Rally legends double test: Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI Makinen vs Subaru Impreza 22B

Later derivatives of the Mitsubishi Evo and Subaru Impreza was going to get faster and more powerful. They become more technologically advanced and, in every measurable or objectively, that would be better.

Here, however, is where it peaked. Released in a couple of years of each other in the early 1990’s, the Lancer Evo VI Tommi Mäkinen Edition and Impreza 22B STi are, by general consensus, the pinnacles of their respective races. They are the apex of the four-wheel-drive rally of the refugees.

From that five-year spell from 1995 to the turn of the century, during which Subaru and Mitsubishi dominated the World Rally Championship. The Evo VI TME and Impreza 22B STi to capture a moment in time and preserve it in aspic. But there is more to these cars than a cloying, bobble-hatted sentimentality? Box fresh examples of both, in the best roads in the Peak District and a blessed day dry at the end of January are all that we need to tell everything you want to know.

In the first place, the lesson of history. At the beginning of 1998, Subaru introduced a limited edition version of the Impreza WRX STi. Built to celebrate both the brand and the 40th anniversary and its third straight WRC manufacturers ‘ title, the 22B STi was considered as the production version of Subaru’s already iconic two-door World Rally Car. With its swollen wheel arches, the high-rise rear spoiler and an 80mm increase in width, was so close to Colin McRae rally car that any punter was ever going to get. It was not a homologation special, but more of a street replica.

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Between March and August 1998, 400 22Bs were built to Japan, with just 16 made in the uk and five in Australia. The uk cars were modified by the Subaru rally team, Prodrive, with a long end of the unit, miles per hour speedometer, and revised headlights. Before Prodrive could get to record the 16 cars in the uk, however, more than 50 ingenious Subaru devotees had the car imported from Japan.

The ’22’ in the model name refers to the engine capacity, which increased from 1994cc to 2212cc. Officially, the turbocharged flat four developed 276bhp, but the real figure is almost certainly started with a three. The ‘B’, meanwhile, stood for Bilstein, the gate provider.

At least, that is one explanation: if, by luck or judgment, 22B also happens to be the hexadecimal conversion for the number 555, the name of the brand of cigarettes that had long been Subaru’s WRC sponsor.

Other improvements include a double plate clutch and 17in wheels, up from the standard Impreza WRX STi 16in. The car cost a shade under £ 40,000 in the period, or about £70,000 in today’s money. No surprise that the majority of the viewers thought that a touch on the expensive side.

Mitsubishi retort followed at the end of 1999. With the Finnish driver Tommi Mäkinen having wrapped up a fourth straight WRC drivers ‘ title, Mitsubishi launched a limited-edition Evo VI to celebrate. More than a standard Evo VI that got lighter and faster-respond to titanium turbocharger, a lower ride height, a front shock absorber clamp, and quicker steering. Many of the key components came from the top of the line suppliers, such as the Momo on the steering wheel, wheels Enkei, Brembo brakes and Recaro seats embossed with Mäkinen’s name.

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During the two years of the TME it was on sale, over 3000 were built, so that it is far more common than the 22B. Maybe that is why you have to pay twice as much as for the Subaru today (a low mileage 22B will get six figures in the current market). At £31,000 new, the TME was more affordable than the gold-dust Impreza, too, and considering that the 22B was available in Sonic Blue or not at all, Mäkinen was offered in white, blue, black, silver, or, as here, in red with rally-inspired decals. Officially, 250 came to the uk.

On a cold Tuesday morning, long before dawn, the Evo engine is activated to a noisy, busy, inactive. With the fluid in the shock absorbers moving around like cement in a mixer, in this cold dawn, the hour, the low speed ride is hard and inflexible. The whole car falls heavily in a corner, and then the next, as you thud through potholes and sunken drain covers, the entire structure rattling in protest. With a bit of heat in the fluid, the trip did not resolve, but the real change comes with the speed. Beyond 50 mph or less, the car starts to plane and seems to levitate half an inch above the road. Instead of crashing and banging through the surface, slides – suddenly become so wonderfully flexible and forgiving that you’d swear that the suspension had been replaced wholesale somewhere between the third and fourth gear.

More than a parting, cheerful moors of the road, the impression you get is of the body to stay calm and serene as the suspension below work frantically to allow the wheels to rise quickly and fall in an instant, suspension arms is nothing less than a sigh. Unnatural features on the surface of the road making the referral your way through the body, but all of the natural shape and texture that you get in a road by the laying of asphalt through a soggy peat bog is dealt with masterfully. You don’t need to read the TME of the sales brochure to get to know his suspension had been tuned for a tarmac-based rally of the stage. When the road spears through the side of the hill instead of twist and turn on it and go to the fourth and fifth gears, the Evo feels nervous.

The chassis has a host of hyper-agility is about constantly pushing the steering wheel this way and that just to keep it in a straight line, the car is so desperate to turn in the corners that you try to do so, even where there isn’t one. This means that the TME will lead to enormous speed in a curve, before you start pushing, the adjustment in the changes of direction like a terrier chasing smells.

The limit of front-end grip is so well telegraphed that you hang the car right on the edge of understeer corner after corner, and although the steering has a strange elasticity to the right around the straight line, which happens to be bright, crisp, and detailed with a few more degrees of lock.

In the dry, Peak District roads, you would never know how much goes in the rear differential. In a wet or low-grip surface, you would feel Active Yaw Control by dragging feet of torque, here and there, but today, it seems as if the car has an infinity of drive and traction. The gear change couldn’t be better, and with five very well-stacked relationships that will bang through them as Manny Pacquiao throwing combinations. The car feels powerful in a wide-open throttle. Nothing happens until 3000rpm, but from there the engine rips around 7000rpm with the whole range of revolutions of the energy. There is No doubt, the Tommi Makinen Edition is a special car.

Parked along with the Impreza, however, it seems less exotic. That two-door Impreza, you will always be so evocative, even more so with the 22B is pumped-up arches. The Subaru has a much better seating position too; you sit lower, the steering wheel to the one presented within the most at your fingertips and in a natural angle. The seats, for its part, wrapped around the sides like a bear hug. You instantly feel connected to the car. As the Evo go stiff in low and medium speed, maybe a little less, but it also becomes around 50 mph to be brilliantly f luid and compound.

There is nothing like that in a straight line of address obstruction problems of the TME. In fact, the 22B steers wonderfully. Its faster rack – there is a small sticker at the base of the rear window that reads ‘Quick Steering’ – is perfectly suited to the rest of the chassis, which means that the place the car with precision at every turn.

While the Mitsubishi live in the front, the Subaru always feels more neutral. Turn into a corner and works instantly, the two axes, leaving suspended gently between them. It is an addictive feeling, and I don’t think that I never get bored with adjusting the center of the differential of the torque split by using the dial on the centreconsole. With a 10% more displacement, the 22B engine instantly feels more muscular than the Evo. In fact, the mid-range is almost unnervingly strong, throwing the car on the road as if fired from a cannon. With the limits established in 7900rpm, the Impreza motor continues to turn voluntarily at the point where the Evo is hitting your limiter. Subaru say that this car had 276bhp in the period is a colossal lie.

By a cigarette paper, I prefer the Subaru, but that could be a legacy of having been a McRae and Richard Burns fan in place of a Hilly supporter back in the day. Objectively, there is little between them. And while the nostalgics of the rally of connection is, without doubt, a big part of the appeal of these cars, it is not the whole story. What is more important still is that the Tommi Makinen Edition and the 22B STi are actually the Mitsubishi Evo and the Subaru Impreza at its very best.

1, Impreza 22B – Brilliant steering and chassis balance combined with a great turbo engine with a devastating effect.

2nd, Evo TME – Incredible agility, a characterful engine and supple suspension make the TME is the best Evo ever.

A Subaru enthusiast’s view

Adrian Spencer, the owner of the immaculate Impreza 22B STi used in our test, is the founder of Subaru specialist Adgespeed.

The company, based near Manchester, was established primarily to run Spencer’s own ex – Petter Solberg Impreza World Rally Car, but he says: “As a business, it is necessary to make money, so you also build and preparing rally cars for other competitors, as well as the maintenance and tuning of road cars.

“The System optimization of the scene is still quite active. Has been stable in the last 10 years. The older Imprezas are pretty cheap to make to see a lot of cars that have gotten involved with the. The people you are trying to edit without really knowing what they are doing. We do a lot of remapping, as well as engine rebuilds, fit bigger turbos and so on.

“In recent years, prices have started to pick up and as the older cars I think people will want to keep them in the original specification. If you want to conserve a Impreza to become a classic, it has to be the norm. I have seen people spend £30,000 optimization P1, for example, and the ones that are worth less than an immaculate standard car.”

Subaru Impreza buying tips

Click here for used Subaru Impreza WRXs

Whatever powerful Impreza that you are considering, make sure it has been properly taken care of. They all require a regular maintenance, with oil changes every 6000 km or so. The transmission and differential oil should be changed every 25,000 miles, while the cambelt should be exchanged after 45.000 miles.

The turbo should always be allowed to warm up and cool down gradually, so ask the seller what their driving habits. The clutch, meanwhile, can be done in a little over 40,000 miles.

Click here for used Mitsubishi Evo VIs

Five Imprezas to buy – for every budget

TURBO 2000 (1996) – Now known as the ‘classic’ Impreza, in the mid-1990s Turbo-2000 is the cheapest way in fast Impreza the property. With more than 200bhp from its flat four and four-wheel drive, it still feels fast today. What to pay: £2000

P1 (2001) – After the legendary 22B, the P1 is the most sought-after high-performance Impreza derivatives. As the 22B, also has a two-door body, but it uses a 2.0 instead of 2.2 litres of engine. What to pay: £ 18,000

WRX (2006) – The second generation of the Impreza looks more fresh than the classic version and there is not much more expensive. Even the later ‘hawk-eye’, which is the best of the lot, it is very affordable. What to pay: £5000

WRX STi (2007) – With 276bhp, the WRX STi model is more in keeping with the image of a high-performance Impreza. There is a very good selection of care for cars in this price point also. What to pay: £10,000

WRX STi 2.5 (2016) – The latest WRX Sti – that dropped the Impreza name – may not be as revered as some previous versions, but are more powerful and easier to live in the day-to-day. What to pay: £20,000

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