This pair of Japanese high-performance saloons have fought an intense rivalry since the early 1990s, taming many an Italian supercar and German super-saloon along the way to deciding their own individual battle.
They made rallying cool and socially acceptable again for the first time since the Group B era, making household names and heroes of the likes of Richard Burns, Colin McRae and Tommi Makinen along the way. The sport has not reached these highs since.
They made Japanese cars desirable, in an era of faceless Toyota Corollas and Nissan Almeras. They didn’t cost the earth either, offering a serious amount of bang for a moderate enough buck.
And they did it their way, development budgets purely being spent on maximising the performance and dynamic prowess rather than on luxurious interiors, fancy trim or unnecessary gadgets.
Perhaps I didn’t realise how much I’d idolised these cars when growing up until I was scanning the photos taken on my iPhone this year on the train last night. If you take a snap of all the desirable metal that arrives in the Autocar car park, the memory would soon fill up, so I’m selective in what I point and shoot at. After the Ferrari FF, the Evo and Impreza are my most papped cars this year.
But sadly they won’t be back next year. You’d struggle to fill a Tesco Express car park with the amount of Evos and Imprezas that are left new in stock in the UK, and neither Mitsubishi nor Subaru will be importing anymore in their current generation.
Yes, the world has moved on: there are better and faster cars than both now, and the interior just doesn’t really cut it anymore despite the honesty and integrity of it. And now both cars will be moving on too, with the high-revving, highly-strung turbocharged engines replaced with hybrid drivetrains.
Whether the pair can reinvent themselves and renew their rivalry for a new era remains to be seen, but the high-performance Japanese saloon rivalry as we know it is no more. Santa, if you’re reading this, I’ll have an Impreza P1 or Evo VI Makinen Edition in my stocking to cheer me up please.