MOTOR MOUTH: Aggression on four wheels

MOTOR MOUTH: Aggression on four wheels - If Mitsubishi were a person, we would diagnose bi-polar personality disorder. It makes some of the dullest cars that have ever existed. Trades Descriptions should prosecute the Carisma, while even teams of experts cannot decide what the Space Star is for. One sight of a Galant and you enter a woozy state of irrecoverable Transient Global Amnesia. These cars suck the light out of the universe and earth all sparky neurological activity.

by STEPHEN BAYLEY, an author and design consultant
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

If Mitsubishi were a person, we would diagnose bi-polar personality disorder. It makes some of the dullest cars that have ever existed. Trades Descriptions should prosecute the Carisma, while even teams of experts cannot decide what the Space Star is for. One sight of a Galant and you enter a woozy state of irrecoverable Transient Global Amnesia. These cars suck the light out of the universe and earth all sparky neurological activity.

Yet Mitsubishi also manufactures the very desirable Shogun, as well as the hunky Warrior for the Caterpillar boot set. And the category-shattering Evo VII FQ300. To quote Eddie Cochrane, that most perceptive of consumer psychologists, this car's sure fine lookin', man, it's sumpin' else.

Actually that's not quite true. The Evo is not at all fine looking, if fine means exquisite, though it is certainly not boring of aspect.

A deadly dull Lancer has been mercilessly flared, perforated, tucked, squatted and ventilated with semantically aggressive orifices. Behind the hole in the chin, scarcely hidden by some no-nonsense mesh, is an oil radiator with a union the size of your forearm. This is there for expressive purposes. And the expression is two words of four and three letters, the first beginning with 'f' and the second with 'y'.

Round the back there is a wince-making aerodynamic device not unreminiscent of a Fokker Triplane, and an exhaust of dimensions that would be familiar to those habituated to unusual sexual acts with elephants. It is hideous, but if you want respect in Catford on a Saturday night, this would be a legal alternative to firearms.

Only a certain personality type would be attracted to the Evo, and that type is revealed by the name. Evo is a contraction of 'evolution', a reference to the phased engineering processes that turned a boring Japanese car into a rock-hard, snorting, radical, totally uncompromised wheeled system for winning rallies. And I am afraid 'rally' is the giveaway. To the dismay of manufacturer and sponsors, rallying remains - with the exception of banger racing at Wimbledon stadium or ram-raiding Newcastle shopping malls - the most proletarian of motor sports. All those people standing in Welsh mud at dawn, awaiting a cross Finn to spray them with gloop. This is not a sophisticated milieu. Indeed, the sight of a Mitsubishi going sideways is about as close as these folk will get to participate in any evolutionary activity.

So, why would those of us paddling in the deeper end of the gene pool want such a silly car whose reference points include padded jackets and adjustable shock-absorbers?

The answer is simple. For pounds 31,495 there is no more sensational performance it is possible to buy. Now, it is true that performance comes at the price of total social exclusion, both general and particular (my wife did not speak to me for the entire week the Evo was on loan), but some will be prepared to pay the bill. If you were thinking of buying an elegant BMW 330d coupe (one of the very nicest of cars), you would not be persuaded by the Evo (almost certainly the nastiest); but this is like saying you enjoy Telemann or Gluck and have no time for gangsta rap. In fact, it is exactly like that.

The Evo asks and fails to answer many questions about taste and propriety, but in the area of dynamics there are no buts. Your BMW money buys an extraordinary 305bhp (from 1998cc!), a four-wheel drive system with a centre differential that allows a choice between 'Tarmac, Gravel and Snow', which in turn allows a selection of cornering behaviour ranging from the merely terrifying to the 'are we still alive?' sort. Acceleration is like those things they use to test ejector seats, and this menu of out-of-body performance experiences is delivered to a chassis that stays amazingly flat and stable in all dimensions. You get soundtrack too. Visiting friends in Alfriston, they claimed we were audible by the time we got to Lewes.

The interior, apart from the superb race-style seats, is joyless, with no concessions to delight or cultural interest: the radio display shows, for a reason I couldn't determine, an animated cavorting dolphin.

But you do not go to gun clubs to soak up nuances of interior design. I entertain some high-minded doubts about the morality of the Evo, but if you want bangs-for-bucks, here is an explosive force.

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