Evo FQ-360: 2,990 miles

First report: We’ve upgraded to even faster Mitsubishi – but is it a better car to own?

  • I can’t get enough of the FQ-360’s storming performance, which is all the more enjoyable with the extra control of a manual box. On a track it offers amazing poise and grip, too. Plus, I’ve been surprised by the ride quality – it’s far better than that of the Evo IX.
  • My faith in the Evo’s reliability has been shaken by the dodgy battery and gearbox replacement. I was also less than impressed by the dealer’s courtesy car! Economy is dire, particularly on motorways.

It’s a tale of two Evos – and one that’s taken many twists and turns! When I waved goodbye to my Mitsubishi Lancer FQ-300 SST in November after six months of hassle-free motoring, I was really looking forward to seeing how its replacement, a manual FQ-360, would shape up.

As the badge suggests, the new car is more powerful, with engine management tweaks helping it deliver 354bhp. That means it’s six-tenths of a second faster from 0-60mph, taking 4.1 seconds. Plus, the FQ-360 gets extra carbon fibre trim, with a low front splitter and roof spoiler.

Inside, more carbon fibre trims the pedals (which are really slippery with wet shoes) and gearknob. Another change is the transmission. The FQ-300’s twin-clutch semi-automatic SST set-up can’t handle the power or torque delivered by the FQ-360, so the new car gets a five-speed manual. To be honest, I’d been getting tired of the SST anyway – while gearchanges are smooth, it dulls throttle response, and the paddles don’t provide the feel of a crisp manual shift.

In the first few weeks with WX58 GJO, I was enjoying the extra power – while the FQ-300 was fast, the FQ-360 is incredible – and loving the manual’s added control. But as it’s a five speed, motorway cruising is a bind and one niggle wasn’t going away: a slightly gritty shift.

Still, a more immediate issue required quicker attention: a faulty battery. I’d noticed that it was getting weaker and weaker, and then one day it went completely flat. Mitsubishi’s recovery assistance firm was excellent, getting me going again within 90 minutes of the fault occurring, but a test showed the battery was simply not holding its charge. 

The Evo needed its initial 1,000-mile inspection, so I booked it in at my local main dealer, Hummingbird Motors, in Colindale, North London. I was promptly given a rather dented 60,000-mile, 2001-reg Mitsubishi Carisma as a courtesy vehicle...

Before I left the garage, I explained that the Evo’s gearbox wasn’t changing very sweetly and asked for it to be looked at. Two days later, I got a call to say traces of metal filings had been found inside the box, indicating a bearing fault. As a result, the whole unit had to be replaced.

Thankfully, the work was carried out under warranty and the car was ready within a week.

So, is it now back to full fitness? Well, the transmission is better, although it’s still not as slick as the box in an Evo IX.

And that’s part of the problem with the X. It’s a stunning performance car with masses of grip, poise and ground-covering ability, but it’s just not quite as much fun or as focused as its predecessor.

Let’s just hope I can concentrate on the driving experience over the next few months – and stay away from Mitsubishi dealer workshops!

Second Opinion

had I known the road from Calais to Chamonix was an arrow-straight 550-mile stretch of motorway, I might not have grabbed the keys to our long-term Evo so eagerly for a road trip to France.

The Mitsubishi has a myriad of talents, but they don’t include motorway refinement and economy. I averaged only 21mpg for the drive – although when a car has the acceleration of an Evo, all it takes is a prod of the throttle when pulling away from a toll booth or exiting a service station to get you grinning from ear to ear.

Jack Rix Motoring writer

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