The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, colloquially known as the Lancer Evo or Evo, is a car manufactured by Mitsubishi Motors. There have been ten official versions to date, and the designation of each model is most commonly a roman numeral. All of them share a two litre, turbocharged engine and four-wheel drive system. Evolution models prior to version VII were the homologation models for Mitsubishi’s efforts in the World Rally Championship. In order to follow these rules, the Evolution was based on the same unibody as the Lancer.
The Evolution was originally intended only for Japanese markets but demand on the ‘grey import’ market led the Evolution series to be offered through RalliArt dealer networks in the United Kingdom and in various European markets from around 1998. Mitsubishi decided to export the eighth generation Evolution to the United States in 2003 after witnessing the success Subaru had in that market with their Impreza WRX, a direct competitor in other global regions.
Japanese-spec cars were limited by a gentleman’s agreement to advertise no more than 276 hp (205 kW), a self imposed limit, 280 hp (210 kW) by the state, a mark already reached by Evolution IV. Therefore, each subsequent version has unofficially evolved above the advertised power figures, with the Japanese-spec Evolution IX reaching a real power output of around 321 PS (317 hp/236 kW). Various versions available in other markets, particularly the UK, have official power outputs up to 405 bhp (302 kW).
In 2008, the latest generation Lancer Evolution X was launched worldwide, and featured an all-new 291 hp (217 kW) inline four-cylinder turbocharged engine and a full-time all wheel drive powertrain.
The Evolution I was introduced in 1992 to compete in the World Rally Championship. It used the 2.0 L turbocharged DOHC engine and 4WD drivetrain from the original Galant VR-4 in a Lancer chassis, and was sold in GSR and RS models. The latter was a stripped-down club racing version that lacked power windows and seats, anti-lock brakes, a rear wiper, and had steel wheels to weigh approximately 155 lb (70 kg) less than the 2,730 lb (1,238 kg) GSR, while the former came with all of the conveniences of a typical street car.
It came with Mitsubishi’s 4G63 engine producing 250 PS (244 hp/182 kW) at 6000 rpm and 228 ft·lbf (309 N·m) at 3000 rpm, along with all wheel drive which would become a trademark on all Evolution models. 5,000 of the first generation Evolutions were sold between 1992 and 1993.
The successful Evolution I was changed in December 1993, and was produced until 1995. It consisted mainly of handling improvements, including minor wheelbase adjustments, larger swaybars, bodywork tweaks including a larger spoiler, and tires that were 10 mm (0.4 in) wider.
Power output was increased to 256 PS (252 hp/188 kW) from the same engine and torque was unchanged for both GSR and RS models.
January 1995 saw the arrival of the Evolution 3, which had several improvements over the previous models. New, more aggressive styling and a new nose molding improved the air supply to the radiator, intercooler and brakes.
New side skirts and rear bumper moldings and a larger rear spoiler were added to reduce lift. Under the vented aluminium bonnet a new TDO5-16G6-7 turbocharger, exhaust system and increased compression gave a 10 PS (10 hp/7 kW) increase in power.
Torque output was unaltered, apart from a higher final drive ratio. Both GSR and RS still used the same 5 speed quaife gearbox. Interior tweaks were limited to a new Momo steering wheel (GSR only) and Recaro seats from the Evolution 2 upholstered with new fabric.
The Evolution 3 GSR weighed 1260 kg while the RS model weighed 1190 kg. The car’s 4G63T engine had a displacement of 1997 cc and provided 270 bhp (201 kW) at 6250 rpm, 228 lb·ft (309 N·m) of torque at 3000 rpm.