“THE fastest and most extreme Lancer Evolution ever released!” That’s the headline-grabbing claim Mitsubishi is making about its new flagship FQ-400. Charged with getting the Evo back to the top of the adrenaline junkie’s wish-list, the range-topper has had some welcome drama injected under the bonnet.
The 2.0-litre powerplant has a remapped ECU, motorsport add-ons and a revised turbo – and the result is 403bhp! Fans will recall a hot FQ-400 version of the Evo VIII built in 2004, but with an over-tuned, aftermarket feel this car never made it into the marque’s hall of fame. Will its 2009 successor fall into the same trap?
Well, with bonnet scoops, carbon fibre trim and a bodykit, the new FQ-400 certainly gets noticed. It has immense road presence – and a burbling, popping exhaust note to match.
Unleash all of the Evo’s 403bhp and you’d better be ready. At first the turbo lag causes a marked lack of acceleration, but as the revs rise so does the immense surge in pace. Unfortunately, buyers still have to put up with a gearbox offering only five ratios and a long-throw shift. Making smooth changes isn’t easy – rival performance models have more accomplished transmissions.
Thankfully, the firm’s chassis know-how means staggering efficiency in corners. At first the light steering doesn’t inspire confidence, but lowered suspension coupled with a 20mm-wider track provides effortless cross-country pace. Add the abilities of the Super-All Wheel Control (S-AWC) four-wheel-drive system and the FQ-400 gives real confidence.
Despite a surprisingly soft pedal feel, the upgraded brakes are strong, helped by the super-grippy Toyo tyres. Even more impressive is the ride quality, which isn’t uncomfortably stiff. Only the FQ-400’s price will wipe the smile off your face – at £49,999, it’s £10,000 more than the FQ-360. It will take a true Evo fanatic to pay that!
Rival: Nissan GT-R
At £56,800, the mighty Nissan GT-R is well within the sights of buyers of the FQ-400. With its huge visual impact, supercar-beating dynamics and incredible pace, the GT-R is a tough machine to beat.
* Price: £49,999
* Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 403bhp
* Torque: 525Nm
* Transmission: 5-speed man, 4WD
* Top speed: 155mph
* 0-62mph: 3.8 seconds
* Economy: 17mpg (est.)
* CO2: 340g/km (est.)
* Equipment: Bodykit, centre-exit exhaust, vented bonnet, alloys, numbered handbrake, lowered suspension, sat-nav, climate control
* On sale: Now