Mitsubishi Evos are not natural track-day heroes. Despite its rallying ancestry, the Japanese turbo-nutter saloon has never been particularly at home on the circuit.
Don’t get me wrong, an Evo can be a devastatingly quick track weapon, but you’ll need to fiddle with the suspension, brakes, slap on some trick tyres and put it on a diet before you get a properly quick, flingable circuit car.
The Evo awaits its track test, while some slower Japanese metal gets some runs in
Stock Evos, on the other hand, are all about point-to-point pace. In other words, the ability to get to town ‘B’ from town ‘A’ via favourite back-road ‘C’ faster than anything else with four wheels and number plates - including two superbikes – is the crowning glory of an Evo’s talents.
Conversely, a standard Evo’s performance on track is traditionally a little disappointing. With Evos of old what has felt like razor-sharp dynamic behaviour on the road has, in the past, translated into a surefooted but unrewarding and surprisingly unadjustable on-track performance. In the end the rigours of circuit driving has left many an Evo with no way to hide its bulk, and only heavily worn tyres, brakes and clutch to show for all its techno-wizardry.
It was with that thought in mind that we decided to take our Evo along to the recent Help for Heroes track day at Dorset’s Bovington tank test facility. If anywhere was going to test the Evo’s track-day credibility Bovington’s four-odd miles of sweeping, undulating track punctuated with tight, technical traffic cone chicanes would be it.
Initial runs were almost disappointing. Yes, the FQ360’s linear power delivery made it effortlessly fast. Yes, it proved amazingly chuckable through the technical sections (catching a heavily breathed-on R33 Skyline and harrying it through the coned sections, despite it shooting away on the straights was a particular highlight). And yes, it felt as though it was electromagnetically attached to the track. Somehow, though, the sheer capability of it all left me feeling a little cold – where was the adjustability, the challenge?
Suddenly you could pitch it into corners on the brakes and keep it balanced on the throttle without the electronic stability programme turning a tippy-toed almost-drift into a flat, uninspiring experience of grip with a whiff of understeer. Even when it rained, the ASC-off neutral handling balance remained.
In fact, even though the brakes and tyres took the inevitable pounding of a large saloon at a track day, the PH Evo actually felt like it used its brakes a wee bit less with the electronic intervention turned off – presumably because you have greater control on the limit.
In the end FQ360 proved itself more than equal to the task of Exige-chaser, and the all-wheel-drive security is most definitely a boon at a place like Bovington, where nasty gutters and unforgiving wooden posts line the track. I did hand the keys back to Chris-R the following Monday with a rather apologetic smile, however, as i pointed to the near-slick front tyres and muttered, "you might want to get those looked at..."