Five reasons why the Subaru WRX STI is better than the Mitsubishi Evo X
Subaru vs Mitsubishi, the clash of two rally-bred legends – Here is my take on why the WRX STI trumps Lancer Evo hands down.......
The Evo versus STI battle has been running since almost the dawn of time, or the 1990s as it’s known as. Now, after nearly two decades of waiting, I can proudly say that I have driven the final generations of both the Mitsubishi Evo Lancer X and the Subaru WRX STI.
I got my wheel time with the Lancer Evo X back in 2014 as part of a group test. I remember at the time being hugely excited about it. The reality though was very different as my FQ-300 test car proved a massive disappointment in part due to its six-speed TC-SST gearbox, but ultimately because of the overall driving experience and those rather bland looks.
Last month I was finally able to complete this circle of former WRC heroes by bagging myself the final (UK & Europe) Subaru WRX STI for a week. Yes, the WRX STI is not perfect, but for me, it is a whole world better than its Japanese rival by a country mile and then some.
Here are five reasons why I think the Subaru WRX STI beats the Mitsubishi Evo Lancer X hands down.
Flat-Four Boxer character beats a standard turbo four-pot any day
A brilliant thing.....
The turbocharged flat-four boxer motor found in the WRX STI is an ageing unit; it’s pretty much been around since the age of the druids. But when compared to the Evo, it boasts a character that’s leaps and bounds ahead of the unit found in its rival.
That signature boxer burble is familiar to most car enthusiasts from a mile away. When you hear it from a distance, you just know its a Scoobie.
By comparison, the Evo emits an engine note that’s about as interesting as wallpaper paste. All in, the most memorable thing about the motor was its distinct lack of character.
Turbo lag allows you plenty of time to reflect on bad life decisions
Where is the turbo at?
Sticking with the engine theme, the Evo was very guilty of throwing more power at it in an attempt to cover up this total lack of character. The FQ300 I drove actually had 295bhp which gave it a frenzied turn of pace. Before you could access all of this pace though, there was an issue, a ton of horrid turbo lag.
In the FQ-300 model, the lag was so terrible that I had plenty of time to reflect on my terrible life decisions. Amazingly, Mitsubishi also built an FQ-330, an FQ-360 and an FQ-400 version, all of which I can only assume took literal days off your life waiting for the turbo to arrive.
In the Subaru though, the power output has remained similar aside from the rare special versions such as the ‘RA’ model. In my test car, the flexibility of the 297bhp on tap was pretty much the near perfect amount for all scenarios. As minimal turbo lag is a good thing, and at the end of the day, you can give a car a million horsepower, but it doesn’t make it a better car.
Flappy paddle gearboxes should not be allowed in cars of this type
The thing that should not be
In the FQ300 I was met with the horror that is the TC-SST dual-clutch gearbox. It’s a six-speed unit that possesses all the finesse and accuracy of a very wet and smelly shaggy dog. In so much that it can only be described as shuddery and idiotic at low speed, blindingly stupid at actual speed (once the turbo showed up), meaning that fast or slow shifts were all a bit turgid leaving you wishing for a manual.
It also had a habit of ignoring the driver's request for gear-changes at the first or even second time of asking. Subaru also tried an auto box in the STI for a while, mercifully it didn’t catch on.
But after spending time swapping cogs in both cars, the six-speed manual in the STI is light years ahead of the idiotic box in the Evo X. Because driver involvement and not shuddering are important life goals.
Both cars evolved visually over the years, with the Subaru ageing vastly better
A way better design than its rally-bred rival.....
Back when Tommi Mäkinen put his name to the sixth gen Evo, the car had that iconic rally-bred look about it with all of those sharpened aggressive lines. By the time that the Evo X rolled around though, it had lost all of its presence and visual impact thanks to a softer looking design giving it a bit of a beige ‘just another Japanese saloon car’ look.
Admittedly, the Subaru has had a few questionable redesigns over the years (hatchback anyone?), but with the final version of the car, the designers got it spot on. It carried forward the correct amount of design history from the iconic models of old (read as, bonnet scoop and rear wing) while having more than enough visually aggressive presence that you instantly know it’s a WRX STI.
The Evo X makes you feel like a passenger, rather than a driver
No involvement required whatsoever......
Now for the single biggest problem with the Evo X, the way it drives. Somehow the designers gave it brilliant steering and suspension with virtually no feedback whatsoever.
Instead of being involved in the driving, the car pretty much does it all for you - every single time without fail. This meant that you feel like a passenger in the Evo X, rather than a driver with the car deciding that it doesn’t really seem to need you.
In the Subaru though, it’s a very different story. Both the steering and gear changes require driver input as it properly involves you in the business end of driving it. The WRX STI makes you work to get the best out of it when attacking B-roads or any stretch of twisty tarmac, which makes for an immersive and thoroughly involving drive.
Do you agree with my viewpoint in the age-old WRX STI versus Evo battle? Vote below, or let us know in the comments.