly instructions are clear and concise, and while they can be understandable even if Japanese, there is no clear division between processes, something which might confuse some modelers out there. A mesh pattern is printed on the last page to help in making the correct mesh shapes for the various intakes on the car kit. There's also an aftermarket service form at the last page, but it's only for Japanese use.
Included is a one-page (front only) color catalog of the
various car kits featured in the driving-oriented anime "Initial D"
and car kits from another driving-oriented anime being sold by Fujimi. No actual
pictures of the car kits though, only colored rough lineart, presumably for
use in the respective anime's promotional materials or other what-not.
The body of the Evolution is molded in one piece, although parts such as the side mirrors, taillamps, headlamps, 3-piece rear wing, wipers, the glass areas (in one-piece clear plastic), lamp covers and license plates, mesh and engine topside details will have to be attached separately sometime along the assembly process. Details such as door recesses are molded, and even the fuel filler door. The mesh have rather big gaps compared to other brands, but it isn't that a big deal anyway, and a pattern is printed on the last page of the manual to help in making the shapes. Wet-transfer decals are included for the all the markings such as for the windshield area, Mitsubishi logo, Evolution VII logo on the trunklid and license plates.
The mold quality of the body is quite nicely done, but it would seem to be a bit "pudgy" compared to the real car which is "sharper." The only gripe worth mentioning is the Mitsubishi logo on the front grill intake. It's attached to the bumper through a rather unsightly wide plastic, and I just cut off the logo, trimmed off the extra plastic, then reattached the logo onto the mesh for the front grill intake. Parts recyling seem to be existent here, considering that the Evolution VII isn't based on any of the previous models. Proof of this is the inclusion of the Evolution V's rear wing on one of the runners.
The modifications I did to the body was enlarge the openings on the hood, cut out the middle "bars" on the outlets at the sides of the front bumper, and I didn't put in the wipers and front license plate.
Every part of this kit's underchassis is molded in yellow
and most parts will require detail painting as the assembly process moves along.
Being a curbside kit, there is no engine, although engine details that can be
seen below the car are molded. A separate intercooler is included to be attached
later on, but there is no radiator. Another big gripe with this kit is that
the suspension, drivetrain, and even exhaust components and the floorpan seems
to be under-detailed. We don't get a nice representation of the front differential
and driveshaft, the rear differential is just "protrusion" from the
floorpan with a hole in the middle to let the metal rod through (more on that
rod later), the rear suspension's too basic in appearance and doesn't look like
anything that the real Evolution has. The front brake calipers though have wet-transfer
decals to indicate that they are "Brembo" disc brake calipers. The
front wheels attach to the front brake assemblies through a peg which is attached
to the opposite end where the wheel rims attach to, and is a rather hard process
since the space is quite small. The wheel rims aren't like a Tamiya kit where
there's a male end that goes into the brake assembly - a Fujimi wheel rim has
the female end and the peg serves as the male end (for the front rims) or the
metal rod (for the rear rims). The rear wheel rims attach to the rear brake
assemblies through a metal rod, and the metal rod goes through one rear brake
assembly, through the rear differential's hole, and out through the opposite
end rear brake assembly. The wheel rims are chrome silver-plated. The wheels
can turn through the use of polycaps inside the brake assemblies, and the front
wheels can steer. The tires have good detail though, with excellent tread and
I didn't use the stock muffler - instead, believe it or not, I used a shortened beam saber hilt from a 1/100 Bandai Gundam kit, and to my pleasant surprise, it made the transition from a 1/100 mecha (robot) kit to a 1/24 kit. I then used a bit of excess plastic from the runners to hold the new muffler to the floorpan. The wheels are not the stock wheels - they came from the Fujimi 1/24 Mine's Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VI RS, and I just painted over the flat chrome finish with a darker shade of "NATO Black" and put a layer of flat topcoat.
Molded in yellow plastic which will require detail painting to complete it, the cockpit contains details, but sadly, not enough. More griping on that later on. The front seats, dashboard, shifter, handbrake, center cockpit console, steering wheel and steering wheel column are separate parts which have to be attached later on. Decals are included for the "Recaro" front seats, the main dashboard display and center dashboard display panel (containing the airconditioning display). The side door panels are poorly detailed - just a straight rectangular recess on some areas. The real Lancer's side door panels have never looked that bad and so lacking in detail. The front seats are also rather wierd. The detail on the front is good, but the back has just a vertical recessed area. Another boo. The cockpit "tub" is one piece, and it attaches to specific points onto the floorpan between the front and rear wheelwells.
As with the underchassis, it would also seem that other
than the all-new dashboard, all the other parts are carried over (the mold might
be retooled a bit to lengthen the parts made) from the previous Evolution series.
A big boo.
The kit only gets a rating of "good" from me
because of the fact that it would seem that mold retooling and parts carry-over
seem to be the main feature of this kit, as evidenced by the underchassis and
cockpit, when the real car was literally built from the ground up. However,
since Fujimi's been the only one so far to build an Evolution VII kit, this
kit can keep Evolution fans satisfied until a better version from other companies
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