There’s a lot to be said for good seats, and the gorgeous new smoke-grey leather and Alcantara Ralliart bucket jobs are the first thing you notice when you assume the position in this, the new Mitsubishi Evolution VIII FQ330.
That’s right: 330, which means those crazy folks at Mitsubishi UK have squeezed yet another 30bhp out of that originally 276bhp turbocharged and intercooled 2.0-litre twin-cam engine.
And another special edition is no surprise; some 90 per cent of UK Evo buyers opt for the up-specced FQ300 over the standard car, so it seems the extra grunt and extra kit formula works. A supplementary ECU and revisions to the wastegate actuator to increase boost pressure from the FQ300’s 1.3 bar to 1.4 bar provide the extra bhp. And that’s not all – there’s a further 15lb ft of torque arriving 500rpm higher at 5000rpm.
On the road you don’t immediately notice the change. But there’s more torque from around 2000rpm – which means going from 50mph up to a shade over the legal limit is an effortless surge in top – and with peak power coming in 600rpm later, the 330 just seems to rev and rev, giving more power the whole time.
A quick thrash in a 330 with less than 1000 miles on the clock left our 5000-mile FQ300 seeming a little jaded, and Mitsubishi reckons Evos get even quicker the more miles they put on. Certainly Mitsubishi’s 0-60mph estimate of 4.7sec seems conservative, particularly as we set a 4.4sec time in an FQ300 for this year’s 0-100-0 challenge.
Apart from the engine tweaks, the FQ330 remains standard Evo underneath, which is no bad thing. Although despite the obligatory tail and side badging and numbered plaque by the gearknob, it would be nice to have at least a set of tastier alloys to highlight the fact that you’ve forked out £5k more than for a standard Evo. Still, the 330 offers the same bag of tricks as its lower-powered brethren: exceptional grip, thanks to the active centre diff and awesome Yokohama Advan AO46 tyres; understeer-free and roll-defying handling, courtesy of the inherent balance and active yaw control; magical steering, eye-bulging Brembo brakes and a ride that’s not only surprisingly reasonable for a car of its abilities, but which also gets better the faster you go.
Inside, things do feel a little more special. Your extra £3000 buys you a SmartNav satellite navigation system with live incident reports and predictive traffic data (not fitted to our test car) and those handsome Ralliart seats, which are just as supportive as, and a little comfier than, the standard fare. They also add a touch of class to a cabin that already feels that bit more special and better screwed together than an Impreza’s.
While it may not offer an enormous difference in pace over the 300, the 330 delivers its extra power in a surprisingly linear fashion. And when you consider that to get the power upgrade from 300 to 330 spec costs £1500 plus around £110 fitting charge at a Mitsubishi Ralliart dealer, the SmartNav is a £689 option and that lovely leather/Alcantara trim is another £1534.66 (total: £3833.66), just opting for the 330 is a bit of a no-brainer, if you’ve got the money.