In this opening paragraph you'll read the same words that have been used far too many times here. Let us show you a simply brilliant automobile that excites almost anyone who considers cars more than mere transportation. Unfortunately, this car won't be coming stateside and therefore you'll never be able to own it.
What are we doing wrong that our access to such rare and prized cars such as this EVO X FQ-400 hasn't been granted? Who must we bribe? Surely, there must be enough individuals in this country who would jump at the opportunity to buy a four-cylinder turbocharged sedan that rivals Ferraris and Lamborghinis in performance.
Even so, we're sure the bean counters over at Mitsu have done the math and it doesn't add up from a profit sales point. Forget profit for once and give us a car that the rest of the world will cry about not getting. An FQ-450 perhaps?
It would be very, very easy to slate the FQ-400, the most extreme model in the already potent Mitsubishi EVO X lineup. Who needs 49 bhp more than the already potent EVO X FQ-360, you might wonder. Aren't those new strakes and vents and that trapezoidal exhaust rather vulgar? And why spend an M3-rivaling $70,000 on a four-cylinder pocket rocket?
But you know what? I totally and utterly love this car, something that's even more surprising considering I came over all lukewarm after living with both the FQ-300 and FQ-360 for six months.
Just like FQ-300, 330 and 360, the FQ-400 is a UK-only special, born from parts supplied by respected Japanese tuner HKS, and backed by a three-year/36,000-mile Mitsubishi warranty. The extra power comes from high-flow fuel injectors, a new hybrid turbo (strengthened to deal with faster turbine speeds and higher temperatures), a new intercooler, plus re-mapped engine management. The headline figures are 403 bhp, 387 ft-lbs of torque and a 3.8-second dash to 60 mph (FQ-360: 354 bhp, 363 ft-lbs of torque, 4.1 seconds).
And, yes, the first improvement you notice is the power, but it's not the amount (which isn't actually that noticeable without a back-to-back drive in the FQ-360), it's the delivery. You might expect a highly strung four-cylinder turbo to be laggy at low revs, yet this lump responds eagerly, pulls cleanly from a little over idle speed, gets a hurry on from 2000 rpm and leaves tailgaters warp-speeding backward from 3000 rpm onward. It also boasts a more progressive, more civilized deployment of power than the nothing-nothing-ka-boom I experienced in the 360, though there's a less-civilized, stronger turbo whoosh than before and at certain frequencies, a lentils-shaken-in-Tupperware backing track that I don't recall.
It's doubtless the improved progression through the rev range masks the extra power, something in part proven when I found myself squirting for overtakes on familiar roads that would have been off the menu in other EVOs. Yet it's not just the power delivery that transforms this FQ. The suspension is lowered by 30mm with Eibach Springs and Bilstein shocks, the track widened and new cut-slick Toyo tires fitted to new lightweight 18-inch wheels. Fortunately, these tweaks leave the ride feeling no firmer than before, but the steering is much improved with a less darty response off-center and a more measured translation of what's happening at ground level as you wind on the lock.
The new Alcon brakes seem more relaxed in their responses while delivering stopping power that's at least a measure for the Brembos offered on every other FQ-it makes the center pedal just a little easier to modulate, something that combined with the engine and chassis mods make this über-EVO a more satisfying, fluid drive than its siblings.
Sadly, the FQ still can't stretch to the full five-star rating, but that's not a reflection on its dynamics, which are resolutely top notch. No, what counts against it is the interior with its off-beam ergonomics (the excellent bucket seat is perched too high and the steering wheel won't adjust for reach, leaving the shorter-limbed to experience the essence of an airboat ride across the Everglades), the unsatisfying 5-speed gearbox (the dual-clutch transmission isn't offered on anything more powerful than the FQ-330) and that M3-chasing price. Yet this is a compelling proposition, whatever your preconceptions.
Before I drove this car, I already had a conclusion rattling around in my brain. It went something like, "Save $14K, stick with the 360 and, if you really have to have more power, go the aftermarket route."
Bad news, FQ-360 owners: the 400 is better in every respect. The frankly absurd power is delivered with a carefully honed finesse (so much so that you can believe Mitsubishi's "500 hours of ECU development" claim) and the dynamics are subtly and significantly better without drawback. Whether the FQ-400 is worth the extra money is largely subjective, but the improvements are very tangible and very tempting.