Mitsubishi Evo X

Meet Evo-Man! Armed with a cape and blue tights, he’s the ideal driver for our Mitsubishi Evo x – a car that easily transforms from mild-mannered commuter into manic mile-munching superhero

  • STYLING: It’s far from subtle, but I love the angular front end. HANDLING: There’s lots of grip, throttle adjustability, direct steering and a composed ride. PERFORMANCE: The gearbox and engine combination brings incredible, easily accessible pace.
  • ECONOMY: At just 18mpg with a 55-litre fuel tank, the realistic range is only around 220 miles. QUALITY: Better, but not up to BMW 3-Series standards. The rear doors make a tinny noise. PRACTICALITY: With no split-fold rear, space in the boot is somewhat compromised.

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s the latest arrival on our long-term fleet – the Evo X! If any car reminds me of Superman and his alter ego Clark Kent, it’s the latest incarnation of Mitsubishi’s rally-bred, four-wheel-drive supersaloon.

Unlike the previous Evo we ran at Auto Express, the newcomer really does have a superhero split personality. It’s mild-mannered, thanks to improved refinement, comfort and a new twin-clutch semi-automatic gearbox.

Yet it’s also manic, with a host of technical updates including a stiffer chassis, overhauled four-wheel-drive system, more torquey engine and even better handling.

Our car is the GSR SST FQ-300 variant, which costs £31,999 and has the new twin-clutch Sport Shift Transmission (SST). Hooked up to the 291bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged engine, it’s an impressive piece of kit. There has been some criticism that SST is more like a fast automatic than a snappy manual, but I’m a big fan. It’s very smooth in town and with the torque boost – by around 5Nm to 407Nm – the Evo X is surprisingly tractable.

Short-shifting using the steering wheel-mounted paddles at low speed becomes second nature and, with near instant gearchanges, you find yourself opening up gaps in traffic without even trying.

And unleashing everything at the test track is simple. Flick the centre console switch into Sport mode, drop a gear and hit the throttle. The Mitsubishi lunges forward, searing its way to the 8,000pm red line, ferociously racing through the six gears.

It’s an incredibly fast car, and now that the engine is smoother and noise levels lower, it’s even easier to reach high speeds without realising. At least the new, larger speedometer is clearer to read, though! Inside, those Recaro sports seats are really comfortable, hugging your shoulders in the right position.

Another personal highlight is the way the transmission blips the throttle on downchanges. Combined with easily modulated and awesomely powerful Brembo brakes, you can concentrate on setting the car up perfectly for tackling the next bend.

And this car loves corners. The steering is direct and full of feel, while the balance of the chassis is sublime. There’s very little body roll which, combined with razor-sharp turn-in and amazing grip, helps you to negotiate the average British B-road with ease. The ride is no longer crashy, so the whole car feels supple and stable.

It’s not perfect, though. There’s still plenty of tyre noise, which reduces the Evo’s appeal on the motorway. That’s where the Rockford Fosgate stereo (with 30GB music hard drive) has to work for its money. The interior is much classier than before, but quality could be better in places and while there’s decent room in the back, the boot is shallow.

I’m a keen cyclist and as there’s no split/fold in the rear seat, I can’t fit my bike in. And the boot doesn’t have a handle on the inside, so you get grubby fingers whenever you close it.

We’re averaging 18.3mpg and after 4,000 miles, some hard driving in Wales on a recent group test (Issue 1,008) has caused the service light to come on. Still, I love the Evo X. It’s more grown up than before, yet just as much fun.

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