Hello, Top Gear!
I'm a great fan of Top Gear Philippines and I would like to seek your expert advice. I have long been interested in joining uphill competitions being held in our country but I don't know which car would be the best choice. I am a WRC fan and I believe AWD is the best way to go uphill because of the added grip and better torque distribution than a RWD. The Mitsubishi Lancer Evo and Subaru Impreza both have good racing heritage and reputation and everything I read about them seem to make them equal.
Which would you say is better choice for me in terms of performance (with uphill in mind) and tuning? I hope you'd help me solve this dilemma.
If you're an Initial D fan (I am... Hehehe!) this line from the leader of the Emperor Lan-Evo Club should be familiar to you: "The Lan-Evo is King of the Mountain Pass." Or something like that.
From a competition perspective, nothing beats a Lancer Evolution. It has always been sharper, more precise and more aggressive-feeling.
With the available Bilstein MR suspension, the Lan-Evo makes you wonder why you'd need aftermarket coil-overs particularly for the hillclimb. FIA-spec bucket seats, a bolt-in six- to eight-point roll-cage and a proper four-point harness (preferably FIA-certified 3-inch wide harnesses), a fire extinguisher bolted in, and you're all set.
But this is looking primarily at serious track and competition use in mind. If you plan to use the car significantly for daily driving, the Impreza WRX STI is much more refined and a bit luxurious.
In terms of power, the STI makes more of everything everywhere, thanks to its 2.5 liter engine, but tuning the EJ254 engine is very finicky. Getting serious power out of Mitsubishi's 4B11 powerplant is far easier.
Suspension-wise, Subarus have always excelled in poor surfaces like mud, rocks, and sand because there is ample suspension travel and movement from its MacPherson front and multi-link rear suspension. But from the factory there is just too much pitch, squat, dive and roll from the chassis-and-suspension setup. Even with coil-over suspension, you need to buy a lot of other suspension bits that alter geometry to prevent it from exhibiting big chassis movements on tarmac. An Evo doesn't have any of these problems. But then an Evo also does poorly on off-tarmac events relative to the Subaru.
If serious competition and track use is what you have in mind, I'd suggest getting the Evo IX instead of the X. The IX is lighter and the 4G63 with MIVEC is far more easily tuned and is cheaper to repair or replace than the still-new 4B11 engine. Plus, the IX will be cheaper too. Used examples are floating around for about P1.5 million to P1.6 million. Get the five-speed manual as the six-speeder on the Evo IX MR and GSR isn't as robust for serious motorsport use. The gearset is physically smaller than the five-speeder and the five-speeder is what is homologated for Production WRC/Group-N use.
I know I sound biased since I owned and competed briefly with an Evo 4 RS for eight years. I must've tracked that same Evo 4 about 30 times at the Batangas Racing Circuit and the Subic International Raceway. I love Subaru's STI, too, but the Evo has always felt sharper, more incisive and more composed. An STI, however, will be much more comfortable and less tiring to use especially everyday in traffic.
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