When telling a joke, you rarely open with the punchline. Similarly, if you read a book, there are very few that will open with ‘The End’. I’m not sure why, but whenever I read a paper, I start at the back and work forwards. Whenever I read a book, I read the opening paragraph and then skip to the end to see how it ends up. It infuriates my wife so maybe that’s why I continue to do it, but I’m going to do a similar thing here.
On the recent trip to Wales with the Subaru RB320, we also went with this Mitsubishi EVO IV and without a doubt, it is the better car of the two. It pisses all over the Subaru to be honest with you. It handles better, it’s more responsive, it’s more rewarding and personally, it has a better stance too.
So, in summary, we had a blast, the roads were epic, the car was immense, the trip was ace and the Mitsubishi wins all. Close the book. Walk away. We’re done.
Well, clearly, we’re not because there was a lot more to it but if you wanted to have a summary of how it went, you’re done. If you’re interested in knowing how we got to that point though, plough on. I’ll try to keep your interest.
Firstly, when we arrived in the midlands and discussed the cars we were taking, I’ll admit, the thought of being in the Subaru appealed. The seats looked comfier than the huggy Recaro’s in the EVO and, as I’m starting to make noises when I sit down or stand up, comfort is paramount. I reckon a few more weeks and I’ll be shuffling around in moccasins.
But the owner was quite clear, he was taking the Subaru. Turns out, his reason was he had calls to make and bluetoothing the phone was his favoured way rather than the three-point inducing old fashioned way of just using the phone in his hand. Which he would have to do in the EVO. It still accepted cassettes in the stereo so we could understand the technology gap.
Within the first one hundred yards, we could see he was on the phone but we didn’t care because we discovered what we would be listening to on our journey to the valleys; the turbo. Give this car some loud pedal and you’ll experience a slight turbo-lag which is not so apparent with some new cars. Here, at around 1500rpm, nothing happens and then it spools up, the rev counter becomes a blur and scenery is pushed past the windows akin to hitting light speed in Star Wars. Changing gear is accompanied by the instant slowing of the turbo resulting in the car sucking in air. Not the sound emitted when you take your car for a long overdue MOT or that of a workman pushing back his hard hat and about to give you an estimate. No. This is more erotic, more visceral and emotional. So much so that when we hit the M6 and M54 the yearning to get off and take a long route through Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Stafford etc was appealing. Time, alas, did not allow but getting onto the A5 at least gave us an excuse to drop the box for some of the most pleasing overtaking yet.
Winding into the Welsh scenery gave you a little time to realise something that starts to make you really smile about this car. It has such an amazingly well engineered feel to it. This is not a new car. It is not a low mileage car, yet the steering was as responsive as a go-kart and the gear change as tight as an MP’s expense claim. We’ve driven brand new, box fresh cars that have more play in them than this.
It wasn’t until we headed through some of the twisty sections across the border that I realised those Recaro seats are actually very comfortable. Supportive, of course, with their deep, sculpted side supports but the other thing that helps; they’re not leather. Admittedly, I’m in no rush to have velour make a return to car interiors anytime soon, but is it too much to ask that interiors be made comfortable? These are sports seats yet having recently had the misfortune of driving a new Vauxhall Corsa that seemingly had material draped over concrete, these are like sitting on a very comfortable fat lass.
We pulled up outside of Betws-Y-Coed for a chat about the driving route and climbed into the Subaru for the sighting drive. Immediately, you noticed that it was not a step forward. Sure, the stereo was better, but even as a passenger, you can feel that this is a wallowy, middle-aged turd that is going to tell you how good it was in the old days whereas the Mitsubishi was simply the good old days.
After a few tours around the areas in both cars, the smile had to head home but again, thankfully, he needed to make some more calls on his journey so we had to stay and play with the EVO and then take it home when we were ready.
Turns out though, that until that day, the owner was getting ready to sell the EVO because day-to-day practicality had meant the RB320 was his go to car. This was evident as it had a baby seat in the back, the signs of family life, phone chargers, paperwork, receipts, sweets, wrappers, drinks all the things that we allow to clutter up our daily life. Meanwhile, the EVO was spotless. Nothing here to see apart from the magic tree air freshener. All else was stock.
Once we’d pulled over in a far forest corner to catch up and discuss how he’d enjoyed himself before heading home, a unanimous result came in. He loved the EVO. He couldn’t believe the difference between the two. It was genuine surprise given how he had resigned himself to selling it. We had a proper discussion, walk around the cars, bonnets opened, interiors discussed at length, foibles mentioned.
Eventually, he needed to make a move home for he was on new person duty with a small baby at home. We, fortunately, were left with the better car and a delightfully warm setting sun. Watching the sun head behind Snowdon and feeling the warmth leave the evening with the EVO sitting in front of us was a fitting end to a very good day.
And this is the whole reason for what we do here. Go elsewhere for lap times, tech specs, impossible to achieve 0-62 figures, drag races and burnouts. Not to say that we don’t love those just as much as you do but what we want, all that we live for, is to drive cars that make us feel something and then meet up and talk about it. Whether it’s a hypercar, supercar, souped up car or a battered old lemon, we don’t care because if you love it or have a passion for it, bring it over.
Unless it’s that Corsa. Because that was just shit.