The Evo X may have come over all urbane with its new sheetmetal, but don’t be fooled- its still raw, an incorrigibly edgy handful that feels truculent ay any speed below flat-out. Get into the Mitsubishi and you instantly feel genetically programmed to set new speed records. Around the track, both cars are eye-wideningly brisk but it’s the 354bhp Evo that easily feels the faster. That engine may be new from crank to camshaft, but nothing has changed because its still muscular and rangy-and still coarse and gruff. There’s no red-line aural treat, but that matter less when there’s so much muscle to spear along the track. The X has that on-the-go stance no other car can match- that of being both tied down and on tiptoes, riveted to the road but ready to change direction with neck-straining immediacy. And it’s just so fast. Don’t underestimate the entertainment value of a tinny family car that can breathe hotly on the collar of a Porsche 911. Like the Impreza, the Evo feels like a precise machine, with many parts- positive gearshift, powerful brakes, superb steering- working seamlessly together. But while the gearshift quality is sweet and precise, who the hell wants to lash out more than 35 grand on a car with just five forward gears? Even a Vauxhall Corsa comes with a six-speed ‘box for goodness’ sake.
That final gear wouldn’t be so badly missed if the five in there weren’t so short- brilliant at keeping the engine buzzing at its 6500rpm power peak around Anglesy, not so brilliant when an 80mph motorway cruise equates to a raucous 4000rpm. The Evo has all the Impreza’s lightning pace and sublime dynamics, but it also has the ballsy presence and attitude to suit- and you will spot what the Impreza lacks every time one drives by. That’s why Mitsubishi wins.