By on May 23, 2008

09_evo_action_front.jpgAnyone who’s driven one of the first nine iterations of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution (a.k.a. Evo) approaches the tenth fully expecting chest-flattening acceleration and spleen-rupturing cornering. Obviously, the Evo X’s engine and chassis are bound (and determined) to continue the model’s budget supercar-killer tradition. But there’s another less welcome Evo tradition: denture destroying suspension and a Gladware interior. Will the Evo X’s ride quality and interior materials once again conspire to kill the love for all but the masochists among us?  

The Evo’s new X-terior has moved Mitsubishi’s compact sedan from the bargain basement to the penthouse suite. The X’s profile now strongly resembles the Acura TSX and Volvo S40. The new Evo’s snout sports a huge black inverted trapezoid-grille, fender vents, a rear wing and body kit. Thanks to the car’s more svelte shape, the macho mods don’t scream “teenage toy.” Of course, it helps that Audi has made the world safe for gargantuan grilles, and that overpriced body kits are now common on overpriced German machinery.

lancerevo08_int1600.jpgThe old Evo’s interior was cheaper than a one-star Romanian hotel. The new Lancer’s interior is a bit more upmarket, but it’s still a third-rate romance, low rent [Buick] rendezvous. Mitsubishi would have been well-advised to replicate the Alcantara interior of the Prototype X concept. One nit an upholstery shop can’t fix: the semi-swoopy exterior yields a windshield base that stretches out like an African Savanna; it’s a bit alienating for a “driver’s car.” Well-bolstered Recaro seats compensate.

Like just about every car (and person) in recent years, the new Evo’s gained some weight. Yet unlike Subaru, Mitsubishi refused to forsake the World Rally Championship’s 2.0-liter rule in their rally car production variant. Two liters of displacement for a 3500lbs. car? That’s like playing croquet with a toothbrush, isn’t it?

lancerevo08_eng1600.jpgNope. The Evo’s four-pot may not deliver the Subaru STI’s seamless shove, but once the revs crest 4000 rpm, the Mitsu’s mini-mill pulls like an amphetamine-crazed tractor. We’re torquing 300 ft.-lbs. of twist. And the X’s engine revs so freely that getting into the pleasure zone is not a problem. And then, suddenly, 291 horsepower at 6500 rpm.

Thanks to premium-powered variable valve timing and turbo technology, boost lag is also not an issue– provided you keep the revs up. Otherwise, it’s a second of “what the?” followed by “Holy CRAP!” Missing–and missed: a sixth ratio in the GSR’s manual transmission. The Evo’s engine spins at nearly 3000 rpm at 60mph. An extra cog certainly would have helped boost the mpgs from a never-caned 16/22, in case anyone’s wondering.

evo29.jpgThe Evo’s strangely-hyphenated, driver-adjustable Super All Wheel-Control deploys a pair of trick, electronically-controlled differentials. Minus the jargon-laden physics lessons and references to the anti-HAL handling nanny (I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid you can’t not do that), the nose-heavy compact feels balanced, agile, controllable, poised, planted, secure, balletic and ballistic.

Like any great driver’s car, the Evo X makes you a better driver than you are without taking you out of the equation (in every sense of the phrase). Point the Evo where you want it to go, and it goes there confidently, smoothly and quickly. The Evo X’s steering isn’t as quick and sharp as before, but compared to just about any other sedan you can buy— including (especially?) BMW’s new M3— it offers a highly responsive, entirely intimate helm.

09_evo_static_fr_3_4.jpgThere’s only one flaw: a tug at the wheel when digging into the throttle on turn exits. Never mind. Whether going, turning, and stopping, the new Evo has an eager, playful nature that’s all-too-uncommon in the post-Lexus age. Mitsubishi’s supercar remains a blast to drive, even in typical suburban driving. At the same time, it feels much more polished and controllable than before. You don’t have to push it hard to enjoy it. And if you do push it hard, you’ll enjoy it even more.

With the old Evo, potential buyers who could see past the crap interior were put off by its rock-hard ride. Here, as elsewhere, the new Evo ups its game without losing its character. No doubt the new lightweight 18” wheels and improved rubber– plenty pricey and not anywhere near immortal asymmetrical Yokohama ADVANS– have helped matters. The Evo’s no more a Lexus than you are, but it’s not a go-kart, either. Some BMWs are worse (128i anyone?).

27_evo_static_rr_3_4.jpgThe new Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X has eliminated the previous car’s faults without killing the joy. The punishment is gone; the fun remains. Unfortunately, there is a new and major downside: price. The Evo’s hardware is a steal for $35,600. That’s premium compact territory– without a premium compact interior or a premium compact brand. Those who can’t see themselves spending thirty-five large for a mainstream extreme machine, or simply don’t have a BMW-sized budget, might be happier in the upcoming Lancer Ralliart. Or not.

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53 Comments on “2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X Review...”

  • avatar

    I always thought that the sole purpose of the Evos and WRX’s was to have a cheap car full of go-fast parts, refinement be damned. Now of course, these things are becoming an institution and moving up market leaving their initial home territory.

    So where’s my Versa GT-R, Jazz VTEC, Yaris GT?

  • avatar

    Personally, I miss the bargain-basement appeal of the earlier Evo’s. They were Davids in a world of Goliaths.

    In some respects, I do wish they went with the 2.4 block instead of sticking with their 2.0. It certainly could’ve used the additional torque with the extra weight it carries, and it’s kinda pointless for Mitsubishi to stick with the 2.0 rules, especially since they haven’t actively competed in the WRC in almost three years.

  • avatar

    Whoa, price. I think I’d stick with a SRT4, Cobalt SS t/c, or WRX (eeeh, maybe not), and spend the $10,000 difference on gasoline.

    Or, for roughly the same price, a 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T 6-speed.

  • avatar

    All through the first 3/4 of the article I was thinking that the rear tires/wheels look comically small. And then I find out that they’re 18″ wheels?!?

    This baby’s got back.

  • avatar


    I’d actually say the one to beat in the $23,000 bunch is the MazdaSpeed3. What you essentially give up dropping down to that class is the Evo’s high-tech AWD system.

    Mitsubishi will soon field the Ralliart to compete with those cars. It might hit the sweet spot in terms of performance and price.


    The problem for me on seeing the previous Evo as a bargain is that the price was never low enough that the interior of the car didn’t seem dreadfully cheap. Even the stripper RS (no power windows, locks, audio) listed for over $28,000.


    The regular 2008 Lancer’s been holding up well so far in TrueDelta’s survey. Of course, the Evo has an entirely different powertrain.

  • avatar

    Great car, but at that price there are a lot of great or greater cars.
    One last time and then I will give up. I still don’t get the star rating math. I wish some of my profs had graded like this.
    Hope everyone has a nice safe holiday weekend.

  • avatar

    The Evo gets lots of extra credit in “handling” and (if there were a star for it) “fun to drive.”

  • avatar

    Wow Nice Review proud to be a Mitsu owner.
    I have a Lancer 08 ES. In my own opinion the interior of the Base model Lancer are almost identical to the Evo X except for the Recaro seat,steering wheel,shift knob and some little knobs and not including the paddle shifter and NAV. The Lancer family starts at $13,500 to $40,000(if you live in New England Evo X are over price) The sound system is extra ordinary I have a regular 1 disc player and the sound is awesome.
    compared to 2008 Honda Civic,Nissan Sentra or Corolla systems. Believe me it doesn’t sound like a can. Fast Key or keyless entry and “start” are available or can be installed in all models.

    Hundreds of Performance parts are available.

    If you love tuning a car. Lancer is the answer.
    On my Lancer ES I thought it was going to be heavy to accelerate but I found out that the MIVEC engine can really tolerate maximum torque without reaching the redline. You can easily overtake 5 cars on the fast lane in a hundreds of a second.

    My opinion will not fit on this box if I keep on going. If your planning to buy your kid an econo box I would recommend the Lancer.

  • avatar

    In other news Honda has just announced that they have stripped most of the in car entertainment, sound deadening and storage cubbies from the new Odyssey minivan in order to save weight and facilitate more responsive handling in the twisties. They have also raised the price by a few grand…

  • avatar

    i dont really see how you could use this car in normal driving. maybe the occidental blast down an onramp or an autocross every few sundays. i dont think those instances would make me pay the extra thousands for this car compared to the curent breed of 200-250hp $22k-25K cars.

    i have a 07 GTI that I regularly autocross and get my kicks. But i cant even get close to its limits on the road, The ride is very comfortable and the interior is top notch. so im not getting punished between track days. maybe im just to old to understand (im 23)

  • avatar

    Still a great car overall but I question Mistubishi’s direction. Compared to the Evo IX, the X gains no extra power with a new engine and adds 300 pounds for $3-4k. There are too many players at this price range and it’s not such a bargain anymore.

  • avatar

    For that price you’d be lucky to get a Ralliart in Europe. But that is becoming an old story…

    Hard to get over though. I thought it would at least be 40k+ in the US, then I see you can buy more than 2 of those in the US for the same price of one here in Europe.

    Still is an amazing car though. If I’d have the money I would happily come up with the Euro 60K+ it takes to get my hands on one in our lovely socialist country that is known as the Netherlands.


  • avatar

    Some high performance cars that are a blast to drive at 8/10 and up are almost boring at 5/10. This has been my impression of the E46 and E9X M3, for example.

    I found the Evo to be fun even at 5/10, thanks to quick steering and a rev-happy engine. Unlike with any powerful front-driver, you don’t have to worry about wheelspin when dipping into the throttle on turn exits. There’s a touch of torque steer if you get on the gas with the wheel turned, but nowhere near front-drive levels.

    I drove a GTI again recently to get a sense of what went wrong in morphing that platform into the Tiguan SUV. It’s fun, but not nearly as fun as the Evo, even well short of the limit. The ride isn’t that much better. And the steering simply isn’t as quick or as sharp. The Germans tend to relax the steering to prevent twitchiness at high speeds–the autobahn and all–and this cuts back on their appeal for me at lower speeds.

    On top of this, VW’s electro-mechanical system has a dead spot on center that’s livable on the GTI but is just awful in the Tiguan.

  • avatar

    Wow…22 mpg EPA highway out of a two liter four banger…That must be some kind of record (for a non rotary motor), and not the good kind.

  • avatar

    Gas Mileage that is a problem but Bimmers, Acura, GTI Volkswagen,Benz,Audi etc etc are all the same league except for Honda and Corolla.

    Learn About the Evo X on this site.

  • avatar

    The Evo and STi, at $35K+ base, have simply jumped the value shark. This is 135i, and G35/G37 territory. Gotta love these rally rice rockets, but at these prices they’ve just lost much of their original appeal.

  • avatar

    I’d look into a used Corvette for $35k (just for the better gas mileage).
    I seriously don’t get these cars, I guess.

  • avatar

    5 stars for the Evo?!

    We need a good old-fashioned, TTAC-style head-to-head with the STi.

  • avatar

    The base is $33,600. You can get a 135i with Sport Package and metallic paint for about $3,500 more. That’s not an insignificant amount of money.

    If you feel you can do without the Evo’s high-tech AWD system, the Ralliart is on the way. And it’ll still have AWD.

    I haven’t driven the new STI yet. The old one had more punch than the Lancer, but didn’t handle as well. The new WRX doesn’t handle as well as the old WRX. The STI starts over $35,000, but also has a higher level of standard equipment than the Evo.

  • avatar

    I agree with ande5000:

    Maybe buyers of this car will only cross shop the WRX, but what if they wander into a VW dealership or Mazda dealership? They’ll soon realize they get a lot more for their greenbacks.

    I’m still in awe on that price point.

  • avatar

    my GTI just turned in 28.5mpg on my last tank of gas.

  • avatar

    “The Evo’s strangely-hyphenated, driver-adjustable Super All Wheel-Control deploys a pair of trick, electronically-controlled differentials.” -that cracked me up

    Great write-up, I was thinking about driving one this weekend, now I’m definitely going to check one out, today!

    I’m all for the “maturing” of the Evo it was bit hardcore as a daily driver for the 30-somethings.

  • avatar

    I’ve personally been disappointed by many cars that have been “matured” overly much. My personal feeling is that they’ve got this one about just right.

    When I drove the previous Evo I just couldn’t see myself owning one. I can see myself in this one.

  • avatar

    Those EPA ratings (accurate or not) are seriously bad. Premium fuel around here is now about $4.30/gallon. The Evo benches about the same EPAs as a Mercedes E550 with automatic transmission, 382 HP, 391 lb*ft torque, and a few hundred extra pounds of weight. The AWD BMW 335xi adds more power and weight and still gets 3 MPG better on the highway.

    Whoever buys the Evo new sure better hold on for a while, because the resale price is going to plummet if gas prices continue to rise further.

  • avatar

    What’s the point of a four banger with gas mileage that makes V8 look good?

    And that price, boy, does it ever miss its market.

  • avatar

    A V8 or V6 versus a 4 cylinder is totally different field. How can 6 to 8 cylinder consume less gas than a 4 Cylinder. just like saying a Coke taste like Pepsi. Doesn’t make any sense.Common People my Lancer is about 25 mpg on the city and 28 on the Highway. The Sticker said lesser than my figure but was it right. Nope

    I only pay $35.00 for a full tank and 6 to 8 Cylinder will cost about $60.00 to $70.00 for a full tank.

  • avatar

    I read the review and then saw the 5/5 stars. Did I read the wrong review?

    Or are the negative points raised about the Evo similar in importance as it’s tow rating? If that’s the case, it should be a lot clearer because I’d expect a 5/5 car to be a “Wow!” not a “They didn’t screw it up completely.”

  • avatar

    A V6 or V8 is a totally different from a 4 cylinder engine. I don’t buy that a V8 will consume lesser fuel than a 4 cylinder.

    Just like saying that Coke taste like Pepsi.

    I spent $30.00 buck for a full tank on my Lancer and my friends spent almost $80.00 buck for a full tank on their V6 and 8. I get 25 mph on city and 28 on highways. Driving a Lancer is the thrill is in your spine and it will never go away it is always there when you start the car.

    The Bimmer, Audi and Benz dont’t have the S-YAC,SST,Active Control differential, brembo breaks,NAV,Recaro seats,650 watts rockford and fosgate sound system with sub woofer etc etc.

    Michael Karish is totally honest with his review and he is not dreaming. Before you judge a product by it’s Label try it first before you complain. Go to the nearest Mitsu dealer and test drive a Lancer and Evo X then you judge the product.

    If you love cars too old is not an excuse.
    Tell that to the oldest Indy 500 car driver.

    The price of Evo’s is always been $35,000 with all electronic gadget except for New England overprice Evo’s

  • avatar

    BEAT: try it first before you complain. Go to the nearest Mitsu dealer and test drive a Lancer and Evo X

    Sorry, I am too old for the boy racer image. Also, I am not complaining, I am simply stating that this car may be mispositioned. Price-wise it no longer fits in its intended market, and image-wise it’s still stuck in the “Civic with a fart can” buyer appeal.

  • avatar

    BEAT: A V6 or V8 is a totally different from a 4 cylinder engine. I don’t buy that a V8 will consume lesser fuel than a 4 cylinder.

    Probably the easiest counter is the Corvette which is rated at 16/26. The combination of its tall 6th gear and the LS engine allows for efficient highway cruising. I know a guy with a decently modded Evo IX putting out 500hp (Z06 level) and he can barely manage double-digit mileage …highway. In the future, I’d suggest being a little more open minded towards non-Lancer products.

  • avatar

    Actually you can reach double digits on 500 hp
    by doing 65 mph on the highway and using the cruise control. But 500 hp is too much power for a daily driver. I am not racing my car to the next red light. I commute to school every day for 30 miles one way that’s 60 miles in one day.

    I just want to say is that the Evo X is a totally different car especially that has all advance electronics that you cannot find under $35,000

  • avatar

    5 stars? I think not based on the fuel mileage and the ‘they didn’t screw it up’ standard. But hey, you got to throw in some shots at the Bimmers of the world so all is good. right?

  • avatar


    $30 bucks to fill the lancer’s tank?

    it costs $45 for 11 or so gallons of premium in a crappy old focus (but thats in illinois)

  • avatar

    While more cylinders will generally mean more fuel consumption, there’s a LOT more to the equation than just I4 vs V6 vs V8. Yes, more cylinders means more displacement (usually), more friction area, more spark plugs, etc. However, other variables include the intake and exhaust systems, forced induction, fuel injector flow rate, gearing, and drag (mechanical and aerodynamic).

    The Evo may have a 4 cylinder engine, but it’s a highly tuned powerplant with a turbo (how else do you get 300hp out of 2 liters?). It also has AWD, which adds a lot of mechanical drag. Get the dual-clutch tranny and add in more of that drag. Lastly, the sedan is an inferior aerodynamic shape.

    It’s no wonder why the Corvette will get better-to-comparable mileage. It’s got a simple V8, RWD, less weight, and better aerodynamics.

  • avatar

    i just one on parked on the street a couple minutes ago – it looked fantastic.

    conversely, i saw a silver bmw 128i convertible just up the block – it looked not so fantastic. it looked pudgy. plus it was being towed away by the nypd.

  • avatar

    Whoa…$35k starting price?

    Guess I’ll just wait for the Ralliart Lancer to show up. So what if it has ONLY 235hp? It’s got the old Evo’s AWD system and it SHOULD only cost $25k, same as the MazdaSpeed3 I’ve got my eye on.

  • avatar

    I spent $30.00 buck for a full tank on my Lancer and my friends spent almost $80.00 buck for a full tank on their V6 and 8.

    All that tells you is the relative size of the gas tanks, not how good the mileage is. Full boost on the Evo is (I believe) 11.8 psi, so the air flow, and hence fuel flow, power and mpg, is roughly equivalent to a 3.6 liter normally aspirated engine.

    But no-one buys these sort of cars worrying about mpg. It’s a little too focused for my needs; a hatch or wagon Ralliart, if they ever exist, would possibly make a good replacement for my current WRX wagon (the new Subarus are just too ugly to consider).

  • avatar

    the front looks like it hit something and the bumper fell off, or like a boxer that lost his front teeth. weird lookin.

  • avatar

    First I HATE the spoiler. Second, I hate having to rev up a car to 4000 rpms in order to get some torque. Third, I would rather be seen in a MS3 and have an extra 10 grand. Fourth, I don’t trust Mitsubishi. They have a terrible reputation in Japan and have been involved in serious scandals. I also question their safety.

    Five stars? I wouldn’t even want to be seen driving one of these. For the same money, I would rather have a used M3.

  • avatar
    Matthew Sullivan

    I own an Evo VIII and have test driven the Evo X.

    I have done about 10 track days in my Evo and taken it on two 4000+ mile road trips and three 3000+ mile road trips. It has been on the George Washington Bridge, at the corner of Hollywood and Vine, on The Tail of the Dragon, and it’s been on parts of Old Route 66 in every state through which The Route passes. I also know that it will do 0-50 in 6 seconds on the beach. It would be a gross understatement to say that I like my car very much.

    The Evo X is a spectacular car by comparison to almost anything. With the X, Mitsubishi addressed many of the flaws which afflicted the VIII and IX. But the X also lost the sharp edge which made the prior car special: the steering. An Evo VIII’s steering feel and turn-in is a singular experience almost without equal in automobiledom. By comparison, the steering in the X is merely…. “quick”.

    I’ll be keeping my VIII. The X isn’t even on my shopping list at the moment.

    But, oddly, my fantasy car is an X with its flaws addressed thusly:
    – weight trimmed to 3200 lbs
    – 6th gear added to the manual tranny, with 6th geared for highway cruising (unlike the 6-speed in the IX MR)
    – battery and other space-hogging junk moved out of the trunk back to where they belong
    – fender bulges replaced by the more subtle, Audi-esque flares seen on the Concept X
    – gaping front maw replaced with…anything

    Regarding the pricing comments: $35k is not an unreasonable price by comparison to the prior models. In 2003 the VIII was almost $31k with wing and sunroof. The Evo has always been G35 money. But the G35 is a 3-series competitor. The Evo is an M3 competitor. On a performance basis, anyway….

    The Evo has the performance of a $55k car with a the interior of a $15k car. Average that out and you get $35k. I call that a good freakin’ deal.

  • avatar

    why they insist on sticking to 2.0 liters baffles me – Mitsubishi doesn’t even compete in rally anymore.

  • avatar

    Folks, if you can’t see the point to this car, then an explanation won’t help.

    The price is irrelevant if it speaks your language, and I have an old Talon turbo that gives me an idea what this vehicle is about –fun. It sure ain’t about whether or not a Corvette gets better highway mileage if you pussyfoot it, or the quality of its interior compared to a Mazda MS3.

    If you think it is, then please return to worrying about corn juice, the price of gas, and why GM is now saying in its latest annual report that its internal accounting controls were out of whack last year, and may not materially disclose its true financial condition. Who’da thunk that?

  • avatar

    Just happy to see a car review that isnt a high end German sports sedan. Thanks—

  • avatar

    Did I mention that it could really use a sixth gear? Yeah, I did.

  • avatar


    I believe the Mitsubishi still compete on Rally events especially on Paris to Dakar Rally. That’s why they built the outlander and Evo X.

    carlos,negros, I believe you reading the old news about Mitsubishi. Mitsubishi Motors of America has a different management than the Main office in Japan. In America Mitsu are run by American management not Japanese style of management. The only Japanese car that is reliable is Toyota. Period. But I still love the Evo and regular Lancer because I don’t see them a lot on the roads.

    You can’t hold the M3 with one finger doing 65 mph
    on a hair pin. BMW is not the only car in the world. I wonder why Ford has the best selling car in Europe then BMW?
    yes 30 buck will last 3 days on my Lancer. Because I don’t have a heavy foot and I only tap the gas pedal not STEP ON IT. How? you have to see me to believe me.

  • avatar

    Awesome effort by 3 diamonds that shows they can still compete in the marketplace. The only question remains will dealers still mark up the price and try to gouge customers or not? As long as they don’t make a move with the Evo X deals may still be had.

    The mileage is a real downer for a small car like this. I know buyers of this type of car are not supposed to care about economy but feeding this machine 5 dollar a gallon premium at 22mpg on the highway is going to hurt. My truck gets 19 for heavens sake.

    I would suspect most buyers will customize the interior with various carbon fiber, aluminum and painted pieces, so the Gladware is not necessarily a bad thing, it shows the money went into the driveline and suspension and that is a good thing.

  • avatar

    This car had to go upscale to corral older buyers such as myself who drive BMW’s but find them getting a little too “fat” in their old age and want a little more “raw” perfomanc. Also Mitsubishi wants more people who CAN AFFORD THE CAR and INSURANCE since the 20 somethings cant afford the 35k+ for the most part.

  • avatar

    I can’t help but wonder… If Mitsubishi would put the same kind of zeal into the rest of their lineup… perhaps they would make better cars.

    Currently, the Evo is the only Mitsubishi product worth a damn. Everything else is easily surpassed by multiple competitors. Imagine what would happen if they made the Galant (currently a car with zero identity or charisma) into a really sweet machine, instead of a wannabe Camry. The talent and potential are clearly on tap.

  • avatar
    Michael Ayoub

    Two awesome things about this car: one, sure, the MSRP is high, but you can buy them more much less. GSRs can be had for about $31k. Second, you can have so much more power very easily.

    According to DSPORT, for less than $900 in upgrades, you can gain an additional 25.5 peak wheel horsepower. On their dyno, the Evo X made 271.4 hp and 269.2 lb-ft torque stock. After installing a new air filter ($40), they were generating 282 peak horsepower; after a new exhaust (that happened to be 15 pounds lighter than the stock exhuast also) they were putting down 291.5 horsepower ($700). A new intercooler pipe ($245) brought the final figures to 296.9 AWHP and 288.2 lb-ft torque.

    Pretty nice numbers, if you ask me…

  • avatar
    Michael Ayoub

    I just realized: that adds up to $985. Wow, I suck.

  • avatar


    I own a 2008 Evo X. I only paid 30k for it new (GSR) and I modded it for a reflash and manual boost controller for a bonus of +100 HP. Serious.

    I can drive it hard and get 10 miles per gallon and a fucking boner from the adrenaline rush, or I can cruise and get 26-27 MPG.

    You can whine about the (relatively) cheap interior, but the value is there. The suspension on this thing is insane. It cannot be understood by words alone, it must be experienced. This car is like driving a rocket propelled laser beam. As one who doesn’t give a shit about the “quality” of the interior, it is EXACTLY what I wanted.

    Yes, it is heavier than its ancestors. That doesn’t change the fact that launching from first gear will literally force your face into a smile as your cheeks are pulled back by LAW. The laws of physics.

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