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Saturday, April 18, 2015

Comparison: Matchbox Rally Police Cars: Subaru WRX vs. Mitsubishi Evo X

This comes with an odd story:  The Subaru (Impreza) WRX STi Police arrived to Matchbox in 2008, but after a brief two colors the casting was shelved due to a licensing issue with Subaru.  Then in 2012 with the help of Hot Wheels the WRX Police made a comeback, though with the same silver color and white tires to emulate snow.  Since then the WRX has been on a roll making it's comeback with plenty of variations to come, plus not to mention securing the current real WRX STi's life for another generation.  Between that dead zone, Matchbox thought the Subaru might not come back, so in that respect released the Mitsubishi (Lancer) Evo X Police car to fill the void.  It worked after a few variations until the Subaru returned, and unlike the Subaru the Evo X's future is uncertain at Mitsubishi.  With the new blue WRX for 2014 out, I pulled the 2011 recolor in the identical blue to see which one of these rally police cars is the best.

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Both cars come from their compact car's roots, but with an added dose of wings and scoops to make the difference.  The Subaru WRX is based on the older body-style, which started in 2002 and went through three facelifts; the version you see here is the third and last facelift before the 2008 next generation model arrived.  It sports the ill-fated tri-wing grille with larger swept headlights.  Matchbox did a nice job with the grille details, the scoop on the hood, and even the buldge on the headlights.  The rear has the large wing and detailed taillights and even a smaller rear spoiler on the rear window, which also has a rear wiper.  The sides are a bit too thick and tall compared to the Evo and the light bar is the thicker old school-style.  The 6-spoke wheels look great, but what would even look great is the gold multi-spoke wheels on the 2013 black and white version to go along with the blue.  The Evo is more tamer with a lower stance and smoother body lines; only the rear wing and the modern light bar sticks out.  The front has slimmer headlights with a larger, and separate piece, grille, while the hood has three scoops that are flush with the hood.  The sides have a more swoopier profile, especially the roof pillars, down to the taillights with one feature the Subaru does not have: dual exhaust.  Both look extremely good here, so its a tie.

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Both cars offer seating for five and no police gear whatsoever!  The Subaru is left-hand drive with a 3-spoke steering wheels, central controls split in the center by air vents, and resonable seating and shifter placement.  The interior does feel a bit dated compared to the Evo, though the Evo is not entirely the best with a right-hand drive layout that has the steering wheel more closer to the dashboard instead of properly sticking out.  The dashboard has a smoother layout with central controls and shifter.  Rear seat headroom may be a bit snug with the low roofline, but overall both offer pretty good acommidations, so both are a tie here.

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Both cars offer turbocharged I-4's and all-wheel drive.  The Subaru uses a 2.5L turbocharged Flat-4 that produces 235 hp. and 217 Ib-ft. of torque through a 5-speed manual and through an all-wheel drive system with a driver-selected center differential.  The Evo is on an updated platform that uses a turbocharged 2.0L I-4 that produces 291 hp. and 300 Ib-ft. of torque through a 6-speed manual transmission and through an all-wheel drive system that would send torque to the wheel or wheels with the most traction.

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Acceleration and Braking

Both cars are fast out of the gate, but the Subaru is a bit big and lacks and extra gear, while the Evo has a smooth launch and plenty of power.  Those similarities also showed up in the braking where the low Evo managed a shorter stopping distance than the taller Subaru with a bit of nosedive.

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The compact size and sheer power sent to all four wheels make these two rally cars fun-to-drive.  However, both had their differences as the Subaru's taller height allowed more body roll, but also more looseness to allow the rear-end to steer the car.  The Evo was more neutral with no noticeable body roll and predictable cornering even if its too strict to allow any rear-end steering like the Subaru.  The Subaru would be more at home on the light dirt roads with a slightly higher ground clearance than the Evo.

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Both cars offer lots of good features, from the exterior and interior details, to the rally-like performance.  Both also have faults like the steering wheel on the Evo to the larger size of the Subaru.  Both offer lots of goodies, so it's a tie in this category.

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It's not right to compare two cars that would seem out-of-date to each other, with one being on a newer platform and the other on the older platform, but when the new Evo X arrived at Mitsubishi in 2008 the premium for the new high-tech items like the all-wheel drive system raised the price higher than the 2007 model, so in this category the Subaru would be the clear winner.

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Both are fun, fast, well-appointed, and look good in police uniform.  It was a close one at first, but then the winner was clearer after the performance runs.  The Subaru WRX STi is too bulky and old-fashion to really hold on its own with the Mitsubishi Evo X, which is slimmer and better-controlled.  Yes, the newer Subaru WRX would whip the Evo out in many cases, but for here we're comparing the Matchbox-only tools and both were released around 2007-2008 so the verdict should be correct, and with that in mind the Mitsubishi Evo X Police is the winner of this comparison test.

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