A lot of newsprint is devoted to horoscopes. You share your star sign with roughly 8.3% of the population and at any one time you’re bound to be going through some kind of relationship issue, some kind of money issue and perhaps a health concern. Maybe even someone from your past might come into your life this week. It’s all generic fodder for the masses, designed for the lowest common denominator.
The sheer sample size should see all measurements tend to some kind of roughly equal spread — you’d expect that a Capricorn or Libran would have the same chance of meeting a tall dark handsome stranger as a Virgo or Aquarian. But this isn’t the case for accidents. UK accident management company Accident Exchange studied 115,000 accidents and found that Gemini drivers (known for their impatience, apparently) made up just under 9% of all claims. Get to the point, Darren, I hear you Geminis say. Well, guess who is a Gemini: yours truly.
So, I thought it would be good idea to see if I could crash Mitsubishi’s Lancer Evolution X. Only kidding, I wanted to see if the Evo X would keep me safe and fly in the face of statistics (and other blatant lies).
The first sensation you get from driving the Evo X is one of technology harnessing a monster — the intellectual Castor and Pollux rising above the raw animal form; a beast tamed and shackled by pure processing power, sticky 245/40R18 tyres, Bilstein suspension, and reined in by massive four-pot Brembo brakes at the front.
Tickle the throttle pedal and the animal within rears its head until the active stability and traction control cut in. Just like Geminis, this car comes with moods, but three rather than the twins’ two. Normal is fairly benign, disappointing even. The SST dual-clutch automatic is lazy to change down, and the performance comes, eventually. It’s the cruising mode.
Change its mood to Sport by flicking a switch, and the Evo starts to show some irritation. You’ve called its sister a harlet, but not its favourite sister. All hell breaks loose when S-Sport mode is selected. Not only did you trample its mother’s flower beds, but you ran off with its wife. Savage lurches forwards are a toe-flex away; gear changes are as fast as blinking.
Available as a five-speed manual as well, once you’ve driven the six-speed twin-clutch auto you’ll probably come to the conclusion that there’s no point in having to have the inconvenience of a clutch unless you’re going to take it rallying.
The two models have unusually divergent specification. The manual has more torque by a considerable margin (422Nm vs 372Nm), but less power (206kW vs 220kW). The manual lacks the audio controls on the steering wheel, Rockford Fosgate 9-speaker audio system, and Bluetooth telephone integration of the automatic. The automatic is 15mm longer at 4510mm, and 75kg heavier at 1595kg.
With all that power and torque from the two-litre MIVEC engine you’re a shoe in for the traffic lights grand prix, but would you purchase an Evo, or its nemesis the Subaru WRX STI? On the track, the STI has proved to be quicker in many tests with professional racing drivers, but having driven both, you won’t notice this on the road, even with spirited driving, and you might buy the Evo because you prefer the styling over the beauty-challenged Subaru.
The Evo does feel marginally better to drive, even though the cabin is not as good as the Subaru’s. The Recaro seats are remarkably comfortable and keep your body in the right place while experiencing the g-forces, and you can create some significant ones given the right corners. The Evo X is as balanced as Libra. From the driver’s seat there’s nothing particularly spectacular about the dashboard, but the steering wheel, with its integrated audio, cruise control and Bluetooth phone buttons, is a delight to control.
Unfortunately there is no way of folding the seats forward, which limits the boot’s usefulness. The boot itself contains the Rockford Fosgate subwoofer, integrated into the side, which is capable of vibrating your trousers.
If you want to buy a car that’s easy to crash (like a Renault 5 or Peugeot 205 GTI), you’d better make sure you’re one of the safer star signs — a Sagittarius or Scorpio — signs that represent only 7.7% of accidents each. The Evo is a triumph for Geminis, especially with the twin-clutch. Any corner signposted 45kph or more is ok to take at 100kph. Braking is epic. There’s the power and grip to get you out of most situations. The Evo X is not a Scorpio — there’s no sting in its tail. It’s a car that, under almost all driving conditions, is virtually impossible to crash.
To read the full specifications of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X, click through to the next page.
Price: from $62,990 (manual), $67,990 (twin-clutch auto)
What we like
- S-Sport mode, especially with the paddle-shift gears
- Handling is sublime
- Seats hold you like King Kong held Fay Wray
- Steering feel
- Gearbox changes cogs in an instant
What we don’t like
- Small boot, and back seats don’t fold forwards
- Reversing isn’t easy with the car’s high shoulders and race-bred spoiler
- Fuel economy
- Occasional unexpected clunky downshift
Specifications – Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X (2008)
Displacement (cc): 1,998
Max power (DIN) kW@rpm: 220 @ 6,500
Max torque (DIN) Nm@rpm: 372 @ 3,500
Bore & stroke (mm): 86.0 x 86.0
Compression ratio: 9.0:1
Fuel type: 98 octane
Fuel tank capacity (litres): 55
Fuel consumption – L/100km: 10.5
CO2 – g/km: 244
Dimensions / weights
Overall length (mm): 4,510
Overall width (mm): 1,810
Overall height (mm): 1,480
Wheelbase (mm): 2,650
Track front & rear (mm): 1,545
Kerb weight (kg): 1,595
Turning circle (m): 11.8
Type: 6AMT TC-SST
Gear ratios: 3.655 ~ 0.775
Words and photos Darren Cottingham