Tuesday 25th August 2009


ON THE ROAD IN THE MITSUBISHI EVO FQ400

£50k for an Evo? Ouch. We find out if it's worth it...


I hope you’re sitting down. I have just driven a £50k Mitsubishi Evo. This isn’t a custom-made job either, but a walk-into-the-showroom-and-tick-a-box car, the Mitsubishi Evo X FQ400.

On first glance it appears to have had an accident with the Halford’s parts department and come out with lots of garish plastic add-ons. On second glance you’ll notice wings on wings, carbonfibre front spoilers and a centrally mounted rectangular exhaust. This is not a car that blends into everyday traffic.

Inside the FQ400 there is less of the add-on garishness, though the bass box of the Rockford Fosgate sound system in the boot is carried over from the other highly specced Evo X models. But analysing the looks and wincing at its appearance is not the point of this car; it is about pure A-to-B speed, and boy can it do this well.

As a massive rally fan growing up with the North York Moors and Dalby Forest as my playground I have a natural predisposition for this sort of car. But I was always one to fall on the Subaru side and, with them being the most recent factory team competing, I still stick with that bias. Off the special-stage, Subaru’s last road car that really hit the spot was the RB320 and I really loved that car. It would take something special to top that, and our old long-term FQ360 never managed to outpoint the RB320 in my rally-nutter affections.


But this car is no FQ360. Sitting behind the wheel of the FQ400 and starting the engine, you suddenly get a feel this car is something else. There’s none of the aural numbness of the 360, with a low growling exhaust note reverberating around the car. One you would expect to hear on a forest gravel stage, and with the overrun pop you would associate with a fire-breathing rally monster.

The suspension has been lowered and the track widened, livening up the chassis response and leaving you more engaged in the driving experience. The steering response feels more accurate than the FQ360’s, and this gives you more confidence to attack roundabouts (or any other non-straight bits in your way) much harder than you’d think possible. The roll that was found in other Evo Xs has been eradicated and, with highly rigid, lightweight Bilstein dampers and Eibach coil springs on each corner, the car has the predictability that lower-spec versions really could do with.

Point it in a straight line, flex the right foot and you are bounding over tarmac as quick as many supercars. Hitting 60mph in 3.8 seconds feels quicker with the accompanying soundtrack from the four-cylinder, turbocharged 2.0-litre lump. Add to it the lower ride and some sticky Toyo Proxes R1Rs and this has to be one of the quickest vehicles over UK’s miles of B-roads.


The surprise with the FQ400 comes in the form of fuel efficiency. Despite being eye-wateringly quick and leaving your insides pushed firmly against your rib cage while cornering, it has good fuel economy. Well, that is relative, but compared with the slightly less muscled FQ360 it averages a good 2mpg better when gunning across country. Though Mitsubishi have purposely tuned the engine to deliver improved emissions and be a little less thirsty while adding the extra 40bhp, so maybe it should be expected.

It may save you money on fuel but the initial outlay won’t do. I always equate cars to their potential purchase if my lottery numbers ever appear. This car is one I would have to shortlist for a first trip to the dealers when the cheque arrives, but – and this is a big one – I think I would have to have multi-millions to justify spending £50,000 on an Evo X with bits cut out. In my non-lottery garage I would still choose the Impreza RB320.



 

Author: RacingPete