• Evo X VS Sti ( Evo owns)

      Content is From Road and Track Magazine. I remember when Subaru uses to brag about evo being slower off road, well that changed...

      We owe it to motorsports for creating some of the most celebrated street machines in existence. Competition spurs innovation with the interest of stretching a vehicle’s capabilities within a narrow set of guidelines. And thanks to homologation, manufacturers are required to produce and sell a minimum number of these prospective race-winning machines—less the race equipment—to the general public.
      Two of the most recognizable production vehicles bred from their manufacturers’ endeavors on the rally racing circuit are the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution and the Subaru Impreza WRX STI. Here we’ve obtained the latest and greatest versions of both, but instead of pitting them head to head in the customary R&T track setting, we thought it best to explore the breadth of their sophisticated all-wheel-drive systems, performance-tuned chassis and high-strung turbocharged 4-cylinder engines in an environment that will showcase their talents as much as it could expose their weaknesses.
      Venturing to the other side of the continent, we landed at the Team O’Neil Rally School and Car Control Center in Dalton, New Hampshire. Our first three days here were spent as students, getting up to speed on the nuances of perform-ance driving in a rally environment, while taking in all the breathtaking beauty and bone-chilling rain New England had to offer. The following week arrived with us having full latitude within this world-class off-road training facility for our testing. And along with it, the assistance of its founder and accomplished rally champion, Tim O’Neil. With his help, we’d wring the most out these production sedans on the narrow rally roads while minimizing the chance of spinning off a cliff or wrapping sheet metal around a burly oak.
      The 2011 Impreza WRX STI, with its stunning new wide-body 4-door configuration, is what Subaru calls its fastest production STI ever. To reinforce this point they shipped one to Germany’s famed Nordschleife, plopped rally legend Tommi Mäkinen behind the wheel and set a sedan record lap of 7 minutes 55 seconds (beating out the Cadillac CTS-V’s previously recorded time in 2008 by 4 sec.). This holds true through our gamut of tests carried out at the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station in Irvine, California, where this STI outperformed its 5-door predecessor in every area, save for 80–0 mph braking where it fell shy by an insignificant 2 ft. The boost in performance here can be attributed to modifications made to the STI’s chassis. The ride height has been lowered by 0.2 in., the front and rear spring rates are stiffened by 16 and 53 percent, respectively, and both front (21-mm) and rear (20-mm) anti-roll bars have grown by 1 mm. Toe and camber integrity is improved through solid pillow-ball bushings supplanting the lower front control arms’ rubber units, with stiffer subframe bushings added in the rear.
      The changes result in significantly more balanced road manners. There’s less understeer to fight, which is of paramount importance with an all-wheel-drive car, and much more roll stiffness makes for quicker transitions and less body English in a corner.
      he 2010 Mitsubishi Evolution SE, or Special Edition, is a model that was created for fans of top-spec MR performance parts like the dual-clutch (TC-SST) transmission, 2-piece Brembo front rotors and uprated suspension, but not so much the superfluous trim and comfort items that add weight and cost over the base GSR model. Although there is virtually no hardware on this car that doesn’t already exist on another, the package that Mitsubishi has bundled to fall in the middle of the Evo pricing spectrum ($35,790) has outperformed the very capable, but much more expensive, MR Touring ($40,990) in every single test we’ve done.
      Along with its torque-vectoring rear differential (Active Yaw Control), Active Center Differential and an intelligent electronic overlord (Super All-Wheel Control) that blends the balance of a rear-drive car with all-wheel drive’s sure-footed traction, this 10th-generation Evo has proven to be an insurmountable opponent on pavement for the STI...at least up to this point. So how does everything stack up in a rally environment?
      The skidpad was the first of five tests where the STI became the early favorite. Its all-wheel-drive system comes with a multitude of modes and settings that affect center-differential lockup and thus fore/aft torque distribution. For its Driver Controlled Center Differential (DCCD) we opted to leave it in “Auto +” instead of selecting a fixed ratio. This mode favors more differential lockup (more power sent to the front tires) and retains computer-varied torque biasing. This appeared to work well. Maintaining a mild oversteer condition—the quick way around the skidpad in this case—was an effortless task, largely due to the predictability we could feel through the chassis. O’Neil comments: “I have a lot of confidence driving the STI here. If the car is going to understeer I get a sense of it, and the car tells me I’ve got to let off the gas or give it brake. I get a little bit more feedback from the road compared to the Evo as well. I felt that it liked a combination of both left-foot brake and throttle, whereas with the Evo you could get away with just throttle and steering—but a lot more steering.”
      The Evo’s system by comparison features three torque-varying settings (Tarmac, Gravel, Snow) for its Active Center Differential. The Active Yaw Control in the rear differential made it easy to initiate a slide, but difficult to maintain. It’s hard enough to trace the perfect line of our 200-ft. dirt circle, and having “Big Brother” try to help only slows us down. As a result, the Evo gives up about 0.02g to the STI.
      Our slalom revealed a reversal of skidpad behavior, as it sometimes does, where the Evo’s willingness to switch directions allows for quicker inputs to the steering wheel and no need for left-foot braking to aid turn-in. Both factors added up to an advantage of 0.8 mph through our 700-ft. slalom.
      For our quarter-mile straight-line acceleration testing, finding a stretch of dirt long enough was virtually impossible—especially since great lengths were taken to avoid such straight featureless roads in O’Neil’s network of training loops. We set up our truncated drag strip in the Northern Training Area that proved sufficient for showcasing the difference between the cars’ acceleration characteristics, as well as how drastically the surface changes with each run.
      The ability to perform a drop-clutch launch with the STI’s standard 6-speed manual transmission gives it the holeshot and roughly 1 sec. (ignoring the 1-ft. rollout) or 5 ft. of lead distance. From there on, the Evo’s launch control works wonders to mitigate wheelspin, something the STI is plagued with all the way to 50 mph. Add to that the automatic and virtually instantaneous upshifts from the Evo SE’s dual-clutch transmission and the STI trails by a full second by the time the Evo reaches 60 mph.
      The difference in braking performance was by far the most difficult metric to compare for a few reasons. First, ABS doesn’t work well in this case. To stop effectively on dirt, wheel lockup is needed to dig past the surface layer and grab hold of the hard-packed stuff beneath. Secondly, the surface is always changing, which means that braking distances can get better or worse with each run, even with every other condition controlled. Our tarmac brake testing regularly yields consistency to within a foot from 60 mph and around 5 ft. from 80 mph, where here the braking distances varied as much as 24 ft. from 60 mph and 54 ft. from 80 mph. O’Neil advises that threshold braking usually works better in this case (with ABS), and his sensitive left foot proved it with about 15 ft. less stopping distance from 60 mph. Neither O’Neil nor I preferred one car’s brake feel to the other.
      With our benchmark tests completed and no clear victor, what it comes down to here is who crosses the finish line first. Our rally course loop stretched approximately 1.25 miles with over 200 ft. of elevation change. All-out, back-to-back runs alternating between vehicles yielded a definitive favorite—and astoundingly only one tire puncture—after the dust settled. O’Neil sums up his experience in both cars: “As you know I’m more of a conventional car guy (no ABS, shift with a clutch pedal, etc.). But I’d have to say that after driving the Evo, and then getting into the STI, I realize I love paddle shifters. It’s quicker and you want to have both hands on the wheel, which enables you to balance the car a little better. The suspension is much better in the Evo but it lacks ground clearance. With the Evo, you have the ability to throttle-steer at will. The engine torque is good, but I can’t really hear the engine at all. I love the STI, but there’s a bit of an issue with the rear suspension bouncing and oscillating over really severe bumps and that’s a bit disconcerting. But I could keep it a gear lower and keep the revs up and was more confident when it came to sliding through sweeping turns. You could toss it around a little easier with braking, but when it comes to braking, shifting and using the handbrake (which is positioned too close laterally and too far forward of the driver), it’s a lot more work than the Evo…”
      All told, the course times had the Evo ahead of the STI by 2.87 sec., which ultimately crowns it the out-of-the-box rally car of choice for this comparison. But the fact that Mitsubishi and Subaru even build street-going vehicles that can perform on this level makes them both champions in the eyes of rally enthusiasts everywhere.