The Lancer Evolution (colloquially known as the "EVO") is Mitsubishi's flagship sports car. Based only on the unibody of the domesticated Lancer sedan, the Evo is a rally inspired, turbocharged, all wheel drive, durable, and finely tuned automobile. The number designation of the model is most commonly a roman numeral. Evolution models prior to version V were the officially approved models for Mitsubishi's efforts in the World Rally Championship's Group A class and SCCA Pro Rally Championship. In order to follow these rules, the Evolution is based on the same platform as the Lancer. However, it is much more powerful than the Lancer, with the unibody being the only major part in common between the two. Nine street versions of the Evolution have been produced from 1993 up to today. Evolution versions VI, VII, VIII and IX did not need to meet WRC homologation requirements.
The Evo was originally intended only for Japanese markets but demand on the 'grey import' market led the Evolution series to be offered through limited type-approval in the United Kingdom and in various European markets from around 1998 (Evo V-VI). 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 current 2006 Evolution (US market) includes a turbocharged 286 hp (213 kW) inline four-cylinder engine and a full-time all wheel drive powertrain. Variable valve timing is an Evolution first in 2006, coming in the form of MIVEC (Mitsubishi Innovative Valve-timing-and-lift Electronic Control). Japanese-spec cars were limited by a gentleman's agreement to advertise no more than 280 PS (276 hp), a mark already reached by the time of Evo IV; however, each generation of Evo's power has clandestinely evolved above the advertised number, with the Japan-spec Evo IX having real output of about 320 PS, and various versions available in other markets, particularly the UK, have official power outputs up to 405 bhp (302 kW). Even standard components are considered "tuned" compared to other vehicles. For instance, the flywheel on normal cars weighs about 12-15 kilograms but the Lancer flywheel weighs a mere 6 kilos for very quick engine response. The Evo has, however, been evolving into a heavier and heavier vehicle with each generation in face of tougher worldwide safety and emission regulations.
The Lancer Evolution was unique among its competitors in the World Rally Championship in that it is a homologated Group A car slightly modified to be able to race competitively against WRC class cars. They were successful in the WRC Rallies from 1996-1999, thanks to the Finn Tommi Makinen, for clinching the driver's titles from 1996-1999, and the help of teammate Richard Burns for clinching the manufacturer's championship for the first time in 1998. The Evolution however has now been replaced by the Lancer/Carisma GT and the new Lancer WRC04, but the Evo still competes in the Group A and Group N classes.
Mitsubishi introduced the 2006 Lancer Evolution IX at the 2005 New York International Auto Show. The 2.0 L 4G63 engine now gets MIVEC technology (variable valve timing), boosting official power output to 286 hp (213 kW) and torque to 289 ftÂ·lbf (392 NÂ·m) - however actual figures are significantly higher. The Evolution 8 first offered in 2003 would produce dynamometer readings of approximately 225 WHP and 225 ftÂ·lbf. WTQ with a flywheel power rating of 271/273 respectively. The Evolution IX typically pulls 255 WHP and 250 WTQ on a dynamometer, a difference of 30 horsepower.
The Lancer Evolution IX models (RS,IX,MR) vary in their performance capabilities. Subtleties unique to each model account for variations in acceleration, handling and top speed. The decontented RS is the purist's car, reaching 60 mph in a mere 3.9 seconds, compared to 4.6 seconds for the slightly heavier IX and MR models (which have power windows, rear spoilers, Xenon lights, trunk interior, and trunk insulation). Weight savings of over 60 pounds give the RS a subtly sharper handling responsiveness that helps it shave fractions of a second off the lap times of the IX and MR on an identical course. The premium price of the top-model MR is not spent in vain if speed is a priority, as the MR's 6th forward gear allows it to reach 165 mph at 7,000 rpm compared to 157 at 7,000 in 5th for the RS and middle-positioned IX models. (Note: Data relevant to U.S. model specifications)
The IX keeps all the Evolution VIII MR goodies like Bilstein shocks, a 6-speed manual transmission, vortex generators, BBS alloy wheels, Recaro bucket seats, Brembo brakes, MOMO steering wheel, and an aluminium roof. Additional revisions from 2005 include a closer gear ratio for the 5-speed transmission, new lighter Enkei wheels on non-MR models, a redesigned front end w/c a more efficient air dam (the most noticeable feature are the two small oval ducts to cool the intercooler pipes) and new rear bumper with a diffuser undersurface to smooth out the airflow coming out of the car (Non-U.S. Models).
All three models will be available in the US. All models use the same 286 hp (213 kW) engine. All models use a front and rear LSD (Limited Slip Differential), and an ACD (Active Center Differential).
Standard/GSR - revised 5-speed, standard model
RS - revised 5-speed, aluminium roof, gauge pack, minimal interior, LSD and a titanium-magnesium turbine
Mitsubishi also developed the Evolution MIEV, based on the Evolutions IX's chassis but with 4 electric engines connected to the four wheels as a test bed for the Mitsubishi In-wheel Electric Vehicle (MIEV) next-generation electric vehicle. The in-wheel engines use a hollow doughnut construction to locate the rotor outside the stator unlike other electric motors where the rotor turns inside the stator. The result of this is a lighter engine which translates into lower unsprung weight in a system where the engines are mounted in the wheels. Each in-wheel engine produces a power output of 68 hp, thus giving a massive combined output of 272 hp comparable to that of regular, gas powered Lancer Evolutions. The car subsequently competed in the Shikoku EV (Electric Vehicle) Rally 2005.