If you ask rally fans to describe a rally car, many of them will include turbocharged and all wheel drive in their description. We all know how Audi showed up one year with the Ur-Quattro and stood the rally community on its ear, but soon thereafter, a pair of Japanese saloons arrived on the scene and, for many, defined the post-Group B era of rally. WRX vs. Evo details the competition between these two platforms over the years; on the special stage and on the street.
As a Mitsubishi owner for 15 years, I’m firmly in the Mitsubishi camp. Tommi Mäkinen, with his gold driving shoes and four consecutive WRC wins (1996-1999), all in Mitsubishi Lancers, stands as my all time favorite WRC jock. Still, I often found myself cheering for Petter Solberg and Colin McRae in the Subarus. How could any rallyista not be moved by Solberg’s unabashed victory celebrations, or aspire to McRae’s humility on camera and relentless attack on the stages?
Such is the content of WRX vs. Evo. Author Huw Evans traces the history of these two platforms, starting with a general history of the two manufacturers and setting the stage for rally dominance with the introductions of the Subaru Legacy and Mitsubishi Galant. The Legacy and Galant are replaced by the Impreza and Lancer and the pace of this book quickens.
WRX vs. Evo reads like a world rally arms race. Each WRC championship is covered in great detail. No event goes unmentioned. Narratives follow the Mitsubishi team through a season, then switch gears, illustrating the Subaru perspective. You’ll be reminded of gut-wrenching mechanical failures and inspired victories from both sides. You follow the drivers as they join and leave the teams, and it seems as if just about everyone wanted a ride in these cars.
The battle royale spills over into the streets too. You’re introduced to model year changes, seeing when and where various bits of rally-bred technology made their way to the street. These were the improvements made to the Subaru. This was what the automotive press had to say about this model. Mitsubishi returned fire, bringing the next Evolution to market with these features. The press had this to say about the Mitsubishi. There’s even an appendix at the back of the book detailing the specs for each car over the years, as well as an appendix covering every special/limited edition model offered.
I’d say this is a proper gearhead’s book. You can read it front-to-back, as I did, but it’s arranged in such a way that you can just pick it up and get a quick fix of Mitsu/Subie/WRC history at a glance. Flip to 1996 and see what was new in the Lancer Evo IV. Jump to 1995 and follow along as Colin McRae wins his first driver’s title. Consider alternate gear ratios between years in the appendix. (I also suspect the WRC season recaps would make excellent bedtime stories for young, impressionable minds!)
I’ve never done a book review before, and I need to be clear that 671 Press sent me a copy specifically to review, but I’m very glad they did. I really enjoyed reading this book and make a point of displaying it prominently in the house. As a long term Mitsubishi guy, I noticed a couple typos in the book, but there is just so much data presented in such convenient, manageable chunks, I still feel it deserves a glowing review all the same. WRX vs. Evo is a compilation of stories which, together, tell a larger story which continues to this very day.
If this sounds like a book you’d like to read, or give to a Mitsu/Subie/rally friend as a gift, you can pick up a copy of ‘WRX vs. Evo’ by Huw Evans on Amazon. Full disclosure: That’s an affiliate link. If you click that link and purchase the book, Gearbox Magazine gets a percentage of the purchase price, which will help us do more for the rally community in the future.
Thank you for reading and, if you pick this book up, let us know what you think!