Thanks to the nice chaps at Xtreme I've been lucky enough to test drive one of their brand new Evo IX's! They have two at the moment and I've done about 50 miles this morning in the yellow one, which was just run in, and what a great drive it was too!
Now, obviously there was going to be a big difference going from my VII RS to the IX GSR, but nevertheless as a standard car, straight out the box, it is truly fantastic! I was lucky enough to be able to drive it round town, out on some dual carriageways and round some great roundabouts and also down some nice twisty country lanes, so a good all round test!
Now it's not as raw a ride as my RS of course but it's a good compromise, as you'd expect, of decent ride quality and excellent handling. It handled extremely well as you'd all no doubt expect it to, when being pushed round and drifted off roundabouts. The roads I was driving on were a little damp or wet mostly, so nice for some slightly sideways action (as far as the S-AYC would allow anyway!), but I did have to put the ACD on to gravel from tarmac after a couple of nicely drifted roundabouts exits! Though even in gravel mode understeer wasn't around at all, even though the roads were wet, it really did stick well.
The power delivery is very smooth indeed, and I think the MIVEC engine is helping to deliver the torque earlier as you can really start to feel it from just above 2,500rpm whereas every other Evo I've driven is more in the 3,000 - 3,500rpm range. I was in fifth gear doing 2,000 revs and as it got to just over 2,500 it started to come alive. What's more though is that it was good to take it right up to the redline (and a little beyond at one point
) as the power doesn't seem to drop off as much as previous Evo's if at all. Other models I've driven there really isn't much point going past 6,500rpm as there's no power being delivered but in the IX it felt just as strong!
I gave it some welly on a long straight that in my RS against a couple of markers from a standing start I can get up to 105mph (120mph in the Xtreme SC!!) and this Evo IX was doing 140km/h (about 90mph), so considering my car is 100kgs lighter and has a shed load more power and torque, this IX is a very quick standard car.
It even sounds much better than previous Evo's, it's got a great looking exhaust on it, and can't be called a 'peashooter' in my opinion, and it really does sound good, it's without a doubt the best sounding Evo (as standard anyway!). In third gear at 5,500rpm is has a really nice grunt to it, so the aural pleasure is just as good as the drive.
Interior is pretty much the same with the exception of the seats which are half leather and alcantara and being Recaro factory built items they seem much nicer than the leather covers fitted by CCC to the FQ's at Portbury :blah:
The car I drove still had the speed limiter on it which came in at a smidgeon under 200km/h but it was pulling all the way up there for sure. Driving on the motorway was great too, in to sixth and just cruise, was about 2,500rpm at 70mph but even without dropping it a cog, flooring it at those revs in sixth on the motorway it just pulled, it was very impressive.
Brakes as ever were great though I think a little more bedding in on that car may help the braking performance a bit, but as with other Evo's it really does stop when you want it to.
As far as downsides go, I'm personally not sold on the 'feel' of the six speed, to me it just doesn't feel as tight and precise as the five speeds, but I'm quite picky about feel in a car, so it's really nothing major, just more of a personal thing, it wouldn't put me off buying one though at all. Similarly, I'd prefer a slightly lower ride height and driving position, but then it's probably because that's what I'm used to at the moment rather than it being a downside of the car.
Also, I'm sure I only had quarter of a tank of fuel left (I could be wrong though!) and when I filled up it took another 40 litres, so I think the fuel tank is bigger too, which is a bloody godsend!
Overall, I think it's the best sounding, best looking (have you seen that black plastic air dam thing at the back! Sexy!
), smoothest power delivering Evo to date, when Xtreme put an XT350 conversion on to it, it's really going to be a motor to be reckoned with in my opinion. I'd be interested to see some rolling road graphs of it in standard trim actually because the way that power is delivered it feels very impressive. If you are in the market for a new car buy one today!