| First Drive | Millbrook, England| Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X FQ-330 SST |
Four Lancer Evolution models exist, but until now only the lowest powered - speaking relatively of course - FQ-300
model came with the ability to shift ratios with your fingertips. Not now though, as the FQ-330 is now offered with the paddle-shifted SST transmission, which not only adds control just a finger waggle away, but an additional ratio over its five-speed manual alternative.
In the Metal
Lancer Evolutions are not quiet cars in any sense. If you want discreet then look elsewhere; the Evolution X is about as subtle as a heavyweight boxer in a pink leotard. About as bulging and muscular too, the Evolution FQ-330 SST wearing its performance potential with real intent. There's a rawness to its looks, the Evo a brawny street-fighter of a car that's got the confidence to overtly exhibit its ability. If big tailpipes, plentiful lights and a tarmac sniffing splitter aren't your thing you'll hate it, but if you've grown up playing GranTurismo on the Playstation then the Evo X is likely to cause you to go a little light headed.
Interiors have never been the Evo's forte and despite a fascia shared with its Outlander
relative it's still not up with the best of the European competition. Shinier than they should be plastics and hard surfaces are plentiful, though at least it now looks like someone's actually styled it in comparison to the haphazard fascias of its older relatives. Who cares though: the steering wheel feels chunky, the seat holds you tightly and the paddle-shifters are just a short finger pull behind the wheel away.
What you get for your Money
Three hundred and twenty four bhp from a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine mated to a very sophisticated four-wheel drive system: that's what you're paying for. Mitsubishi cleverly gathers all the yaw, stability, traction, braking and differential control systems under the single Super-All Wheel Control name - or more usefully just S-AWC. And it does pretty much what it says. The engine's power is distributed to the wheels that can use it most, the S-AWC giving the FQ-330 SST quite incredible poise and pace. In addition to that you'll find all the kit you'd expect in something costing £35,999, such as a Bluetooth connection, a premium stereo, hard drive satnav, an auxiliary input socket, air conditioning and Xenon headlamps.
The FQ-330 drives just like all its other Evo X relatives, which is to say it's explosively fast and has eye-widening levels of grip and traction. What's new though is that SST dual-clutch transmission, which makes accessing the FQ-330's pace even easier. Use it all and it'll accelerate to 62mph in 4.4 seconds and reach an electronically limited top speed of 155mph. That's more than enough performance for anyone, the FQ-330 SST feeling much quicker in first gear thanks to Mitsubishi removing the torque restrictor to allow the full effect of its acceleration from a standing start.
The gearshift works well with the FQ-330's extra power, the cog-swapping executed with real deftness even under full load. While manual transmissions are usually our preferred means of shifting for their interactivity and control, the SST system really suits the Evo's mad demeanour, it dishing out cogs as quickly as the engine eats them up with its prodigious power. There's an extra one to choose from too, the SST bringing along a sixth ratio to play with.
Grip is phenomenal, the Evo's natural stance being neutrality in the bends unless you enter with too much speed. Do so and understeer builds, though there's oversteer on demand if you want it. Hugely fun, the brakes are never less than sensational and the performance never gets boring, though you'll tire quickly of stopping for fuel if you're prone to using it all.
The FQ-330 SST is initially offered as a Post-Registration pack on the current FQ-300 SST variant, Mitsubishi stating that once the current eSVA regime has been replaced by the new IVA regime, the FQ-330 SST will be available as a model in its own right, as per all other Evolution products.
Perhaps the sweetest engine output and transmission combination in the Evo X range, the FQ-330 SST has taken a while to arrive, but it's been worth the wait. Scintillating performance matched with fingertip control for just £3,000 more than the FQ-300, it's the most rounded Evo X you can buy, though the thought of the 360 or mighty new 400
with the same transmission is a tantalising one indeed.