Two of Japan’s giants are set for a showdown. Mitsubishi and Subaru are unleashing hardcore versions of their four-wheel-drive flagships.
Feast your eyes on the Lancer Evolution X MR and Impreza WRX STi Spec C. The Evo X MR – the badge stands for Mitsubishi Racing – gets a host of cosmetic upgrades, with extra vents and air intakes on the nose to improve cooling. There’s also a revised rear wing and side skirts, plus black alloys. The MR packs around 305bhp – that’s 20bhp more than the entry-level Evo X – which puts it on a par with the standard Impreza WRX STi.
Its 2.0-litre turbocharged direct-injection engine has been reworked to be more responsive at high revs, while still delivering plenty of low-down torque. This translates into a 0-60mph time of less than five seconds.
Although Mitsubishi offers more powerful versions of the Evo X in the UK in the shape of the FQ-330 and FQ-360, they’re only available with a five-speed manual gearbox. The MR comes with an uprated version of the firm’s SST twin-clutch transmission, which means it’s the most powerful paddleshift-equipped Evo X on sale. Mitsubishi’s engineers have also stiffened the bodyshell further in a bid to deliver even sharper handling.
But not to be outdone, Subaru has gone to town on the Impreza WRX STi. The Spec C edition has a mildly tweaked bodykit, including a rally-inspired roof scoop and the brand’s trademark gold alloy wheels. Most importantly, though, it has lost a lot of weight. As with previous generations of the Spec C, the newcomer gets a lightweight roof, aluminium boot, compact 12V battery, thinner glass and a smaller fuel tank. The revisions shed around 70kg from the STi’s kerbweight, so the Spec C tips the scales at 1,400kg.
Power upgrades for the 296bhp 2.5-litre turbocharged flat-four are expected to be minimal, but when combined with the weight reductions, the Impreza should rival the Evo X MR for performance. Both models are due to hit Japanese showrooms later this year. Official imports have yet to be confirmed, although grey importers are likely to bring the pair to the UK.
Meanwhile, Subaru is also preparing a super-fast Legacy, badged the S402. It will have the same engine as the Impreza STi, as well as a new six-speed gearbox and stiffer suspension. Topping things off is a racy interior with sports seats. The S402 should also be available via grey importers.