Lancer Evo X Performance Mods

The 7 Best Lancer Evo X Performance Mods

Jake Mayock

Meet Jake

Jake is a founder of 8020 Media and TuningPro. He has over a decade of experience in the automotive industry including parts sales, writing, DIY modifications & repairs, and more. Jake is currently converting his N54 to a single turbo and building a Miata track car. He’s an experienced, hands-on automotive enthusiast who delivers in-depth, well-researched content.

The Evo X remains an iconic tuner cars in the performance enthusiast community, despite being discontinued years ago. The 10th gen of the Evo was built off of the previous Evo 9 but received a new 2.0L turbo engine: the 4B11T, replacing the previous 4G63. Out of all the changes the most impactful is the addition of forged rods and stronger internals – all allowing the Evo X to run more boost and handle higher power levels.

The upgrades to the block and internals, plus a new turbocharger, allow the Evo X to produce 350whp with ease. All you’ll need is a few basic bolt-on mods like tuning, an intake, downpipe, intercooler, fueling, and some boost control. In this guide we’re going to discuss each of these mods in-depth including benefits, power gains, and more. Additionally, we’ll cover everything you need to take the 4B11T over 400whp and beyond.

Lancer Evo X Performance Mods - Best 4B11T Upgrades

Best Lancer Evo X Performance Upgrades

  • Flash tune
  • Cold air intake
  • Front pipes
  • FMIC piping
  • Fueling / E85 Fuel
  • Blow off valve (only good for 25psi)
  • Boost controller

Mods recommended for >350whp

  • FMIC upgrade
  • Injector upgrades
  • Turbo / turbo manifold
  • Camshaft upgrade
  • Internal and block upgrades

1. Evo X Flash Tune / Custom Tuning

The best bang-for-the-buck mod on an Evo X, and really any turbo engine, is a flash tuner. Flash tunes come with an array of off-the-shelf (OTS) maps that can be turned on and off easily with a simple hand held device that plugs directly into the OBDII port. Tunes adjust fueling, AFRs, boost targets, timing, and other variables to increase power and provide a smoother and more consistent power band.

Additionally, a tune is important for any Evo X looking to add further modifications such as an intake or exhaust upgrades. A tune is able to adjust the factory tune to account for the additional air flow from Evo X intake upgrades, for example. Not only does this give you a healthier engine, it also helps maximize the performance gains achieved from these other performance mods. While an intake might get you 5whp on a stock engine, combine it with a tune and the gains will be closer to 10whp.

A flash tune is an essential modification if you are looking to get to the 300whp+ ballpark. The alternative option is custom tuning which we start to recommend around the 350whp range. Flash tuners, such as the Cobb Accessport will come with pre-built maps that can accommodate most simple bolt-on mods. However, once you start throwing fueling upgrades, turbo upgrades, and other more advanced mods, the benefits of a custom tune become more important not only for power gains but also for reliability.

Tune Benefits

  • 30-60whp gains
  • Similar torque gains
  • Smoother, expanded power band
  • Plug-and-play

2. Cold Air Intake Upgrade

Most of the power gains from a tune come from turning up boost levels. While the stock intake system on the Evo X is completely capable on lightly modified engines, once you turn up the boost it starts to become restrictive. Running high levels of boost without more air flow puts extra stress on the turbo and decreases reliability and efficiency of the turbo.

Performance intake systems will provide ~50% more air flow than the stock intake system. This takes stress off of the turbocharger and improves its efficiency. Again, as mentioned above the benefit of an intake really only comes into play when boost levels are increased. An intake system on a completely stock engine won’t provide more than a few horsepower.

Cold Air Intake Benefits

  • 5-12whp gains and similar torque gains
  • 50%+ improvement to air flow
  • Improved turbo efficiency and reliability
  • Awesome intake sound gains

3.Downpipe & Front Pipe Upgrades

Most turbocharged engines have the catalytic converter sitting directly in the downpipe. The downpipe bolts directly to the turbo and therefore is the initial exhaust component in a turbo car. However, the 4B11T engine actually doesn’t have a catalytic converter inside the downpipe.

Instead, the catalytic converter sits in the front pipe or the test pipe. This front pipe bolts directly to the downpipe. Catalytic converters are naturally restrictive and create increased backpressure in the exhaust system which has a negative effect on the turbocharger. Backpressure decreases the turbos ability to spool quickly and puts more stress on it. Therefore, upgrading the front pipe is recommended to reduce backpressure which also lowers EGTs and takes stress off the turbo. Running high levels of boost on the stock exhaust system puts a beating on the stock turbo.

The second component of the exhaust system is the cat-back portion. While upgrading the cat-back portion will help reduce some additional backpressure, the most important exhaust component to upgrade is the front pipe. We really only recommend cat-back upgrades for the people who want a louder exhaust note since the power gains don’t justify the cost.

For considerations like catted vs catless, check out our full Evo X downpipe upgrade guide.

Front Pipe Upgrade Benefits

  • 10-15whp gains and similar torque gains
  • Lower exhaust gas temps
  • Less exhaust backpressure
  • Faster turbo spool
  • Better turbo reliability

4. Intercooler & Piping Upgrades

The front mount intercooler from the factory is actually quite good. It is large and has adequate airflow even for tuned and modified 4B11T engines. While the intercooler itself is very good, the factory piping is not. The stock piping uses a lot of very long silicone hoses. These hoses experience a lot of expansion under heavy boost which creates inconsistent boost spikes or variations in the boost curve. Replacing these silicone hoses with a hard pipe kit is common to provide better boost control, consistent air flow, and improved throttle response.

You have two options here: just replace the piping or upgrade the full FMIC. While we prefer just to upgrade the FMIC while you’re doing the piping, it really isn’t necessary until you are pushing over 350whp. However, upgrading it before then could be beneficial if you are tuned and track your car or use it for aggressive street driving. While the factory intercooler is good an upgraded one will still provide lower IATs and minimize turbo heat soak.

It’s up to you on whether you upgrade the piping or the full FMIC. Most forum folks don’t recommend spending the money on the full intercooler unless you are running into a lot of heat soak or are upgrading your turbocharger.

Intercooler Piping Benefits

  • Better boost control
  • Increased air flow
  • Quicker throttle response
  • ~10whp with full FMIC upgrade

An FMIC (and upgraded piping) aren’t really power producing mods. They are more so reliability and power loss prevention mods. Upgraded piping will give you more consistent boost which will provide smoother power delivery. A full FMIC will prevent heat soak which can cause horsepower losses in the 20whp range during aggressive driving or tracking. So both of the mods are more about preventing power loss from heat soak and providing more consistent power delivery.

5. Fueling Upgrades & E85

E85, also known as flex fuel, is pretty much required to reach 350whp without turbo or cam upgrades. Running all of the mods on this list without E85 will probably put you in the 320whp range. Meaning E85 alone will provide power gains around 30whp, and potentially even up to 50whp.

On the stock Evo X, the fuel pump and injectors can only handle small blends around the E30 mark, which is probably good for about 10whp. If you want to get more aggressive and run 100% E85 you will need an upgraded fuel pump, and at least 750cc injectors but preferably 900cc+ injectors. And you’ll need some upgraded feed lines. All of the things you need can be bought in a simple E85 flex fuel kit.

E85 Benefits

  • 10-50whp gains and similar torque gains
  • Lower engine temps
  • More aggressive ignition timing
  • Reduced chances of engine knock and pre-detonation
  • Higher boost levels

6. Blow Off Valve

There is some debate on the internet over whether the Evo X blow off valves are all metal or if some are plastic. All US made Evo X’s had metal BOV’s. However, some international MR automatic transmission models came with a plastic blow off valve. Regardless of which you have, replacing the blow off valve is recommended.

The plastic BOV is known to start leaking boost around the 17-18psi mark. The metal BOV leaks significantly above 25psi. Considering the stock turbo is generally safe to run up to about 28psi, we recommend an upgraded blow off valve for anyone planning on running aggressive tunes or boost levels.

A BOV won’t give you any power gains per se, but it will prevent boost from bleeding off which helps hold power at under high boost. Additionally it helps improve turbo response.

You’ll need a custom tune to run E85 and the below boost control upgrades are highly recommended to prevent the turbo from over spinning.

Upgraded Blow Off Valve Benefits

  • Prevents boost leak
  • More consistent boost levels
  • Improved throttle/turbo response
  • Ability to run boost above 25psi
  • Cool sounds

7. Boost Control Upgrades

There are two different mods we’ll discuss for improved boost control. First is an upgraded boost control solenoid, or an electronic aftermarket controller. Second is a wastegate actuator upgrade.

While none of this upgrades add power they will help hold boost and provide a flatter boost curve. Overall, while not power adding they are important for maintaining power and creating smooth performance through the reduction of boost fluctuations.

Boost Control Solenoid

Similar to the Subaru WRX, the Lancer Evo uses a 2-port electronic boost control solenoid that diverts boost to the wastegate. 2-port solenoids are known to be inaccurate and cause a lot of boost fluctuations. Therefore, option A is to replace the factory 2-port with an aftermarket 3-port boost control solenoid. A 3-port solenoid will help hold boost better, provide more accurate readings for more consistent boost, and reduce stress on the turbo.

The second option to go with a more advanced boost controller, such as the GReddy Profec B Spec 2. An electronic boost controller like this provides more advanced boost customization and for boost to be altered and tweaked through a controller installed inside the car. While these systems are more advanced and provide more customization they are also a bit trickier to install and setup properly.

Unless you need more advanced boost control, we recommend sticking with a 3-port solenoid from either Cobb or Grimmspeed.

Wastegate Actuator Upgrade

The stock actuator on the wastegate wears down over time and eventually starts leaking boost above the 15psi levels above 6,000rpms. Therefore, we recommend upgrading the actuator to a 1.5 BAR actuator in combination with the 3-port EBCS. An upgraded actuator will help provide more consistent boost levels, reduce fluctuations, and help keep the boost curve as flat as possible in the upper rev ranges.

Evo X 4B11T Engine Power Limits

With E85 fueling and a more aggressive tune, the above mods can get you to approximately 350whp. The stock block is the weak point on the 4B11T engine. Most tuners recommend keeping torque below the 400wtq mark unless you have a reinforced block. Torque is the killer of the 4B11T, horsepower levels can reach 450whp+ with decent reliability so long as torque is properly tuned and kept under 400wtq and more ideally within the 360-380wtq range.

Running full E85 and full bolt-ons with an aggressive tune can get you very close to the 400whp mark. However, pushing 400whp+ consistently and reliably is going to require an upgraded turbo and some additional modifications.

Evo X Performance Mods for 350+whp

Sure the stock turbo can surpass 350whp. However, above these levels the turbo is getting pretty close to fully maxed out. Therefore if you want to run a consistent and reliable 400+ then you should consider upgrading your turbo along with the manifold.

Additionally, above 350whp an upgraded FMIC is recommended. The stock FMIC with upgraded piping is completely fine up until this point but eventually you will need a larger intercooler with better flow and more cooling capacity.

Full E85 or high concentrations of E85 will be needed as well. If you weren’t already running E85 first you will need to upgrade you fuel pump and injectors to handle more than small mixes of E85. E85 provides power gains in the 20-40whp range depending on the amount used.

Once you drop an upgraded turbo on the car, and upgraded camshaft is recommended as well. The camshaft will give about 20whp gains.

And lastly, at these levels you are probably going to want to push past 400wtq, which means you should consider reinforcing the block. Internal upgrades usually aren’t needed until you break well into the 500’s for wheel horsepower.

Stock Turbo & Block Max PSI

Too much boost is also a killer of internals and the block. 28psi is the recommended absolute max boost for the stock turbo on the stock block. Anything above that increases the likelihood of blowing the block and the pistons. If you want to play it safe, keep boost levels under 28psi. Just keep in mind anything above 25psi and you will need an upgraded blow off valve to prevent bleeding boost.

Ideally running any boost levels over 20psi you should have a proper custom tune. Bad tuning and high boost is an easy way to kill your 4B11T block and pistons. And again 28psi+ on the stock turbo is absolutely pushing it. Which is why we recommend an upgraded turbo for anyone that wants to run reliably and consistently in the upper 300’s, or 400+.

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