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Long term tests

Mitsubishi Evo X FQ-300 SST

Our affair with the Evo is showing the strain as its fuel consumption continues to bite

I drove a Mitsubishi Evo VII automatic once, called a GT-A. This was a deeply schizophrenic car. It still had much of a regular VII’s looks, toned down a little, but inside it had flatter, higher, leather-clad chairs and was missing that important left-foot pedal. Its gearbox was a five-speed, torque-converter auto with a Tiptronic-type manual override and shift buttons on the steering wheel. The suspension was more supple than normal, too.

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What was the point? To make the Evo into some sort of executive express. Yet with the connection between driver and the mechanics of driving severed, the Evo’s point as a pleasure machine was lost. Instead, you passed your time gazing at the naffness of the cabin plastics.

Our long-term Evo X with its twin-clutch SST triggers similar thoughts, although it retains the proper seats and the visual toughness. Yes, it has real paddle-shifters and its gearshifts are usually more definite than that old auto’s, but sensation is deemed less important than potential shift speed and that, for a road-car pleasure machine, is wrong. It shouldn’t be about saving fractions of a second on a trackday lap time, because we’re not in a race. It should be about driver involvement, the subconscious, split-second timing that gives you total control, the need to see and feel the gearshift process through and not just activate it. So I seldom bother now with the paddle-shifting, not least because the Evo needs so many shifts with its ultra-short intermediates. It just isn’t satisfying.

Some new cars with DSG-type gearboxes score lower CO2 figures than their manual counterparts, causing DSGs to be hailed as the all-purpose planet-saver. Not so. In the artificial environment of official test-drive cycles a DSG might do better, sometimes simply because they have more gears and a longer-legged top: how else does a new 911 PDK get down to 225g/km?

In the real world it’s different, and the SST/DSG seems to be no economy help whatsoever in the Evo X. You’d think a 12-gallon tank would be big enough, but at a typical 20mpg I seem to be forever filling it up even if I drive gently. Where does all the fuel go? Can the engine really be that inefficient?

I’m not using the Evo as much as I should be. That’s because I resent the savage fuel cost incurred in not enjoying it much. Sometimes, on a really good, twisty road, it becomes a marvel. Other times I can’t quite see the point. Just like that old Evo VII GT-A.

Running Costs

Date acquiredApril 2008
Total mileage4293
Costs this month£0
Mileage this month293
MPG this month20.7
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