As I am an only child I have a bit of a problem when it comes to attention – I’m always seeking it. This however is socially accepted as ‘only child syndrome’ so I think I can get away with it. Unfortunately I can’t seem to get away from the fact that I am the most un-photogenic person on the planet, so I won’t be draped over the bonnet of a new Mitsubishi anytime soon. In any crowd, at any party or social occasion you can think of I’m there, in the front gurning uncontrollably in front of the camera.
Just a few years ago this wouldn’t have been much of a problem as the photos would be condemned to the family photo album or remain imprisoned on a friends’ memory card. Nowadays with the advent of social networking sites such as Myspace and Facebook I’m splattered all over the place looking ugly as sin.
Short of some drastic facial surgery or being pinned to the ground and forced to remain solemn I’ve been struggling to think of how to get attention whilst maintaining my dignity and not pulling stupid faces in public. The good news is I’ve found the answer, it comes from Japan and is now in its tenth incarnation: the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X (That’s ten in roman numerals to the uninitiated).
The Mitsubishi is undoubtedly a brilliant car as it appears on the showroom floor, but I’m a big fan of history and heritage and the Evolution models have a more extensive and impressive lineage than most. Formula One has always been accused of lacking excitement and being controlled by computers more and more as the years go by. The world of rallying however couldn’t be more of a polar opposite, sheer cliff drops, mud splattered cars and windscreens, sheep causing spectacular crashes and the only navigation the drivers have is a petrified co-driver reading the directions from a clipboard.
This is where the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution models come in. For years the Evo and its arch rival the Subaru Impreza slugged it out on the rally circuits before resuming round two on the public roads. For me though it was always Mitsubishi who I waved the flag for and in particular Tommi Makinen, who won the World Rally Championship four times in 1996, ’97, ’98 and ’99 – every time in his Mitsubishi. It was a time when I was a young teenager developing my love of cars and the sight of Makinen winning the championship in Wales of all places will stick with me forever.
Perhaps now you can see why I’m so passionate about the latest Lancer Evolution, although it’s not purely based on my boyhood memories. In recent years the Mitsubishi/Subaru battle has moved firmly into Mitsubishi’s favour with Subaru’s stylists’ seemingly going blind judging by the exceedingly ugly cars it’s produced. Mitsubishi on the other hand has toned down (ever so slightly) its aggressive styling, made the Evolution one of the best handling cars money can buy and then stuck a price tag on it that undercuts anything that could rival it by at least £40,000.
The Evolution X is pure PlayStation generation styling with big wheels and spoiler, a front grill that could plough through snow and headlights that give the car the look of Mike Tyson in his prime. However it is still a more subtle offering than previous models and the more grown-up feel continues inside. Yes it’s not the most inspiring cabin I’ve ever seen, it’s a typical workmanlike Japanese offering rather than Italian flair, but crucially everything on the X is far better quality than its elders.
Whereas build quality may have been in question previously, performance certainly wasn’t. Needless to say, the latest model doesn’t disappoint, with the snappily titled Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X FQ-360 GSR the one in the range to plump for. In fact it’ll get from 0-60mph in a mere 4.1 seconds, which is a damn sight faster that 99 percent of the competition and much faster than you can say it’s name.
Yet despite this Ferrari beating performance the Mitsubishi’s best feature is how it handles. The most accurate way I can describe it other than that overused word ‘perfection’ is to say it manages to handle like a rally car should but won’t break your spine on the shopping run either. It is a racing car for the everyman (or woman). Well if the everyman (or woman) has £37,999 spare. Yes it’s not cheap initially but when you’re beating Ferrari’s with the wife in the front, two kids in the back and your shopping in the boot having paid at least £70,000 less than Ferrari man you’ll see where I’m coming from.
Besides with the credit crunch I’m hoping the prices will plummet on used versions. I just hope I can cope with all the attention I’ll get.