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.
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.
The Lancer platform was completely changed in 1996, and along with it the Evolution, which had become extremely popular throughout the world. The engine and transaxle was rotated 180° to better balance the weight and eliminate torque steer. There were two versions available, The RS and GSR. The RS version was produced as a competition car with a limited-slip front differential and a friction type LSD at the rear. It also came with GLX seats and 16" (41 cm) steel wheels as these were items that would be replaced by anyone entering the car into competition events. The RS also had wind up windows, no air conditioning, and a few extra brace bars to strengthen the chassis, one behind the front grill and the other across the boot floor. The RS also had a factory option of thinner body panels and thinner glass. The GSR and the RS shared a new twin scroll turbocharger which helped to increase power to 280 PS (276 hp/206 kW) at 6,500 rpm and 260 ft·lbf (352 N·m) of torque at 3,000 rpm. Mitsubishi's new Active Yaw Control appeared as a factory option on the GSR model, which used steering, throttle input sensors and g sensors to computer-hydraulically controlled torque split individually to the rear wheels and as a result the 10,000 Evolution IVs produced all sold quickly. The Evolution IV can be distinguished by its two large fog lights in the front bumper (option on RS version), and the newly designed tail lights on the rear, which became a standard design to Evolution VI, which would become yet another trademark of the Evolution series. This new generation was slightly heavier than previous Evos—the GSR in particular due to the added technology systems—but to counter this the car produced even more power—the weight of the RS being 1260 kg (2778 lb) and the GSR being 1345 kg (2965 lb).
In 1997, the WRC created a new "World Rally Car" class, and while these cars still had to abide by Group A standards, they did not have to meet homologation rules. Mitsubishi redesigned the Evolution IV with this in mind and introduced the Evolution V in January 1998.
Furthermore, the turbocharger was again improved. Torque was increased to 275 ft·lbf (373 N·m) at 3000 rpm. Power officially stayed the same, at 280 PS (276 hp/206 kW) as agreed by Japan's automotive gentlemen's agreement that all cars would have 276 or less hp, but some claim horsepower was actually somewhat higher.
The Evolution VI's changes mainly focused on cooling and engine durability. It received a larger intercooler, larger oil cooler, and new pistons, along with a titanium-aluminide turbine wheel for the RS model, which was a first in a production car. Also, the Evolution VI received new bodywork yet again, with the most easily spotted change in the front bumper where the huge fog lights were reduced in size and moved to the corners for better airflow. A new model was added to the GSR and RS lineup; known as the RS2, it was an RS with a few of the GSR's options. Another limited-edition RS was known as the RS Sprint, an RS tuned by Ralliart in the UK to be lighter and more powerful with 330 hp (246 kW).
Yet another special edition Evolution VI was also released in 1999: the Tommi Makinen Edition, named after Finnish rally driver Tommi Makinen that had won Mitsubishi four WRC drivers championships. It featured a different front bumper, Red/Black Recaro seats (with embossed T. Makinen logo), 17" ENKEI white wheels, a leather MOMO steering wheel and shift knob, a titanium turbine that spooled up quicker, front upper strut brace, lowered ride height (with tarmac stages in mind), and a quicker steering ratio. Amongst other colours, the Evo VI came in either red, white, blue, black or silver with optional special decals, replicating Tommi Makinen's rally car's colour scheme. This car is also sometimes referred to as an Evolution 6˝, Evolution 6.5, or TME for short.
In 2001, Mitsubishi was forced by the FIA to race in the WRC using WRC rules for building a car instead of the Group A class rules, and thus did not need to follow homologation rules. The Evolution VII was based on the larger Lancer Cedia platform and as a result gained more weight over the Evolution VI, but Mitsubishi made up for this with multiple important chassis tweaks. The biggest change was the addition of an active center differential and a more effective limited-slip differential, while a front helical limited-slip differential was added. Torque was increased again to 284 ft·lbf (385 N·m) with engine tweaks that allowed greater airflow, and horsepower officially remained at 280 PS (276 hp/206 kW).
The introduction of the Evolution VII also marked the first time an automatic drivetrain was included within the model lineup—the GT-A. Seen as the 'gentleman's express' version of the visually similar VII GSR, the GT-A model was only produced in 2002 and had the following distinguishing interior and exterior specification: GT-A-only diamond cut finish 17-inch (430 mm) alloy wheels, clear rear light lenses and all-in-one style front headlights (later used on the Evolution VIII). The GT-A had the option of either no spoiler, the short spoiler (as later used on the Evolution VIII 260) or the thunderspoiler as used on the standard Evolution VII models. The most distinguishing feature was a smooth bonnet with no air-grills on it at all. Although offering inferior cooling capabilities, the bonnet was designed to give a cleaner line through the air with less air resistance at motorway speeds.
Interior could be specified with factory options of a deluxe velour interior, full leather or the Recaro sports seats. The GT-A interior was different in that it had chromed door handles, a different instrument panel (to show the gear selection) and chrome edged bezels around the speedo and tach. The GT-A also had additional sound deadening installed from the factory and the engine manifold and downpipe had been engineered to be quieter.
The 5-speed automatic gearbox had what Mitsubishi called "fuzzy logic", which meant that the car would learn what the driver's driving characteristics were like and would adapt the gear change timings and kick down reactions accordingly. The gears could be manually selected as with most tiptronics via steering wheel + and - buttons (a pair both sides) or via selecting the tiptronic gate with the gear lever. Power was down a little from the standard manual cars with a very usable 272 bhp (203 kW). The GT-A gearbox did not appear again in the Evolution VIII but has been installed in the estate version of the Evolution IX Wagon.
The Evolution was modified again in 2003, this time sporting Super Active Yaw Control to handle traction and a 5- or 6-speed manual gearbox depending on the model. It was available with 280 PS (276 hp/206 kW) in four trims: the standard GSR model in Japan, the RS, with a steel roof, 5-speed gearbox, and standard wheels (lacking excess components, such as interior map lights, power windows/doors, and radio), the SSL (with a sunroof, trunk mounted subwoofer, and leather seats), and the MR, which came with a revised limited-slip front differential, aluminum MR shift knob, handbrake with carbon fiber handle, 17 inch BBS wheels, aluminum roof, and a 6-speed manual gearbox. The new Evolution also sported Altezza taillights.
Mitsubishi introduced the Lancer Evolution IX in Japan on March 3, 2005, and exhibited the car at the Geneva Motor Show for the European market the same day. The North American markets saw the model exhibited at the New York International Auto Show the following month. The 2.0 L 4G63 engine has MIVEC technology (variable valve timing), boosting official power output at the crankshaft to 286 hp (213 kW) and torque to 289 ft·lbf (392 N·m). The Evolution VIII first offered in 2003 would produce dynamometer readings of approximately 225 WHP and 225 lb·ft (305 N·m). WTQ with a flywheel power rating of 271/273 respectively. The Evolution IX typically pulls 255 WHP and 250 WTQ on a wheel dynamometer, a difference of 30 hp (22 kW).
The Lancer Evolution X sedan features a newly designed 4B11T 2.0 L turbocharged, all-aluminum inline-4 engine. Power and torque depend on the market but all versions will have at least 280 PS (205.9 kW; 276.2 hp) (JDM version), the American market version will have slightly more. The UK models will be reworked by Mitsubishi UK, in accordance with previous MR Evolutions bearing the FQ badge. Options for the UK Evolutions are expected to be between 300 hp (220 kW) and 360 hp (270 kW). Two versions of the car will be offered in the U.S. The Lancer Evolution MR, with 6-speed Twin Clutch Sportronic Shift Transmission (TC-SST). The other version is the GSR which will have a 5-speed manual transmission system. The car has also a new full-time all-wheel drive system named S-AWC (Super All Wheel Control), an advanced version of Mitsubishi's AWC system used in previous generations. The S-AWC uses torque vectoring technology to send different amount of torque to any wheel at any given time.