During my formative years, I read one of the first road tests of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VI.
The car fascinated me, with its jutting bodykit, soup-bowl foglights and aggressive rear spoiler, so I was very keen to find out if the way it went lived up to the way it looked.
The engine starts with a muted thrum and pulling away feels a little uneventful. For all its rally heritage, the Evo VI feels easy-going and benign pootling around town. But that impression changes as soon as I get a clear run up the slip road to the motorway. It’s like that moment in Star Trek when the order for warp speed is given. There’s a pause while the ship gathers itself before, finally, distorting and stretching off into the distance and vanishing in a flash. That’s how it feels in the Evo VI. When you floor the throttle pedal, there’s just enough time for the tendrils of anticipation to curl their way round the pit of your stomach, before all hell breaks loose.
Yes, the seat really does shove you in the back. What’s more, you feel your rearmost neck muscles tense to hold your head forward off the headrest as, whooshing and growling, its nose lifting slightly, the Evo takes off up the road like it has had an incendiary device lodged deep within its loins. Impressive as the 0-60mph time is, you have to remember that, up to about 3000rpm, the Evo hasn’t even started to come on song yet. In other words, once the turbo kicks in, it feels faster even than the figures suggest.
All this before you get to a corner, too. Traction and grip are immense, yet this is nothing like the experience a modern four-wheeldrive performance car gives you. Where they allow you to smash the road into submission, the Evo moves like a professional dancer, whirling and twisting up the road at an ever faster pace, yet each move precise and controlled, its feet always placed perfectly, just where they need to be.