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Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII vs
Subaru Impreza WRX STi 

Broadcast dates : 17th July 2005
23rd July 2005

Gugu Zulu makes his debut on Car Torque this week with strong credentials as a race and rally driver. 

And the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII has an equally impressive pedigree. 

At last, the Evo VIII, as itís affectionately known, has arrived in South Africa.

Inside, carbon-look dash inserts and brushed metal panels donít quite make it in the Evo. 

It has a dated interior without much retro appeal.

This Japanese company has been expert in turbocharging for decades.

The in-line four-cylinder engine doing duty in the Lancer Evo embodies state-of-the-art performance technology. 

It also produces prodigious low-down torque for a turbocharged engine.
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII
The Subaru Impreza STi needs little introduction. It also enjoys a great reputation in the turbo field, and its flat-four boxer engine has legendary durability.

Subaru has gone to some lengths to rid the STi of a Common or Japanese Garden look inside. Cloth and leather sports seats add an appealing touch, as do the brightly-coloured door panels, the leather-trimmed gear-lever and handbrake lever.
Subaru Impreza WRX STi
Interestingly, both engines weigh in with identical power peaks of 195 kilowatts.

The difference in engine design gives the Lancer a different feel and sound to the Subaru. It uses a five-speed transmission, whereas the Subaru comes with a six-speed Ďbox.

Both cars employ road-orientated four-wheel-drive technology for outstanding stability and grip. And both have road-holding and performance in the supercar division.

Four-wheel drive road cars are noted for a tendency to understeer at the adhesion limit. In this respect the Lancer Evo VIII serves up a big surprise.

Turn the steering wheel and it simply darts for the apex of a corner. In fact itís almost, but not quite, a tail-out car, but with tremendous reserves of cornering ability. It also imparts loads of confidence to even a relatively un-skilled driver.

Subaru still needs to dial out some understeer on the Sti. This tendency to wash the nose out still dogs the Subaru at race-track speeds.

This nose-push occurs despite the fitment of a graduated, adjustable diff-lock program known as DCCD that makes the STi more pointy.

Of course, at road speeds, the Subaru is superb, with leech-like grip, making it an awesomely quick, but predictable handler.

The uninitiated may well confuse the Evo with the STi, thanks to skirts, spoilers and outlandish wings common to both cars.

In fact, the Evo is more stylish in essence, once you get past the gizmos. Both cars are wolves in wolf-cub clothing.

The Evo VIII may make do with a five-speed gearbox, but it outguns the Subaru for torque. It has 355 Newton metres at 3500 revs, and runs a 0-100 in a claimed 6,1 seconds.

But it feels quicker, at least Subaru-quick. Top speed is a claimed 245 kilometres-per-hour.

That distinctive Subaru warble is music to the ears. 0-100 was tested by Car magazine at 5,2 seconds with a 234 kilometres per hour top speed.

Our own repeated first-gear roll-on drag races at Wesbank saw the two cars run absolutely neck and neck. Nothing to choose between them in straight-line performance. As for road manners, thatís a different story.

The ride on the Lancer Evo 8 comes as a bit of a shock. Weíre talking thoroughbred race-car here, with virtually no "give" in the suspension whatsoever. The same goes for the leather-covered race seats. 

The Subaru is a Rolls Royce by comparison in the waftability stakes. Spring and damping rates are more than firm enough for road use, but there is a degree of compliance that makes this car much more liveable on a daily basis. 

Nevertheless the Mitsubishi and Subaru offer real-world five-seater accommodation with supercar performance. Along with Nissanís Skyline GTR, theyíve turned the performance market on its head.

On paper the cars are so similar, but experientially they are quite different. The Evo is the uncompromising street fighter, crisper through the steering wheel, mechanically sharper in all aspects really, but somehow lacking in overall finesse.

The Subaru, on the other hand, has an indefinable charm thanks to that boxer gravel voice. Its interior is more complete, its ride feels more sorted, despite understeer in extremes, and that thoroughness goes for the whole car.

Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII
  • Engine: Four Ė Cylinder, Turbocharged Petrol, 1997cc
  • Power: 195 KW @ 6500 rpm
  • Torque: 355 Nm @ 3500 rpm
  • Transmission: Five-Speed Manual, Four-Wheel Drive
  • 0Ė100 km/h: 6,1 Seconds (Claimed)
  • Top Speed: 245 KM/ H
  • Fuel Consumption: 13,4 litres/100 km (Claimed)
  • Price: R395 000
Subaru Impreza WRX STi
  • Engine: Flat-four cylinder, turbocharged, petrol, 1 994 cc
  • Power: 195 kW @ 7 800 rpm
  • Torque: 343 Nm @ 4 000 rpm
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual, all-wheel-drive
  • 0-100 km/h: 5,21 seconds
  • Top speed: 240 km/h
  • Fuel consumption: 13,9 litres/100 km (Car Magazine figures)
  • Price: R385 000
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