Yes, you read that title correctly. Mitsubishi’s next-generation Lancer Evolution is reportedly getting a diesel-electric hybrid powertrain in order to make it as fuel efficient as possible--a key factor to ensuring it meets tightening economy and emissions regulations while maintaining performance.

The plan is to install a compact turbodiesel engine in the Evo XI and match this with an electric motor. The turbodiesel would work like the current four-cylinder gasoline turbo found in the Evo X and drive all four wheels via Mitsubishi’s Super All Wheel Control (S-AWC) system. The electric motor would power the front wheels only and be able to drive the car on electric power alone for short distances or at low speeds.

Working in concert, they could deliver up to 350 horsepower, enough to rocket the car to 60 mph from rest in about 4.5 seconds. That's about four-tenths quicker than the current Evo X.

While the idea may seem a little farfetched, new economy and emissions regulations has got Mitsubishi so worried that the company even considered dropping the Evo model altogether from its lineup. A switch to a diesel-electric hybrid powertrain could just end up saving the rally legend from extinction.

[Autocar]