Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X FQ-400 saloon (2008 – ) first UK drive
Monday 23 March 2009
Fastest. Most accelerative. Most extreme. Three of the superlatives used to describe the hottest Mitsubishi yet – the Evo X FQ-400.
But the figures its produces are more helpful. Nought to 62mph in 3.8 seconds, top speed limited to 155mph, 403bhp, 387lb/ft and a £50,000 price tag.
Stuart Milne gets to grips with the most awesome Evo yet.
Say what you like about the FQ-400’s noise, styling or handling. It’s simply impossible to get away from the face-melting performance.
Incredibly it only gives 0.15 seconds away to the £400,000 Ferrari Enzo.
But the G-thrills aren’t over by the time the ‘400 hits 60mph. Its mid-range acceleration is hugely fierce, climbing from 60 to 70mph in a blink of the eye.
Its five manual gear ratios are closely stacked, and once the engine has warmed the gearbox oil rending the notchy gearbox smooth, is a pleasure to use. And that’s a good thing, because you’ll be using them a lot.
While there’s plenty in the tanks to enable the FQ to fire up the road in any gear there’s little point in spending an extra £10,000 over the FQ-360 to potter about.
Fast, grippy and poised
It’s not perfect though. There’s a bit of turbo lag below 2,000rpm, although it’s better than the previous ‘400, in which the turbo was either working hard or not at all. It manages to feel more progressive than you’d expect for a big-boost 2-litre.
Through the bends it’s pure Evo. Fast, grippy and poised. The steering is a little lighter than we’d hoped, particularly around the dead-ahead, but it offers huge amounts of feedback.
It has a 20mm wider track for improved stability and has been lowered on Eibach springs and Bilstein shocks by 30mm at the front and 25mm at the rear. That helps it feel less pointy than lowered powered Evos and that’s great for inspiring confidence.
The ride is surprisingly good, but the firmness and prodigious power means that it’s easy to get the ESP lights flashing when cornering hard on bumpy roads. But fortunately the Toyo Proxes R1R tyres, which look little more than cut slicks, provide enormous grip; although we’d recommend taking it easy on them in the wet.
Like all Evos, the FQ-400 comes with an electronically clutch, active yaw and stability controls and sport ABS as well as S-AWC, which tweaks the safety systems depending on whether the car is driven on tarmac, gravel or snow.
Despite generating more than 201bhp per litre, we were able to return 28mph-plus, although a hard drive will easily drop the car into single figures. Road tax is among the highest and don’t expect bargain insurance bills.
Your £50,000 not only gets you a slug more power and performance, but the respect of other Japanese car spotters. Those in the know will notice – and love – the bespoke carbon fibre splitters and diffusers and extra vents in the bonnet. A huge centre-exit exhaust is reminiscent of the Lamborghini Murcielago, and almost as tuneful.
For the dedicated Evo buyer, this is undeniably the ultimate Evolution, but at £50,000 it is perilously close to the Nissan GT-R. Think of it as a supercar at a quarter of the price, and it makes sense.
As an exercise in making a good car great, Mitsubishi has worked wonders.
Model tested: Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X FQ-400
On the road price: £51,499
Price range: £49,999-£51,499
Road tester: Stuart Milne