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Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution FQ-400

Road Test

Mitsubishi Evo X FQ-400

Driven September 2009

Additional Info

This is the new Evo FQ-400 and it costs £50k. Fifty. Thousand. Pounds. You need to get your head around that shocker straight off the bat because it's BMW M3 money and this, even with its whistles and bells, is still a tuned Lancer.

But it's faster than an M3. Faster than a 911. Not far off the Turbo in fact - it'll crack 60mph in 3.8secs and, in the hands of Average Bloke, is certainly the quicker across country.

And there's the second surprise - it's easy to drive. Like all the FQs before, the 400 is a UK-only model tuned by Mitsubishi after it gets off the boat. That means every car starts out standard, then gets a couple of bits bolted to it and the boost wound up. We were expecting lots of lag and then whining... and then for hell to break loose, catapulting you half way into infinity.

Not so. Not the wait-all-day lag bit anyway. There is a bit of hesitation while the turbo wakes up but the power's there from around 2,200rpm - and by the time 3,000 arrives you're well on the way. That progressive delivery stretches right around to the redline, too, so you don't have to worry about whether you'll be off-boost once you hook the next cog. This car is fast, no doubt.

It'll never let you forget it, either. Unlike the ‘normal' FQs, the 400 feels like a modified car. Where the 360 makes quiet work of delivering its power, the 400 barks through the box, often firing a shot on the overrun that makes car alarms squeal.

And the FQ-400 looks modded too. The bodywork (inspired by the now-legendary Makkinen-edition Evo VI) features a wildly scooped and vented bonnet that leaves bejewelled bits of engine hanging out like proud cleavage. There's a lightweight front bumper with so much surface detailing it's hard to work out what shape it is and, at the back, a composite rear end with an exhaust pipe you could live in.

Ride quality is not quite so aftermarket. It's hard, for sure, but the FQ-400 has been treated to a 30mm drop, a wider track and uprated springs and dampers. It feels tighter and more direct as a result, but doesn't shake your hands numb on the wheel. For all the gravity-bending cornering you can do, you'll cheerfully live with it, put it that way.

So the FQ-400, despite all its excesses, is great to drive. And it's everyday fast. But £50,000? True, there's no subtlety to it and you definitely don't get the class or quality (especially in the cabin) you do from German kit with the same price tag, but that slightly misses the point.

What this is, you see, is the ultimate Evo X. No, scratch that, it's the ultimate Evo full stop. And it's got one foot in a world where owners don't think twice about dropping £15,000 on shouty bodykits and turbo upgrades that kill exactly the premium metal this car is up against. Think about it that way and you can understand some people paying the price. Even if ‘some people' doesn't include you.

Paul Regan

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