'Have punters lost interest in Evos?' I asked Mitsubishi UK boss Jim Tyrrell last week. No way, he countered, saying that he already has 250 orders for the Evo X, only seen so far as this concept.
With that in mind, I took an Evo FQ-360 home last night. And it had a profound effect on me. Indeed, this morning, I eagerly planned my drive to work (back roads, naturally) as I was shaving.
I'd forgotten just how sensational the Evo IX is to drive. Sure it's a blunt instrument, without the nuances of an M3. But to drive it is to love it. The rack is so quick to turn in, I almost kissed the first roundabout. Floor the throttle, and be pinned back as the 2.0-litre turbo surges to 8000 revs, with a fantastic, raspy exhaust note filling the cabin. Bang through the so-short gearchanges, which demand a meaty shove (and that's a good thing). And marvel at the chassis' incessant stickability. It made me feel like Toni Gardemeister, and I dreamed I was driving Rally GB, not commuting through Lincolnshire.
Sure these cars have an image problem: the stereotype is that they're driven by youngish hooligans, like a getaway car. And the Evo is absolutely fit for that purpose, come to think of it. Other negatives? The current design plumbs new depths of user-unfriendliness: no external boot release, an aftermarket stereo where you have to fiddle with 20 microscopic buttons simply to play a CD, and a turbo gauge handily positioned almost in the footwell.
But the new Evo – the X – will surely right all these wrongs, and introduce the far funkier design pictured. So long as it maintains today's awesome driveability – no guarantee with a completely new engine, essential to meet the latest emissions regs – then I for one can't wait for the new car. How about you...?