Steering Column 05.06.09

Why oh why not?

When I drove Mitsubishi’s Lancer Evolution X FQ-360 around Wales and England earlier this year I thought there’s nothing more you need from a performance car. I thought 354bhp was enough power and 4.1 seconds was plenty quick enough to reach 62mph from a standing start. Seems I was wrong.

Tweaking, tuning and twiddling away by twilight, the magicians at Mitsubishi have developed an even more potent giant-slayer. It goes by the moniker of the FQ-400.

The lightweight aluminium engine has a turbocharger pumping up the two-litre block to an impressive 403bhp and 387lb ft of stump-pulling torque. Ripping up Tarmac with all four driven wheels it will reach 62mph just 3.8 seconds after takeoff and smoke on up to 155mph before the speed limiter cuts in.

The now somewhat diminutive-looking 360 had plenty of cornering ability but Mitsy tells us the 400 has an even wider track and lowered suspension to make it better still. Lightweight 18-inch alloy wheels shod with Toyo Proxes R1R tyres … which is probably a very good thing indeed, I expect. So there!

The bottom line is all sorts of stuff has gone into this beast – among them a new type of turbo, high-flow injectors, an enhanced intercooler to condense the air going in and a three-inch calibre exhaust pipe to let the smellies out. As Spiderman’s uncle would say: “With great power comes great responsibility”, so the brakes have been upgraded too.

And the number of the beast? Cough up £49,999 and it’s yours. Sounds like a lot but you could buy a Lamborghini sports car for four times that – yes four times that – and you’d still be crossing the sprint line in second place.

Prices pinned for Prius

Toyota’s latest version of its hybrid-car-for-the-masses, the Prius, will go on sale for pretty much the same price as the outgoing model.

The T3 and T Spirit models will be exactly the same but the mid-level T4, with a bit more kit than before, will be a tad more costly – £835 more costly to be exact.

The big selling points of this combined electric and petrol-powered car will be its impressive 72.4mpg official average fuel consumption figure (up 10 per cent on the outgoing model) and its free road-tax disc.

The main improvements over the last car are a 24 per cent boost in power, a slightly quicker sprint time to 62mph and the new techy stuff that will make your passengers either coo with wonder or bore them rigid as you explain it in detail.

The heads-up display that projects all the important data onto the windscreen will be a talking point for sure … but I’m not sure I really want that myself – your call!

Prices begin at £18,370 for the T3, rise to £19,990 for the T4 and top out at £21,210 for the T Spirit.

Five star Soul

Kia is celebrating the news that its head-turning, boxy little hatchback known as the Soul, has been declared a fine, safe car to have a crash in.

Okay, maybe that’s overstating it but the “urban crossover” car has been awarded the coveted maximum five-stars in the Euro NCAP crash tests that are the industry standard.

It scored 87 per cent in its adult occupant protection test and 86 per cent for child protection.

Come the wicked day, passengers and driver are protected by a steel bodyshell, roll-over strengthening, front and side airbags, whiplash protecting headrests and seatbelts that grip you safely back into the seat till the action’s over.

If you have to crash in anything vehicular this weekend, the above Soul from Kia would be as good a car to do it in. It has just been awarded the maximum of five stars.

Mike Grundon


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