I’ll always remember the first time I saw a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo in the UK for two reasons. First, because it was in the Sainsbury’s carpark in Kidlington, Oxford, where it stood out from the everyday stuff around it like a spaceship. And secondly, because it soon transpired – as he appeared pushing a fully-laden trolley – that it belonged to none other than Richard Burns, then Mitsubishi’s star rally pilot.
Of course, this was back in the mid Nineties, before grey imports had started to arrive, let alone the ‘official’ versions that Mitsubishi subsequently introduced. But even when Evos did start to come here in serious numbers – the ‘IV’ and ‘V’ iterations – the car still kept the same rally-bred cachet. It certainly replaced the Sierra RS Cosworth at the top of my own rally-replica wishlist.
Unfortunately, like a Hollywood movie franchise, Mitsubishi’s UK importer realised that – barring running out of letters and numbers – there was pretty much no limit to the number of increasingly extreme Evo variants that could be created on top of the numbered generations. Leading, I suspect, many of us to greet news of the arrival of an ‘FQ-400’ version of the Evo X with all the enthusiasm previously given to Police Academy VII.