By Nick Jones
Looking as menacing as ever in its new body, the Mitubishi Lancer Evo X has moved the game on even further.
The previous nine generations were all very good cars, each one showing vital improvements along the way; but the new X (or ten) is different – both aesthetically and in how it drives.
Gone are the deep front spoilers, high-plane rear wings and incredibly large bore (and rather loud) exhausts.
In their place come less overstated versions, and no loud thump from the rear on acceleration and when changing gear.
I quickly came to like the square front end with slim headlamps, the huge air intake and offset number plate (still).
Down the sides the colour-coded mirors and door handles helps the lines.
There are still four doors, this remains a family car despite its performance.
At the rear there is a diffuser, which helps air-flow out of the back of the car, and twin exhausts instead of the usual single outlet.
Compared with the older cars, the rear spoiler looks positively tame, but this car isn’t all about the looks. Indeed, the older siblings were somewhat ugly things.
But it was the performance of this animal that stirred the the soul.
The car has always been the beauty and the beast under one skin, not pleasing on the eye but offering performance and road-holding that were wonderfully attractive.
I tested the FQ-330 version with 330bhp, a 0-60mph time of just under five seconds and a top speed of 155mph.
With these high powered, turbo-charged four-cylinder engines fuel consumption is never going to be brilliant but the X, you might be surprised to learn, can get 30+mpg on a shopping run.
The astonishing grip and poise from the four-wheel drive remains, as is the break-neck acceleration once the turbo reaches full boost.
With the centre differential, active yaw control and new, advanced, stability control only the incredibly foolhardy could let this car get out of sorts.
Also new is the rather good SST transmission which is a semi-automatic six-speeder. It can be marshalled with paddles for greater feel if you prefer.
Truth be told, leave this Evo in automatic and it’s still devastatingly quick... and it does all the work for you.
The handling is rock hard and fidgety, but that’s because the car is stiffly sprung to give it it’s startling handling.
And the brakes – Brembo’s fore and aft – are immensely powerful and fade free.
Supercar it is not, but I’ll tell you this – a good driver (not in a straight line) would probably get the Evo from A to B quicker than any Lambo or Ferrari.
Standard kit includes bi-xenon headlamps, Recaro front seats, remote central locking, electric windows and mirrors and 18in alloy wheels.
In the cabin, the X feels more mature than the IX version or any of its predecessors.
There’s something quite special about driving one of these cars and I’m not sure what it is. Whatever, you’ll enjoy the lovely seats even before you’ve turned the key.
Everyone needs to have a go in an Evo, and if you’ve driven every genre like I have, you’ll appreciate as things progress technology-wise.
It still goes like stink but the looks aren’t quite as brash as the last version.
I for one can say that I smile every time I drive one.
Prices start from just £30,504 and rise to nearly £38,000 but in terms of value for money, its right up there.