Motor (Australia) - - FEATURE -

BOTH haloed all-paw war­riors came to Aus­tralia in tiny num­bers (aided by im­ports), how­ever, we’ve still got the chance to steer these rare Ja­panese rally icons. The 22B is the ul­ti­mate in­car­na­tion of the first-gen WRX and you’d be gullible to be­lieve it’s only pump­ing out 206kW/363Nm. Un­der­stand­ably, we said it’s the clos­est a road car could get to the full-fat WRC car. Bil­stein dampers, Brembo stop­pers and a driver-con­trolled cen­tre diff only adds to the hard­core ap­proach. The neck-snapping driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence with a flex­i­ble bot­tom end tran­si­tion­ing into a whooshy, raspy crescendo got our hearts rac­ing. The styling, too, com­mands at­ten­tion: “In sig­na­ture WRC Blue, arches bulging with deep off­set BBS al­loys, it turns the heads of those who know it’s no ver­sion 5,” we said. The close-ra­tio ’box gained praise and de­spite the race car-taut ride, the whole pack­age of­fered a to­geth­er­ness that could only be judged a fit­ting farewell. The Evo VI pro­duced the same sort of point-to-point pace that scared su­per­cars and shamed the likes of the BMW M3 at the time. Yet it’s based on a hum­ble Lancer, which makes it a bit of a con­tra­dic­tion, we said. With the right torque split, the Evo re­sists the urge to un­der­steer, while its me­chan­i­cal grip was found to be a match for the sticky rub­ber. How­ever, we’re still not buy­ing the 206kW/373Nm claim. In the June 2004 is­sue of MO­TOR, tester David Mor­ley said: “On a race­track, the Evo VI just can’t be tricked into do­ing any­thing nasty, de­spite the out­ra­geous speeds of which it’s ca­pa­ble. Stop­ping power and pedal feel are not things the Evo is short on. On pub­lic roads, it’s safe, se­cure and to­tally un­flap­pable. The caveat here, though, is that if you do get it wrong in an Evo VI, your crunch will be a big one – that’s the only size they come in.”

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