Yet another FQ car from Mitsubishi - aren't these faux-rally cars a bit out of favour at the moment?
True, but after ten minutes behind the wheel of the UK-only FQ360, you’ll wonder why. It's an absolute belter. Utterly driver-centric, unfeasibly fast, with incredible body control, excellent damping, and superb steering. To cap it all, it has four-doors-and-a-boot practicality. It may not be the flavour of the day, but there's no denying the Evo's supercar-slaying qualifications.
Always the same with an Evo. What makes this one really special?
Its sheer drivability, in a nutshell. While the majority of the FQ line-up major in frenetic redline acceleration, the 360's 4G63 2.0-litre engine has been retuned to deliver massive mid-range punch, without sacrificing any of its high-rev potency. A completely reprogrammed engine management system - three months of non-stop key-tapping by the boffins at Ralliart, Mitsubishi's go-even-faster department - as well as inclusion of a new high-pressure fuel pump system and a high flow catalytic converter results in 366bhp at 6887rpm and a huge 363lb ft at a lowish 3200rpm.
So it's brisk then...
That's probably the understatement of the year. The FQ is searingly fast. It'll crack 60mph in 3.9seconds. You'll need a 911 Turbo to better that. In-gear punch is just jaw slackening - squeeze the throttle and the Evo leaps forward with scant regard for physics. Factor in the Orwellian control of its all-wheel-drive system, indefatigable, dustbin lid-sized front and rear ventilated Brembo brake discs, super-sticky Yokohama Advan tyres, slick six-speed manual box and loquacious steering - all carried over unchanged from the FQ340 - and you can hustle the FQ360 down any road way faster than you thought possible.
Okay, but what happens when I just need to trundle down to Waitrose?
You just, uhh, trundle. The 360 may be able to unleash eyeball-flattening speed at the slightest whiff of throttle, but it doesn't have that brittle all-or-nothing power delivery that makes other FQ models tiring to drive on a daily basis. That mountain of torque spread throughout the rev range means you can just stick in the higher gears and cruise around at much lower revs knowing ferocious acceleration is an ankle flex away. That all-alloy engine is incredibly tractable. And the Mitsubishi's ride quality, although firm, is beautifully damped and never feels crashy.
It looks pretty fearsome…
It's not subtle, agreed. FQ fans will quickly spot the 360's carbonfibre front lip that provides additional high-speed down force, as well as that surfboard of a tail wing, rear air diffuser and 'shark's teeth' roof spoiler that smoothes air over the body at speed. Chunky 17inch lightweight WRC-style Speedline alloys and a huge bonnet vent complete the visual upgrade. But don’t worry - the fashion police will never be able to catch you.
But my bank manager will, I'm sure…
No need, so long as he's an understanding petrolhead. At £35,504 the FQ360 is, given its massive performance, phenomenally good value. And you get plenty of gear: leather Recaros, climate control, additional Ralliart dials to monitor turbo boost, battery voltage and oil temperature, and plenty of safety equipment. But don't even ask about fuel economy or CO2 tax, and expect insurance to be cripplingly expensive.
The FQ360 is the ultimate Evolution IX, the perfect swansong before the X arrives at the end of next year. Despite its prosaic looks it is, for the money, the quickest point-to-point car in the country. Sure, your 911s, Caterhams, Elises and M5s could all challenge it, but when you throw in a bit of inclement weather, the need to carry more than one other passenger and a sensible asking price tag, the FQ360 kicks them all where it hurts. We love it, fashionable or not.