This 345bhp, 321lb ft 2.0-litre car demands to be driven hard: top speed of 157mph; 0-62mph in just 4.3sec. But more than that, at motorway speeds this car deceptively feels like it is pottering around. There’s a very real danger of looking down to find you are exceeding three figures.
Motoring offences aside, this latest generation of Mitsubishi’s venerable Evo continues from where the VIII left off, but with prices unchanged, it offers even greater value for money.
The FQ-340, priced £32,999, is the most explosive version both off the mark and through the gears. A revised turbocharger with increased diffuser and a retuned engine gives a flatter (more usable) torque curve.
Also new are the Evo IX’s revised grille and bumpers, and redesigned light clusters. The weight has dropped 11kg by replacing the space saver spare wheel with a tyre inflation kit.
Cornering is improved over the VIII by shortening the rear springs, enabling Mitsubishi’s Super Active Yaw Control system to function better – though, in truth, few drivers will notice the difference. The rest of the electronic gadgetry (active centre differential and sport ABS, which form part of the four-wheel drive system) is carried over.
Mitsubishi calls the Evo “the everyday supercar”, which is fine – to a point. It can accommodate a family of four, possibly even five, plus luggage with relative ease (the boot holds 530 litres), but rival Subaru could justifiably argue that the same tag could be applied to its Impreza.
And the Evo suffers from a heavy clutch pedal. Drive around town everyday and you’ll have leg muscles to shame Linford Christie’s.
So while the Evo IX can do the family thing, that’s not the foremost thought in buyers’ minds. It’s a funtime car.
The IX has just over a year to curry favour in the showroom: arriving in 2007 is an all-new, radically different Evo that will herald a new phase in the car’s evolution.
Strengths: Power, handling, performance, five seats
Weaknesses: Heavy clutch pedal, servicing every 4,500 miles
Opportunity: Steal sales from Subaru
Threat: Traffic police
The USP: The wildchild of sports saloons
Engine: 2.0-litre 345bhp at 6,800rpm, 321lb ft
Performance: top speed 157mph; 0-62mph 4.3sec
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Efficiency: 21mpg est; 334g/km CO2
CAP RV: £13,650 (42%)
Rivals: Subaru Impreza, Audi S4, Mini Cooper S, BMW M3, S2000, Mazda MX-5