The Evolution of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo


homage to the Lancer Evolution - Crown Prince of the everyman hoonigans...

Another car maker admits to getting things wrong with emissions testing. Does that mean brand loyalty evaporates? Mitsubishi’s Lancer Evolution was never a strong contender for ‘green car of the year’. But we still love it.

Mitsubishi might not be the global behemoth that is VW, but it is a huge name in car culture.  The company recently announced that it has discovered that fuel consumption testing data submitted to the Japanese authorities has been improperly presented in order to improve fuel consumption rates. The testing method was also different, apparently, from that required by Japanese law.

The company has acted quickly to apologise to its customers and stakeholders and will put in place a committee of external experts to thoroughly and objectively investigate the issue. In line with what the company calls its ‘open and transparent’ policy, it has pledged to make these results public as soon as this is complete.

We spent some time a while back with the Evo X.
The intuition was true. The car was probably the quickest, most fun, most dramatic way to blast across the country without remortgaging your house. A quick cast through the classifieds will net you a workable weapon for well under £20K. Not a bad way to net 300 Cavali.

We’re unlikely to see the likes of the EVO again. It’s sad at one level, but progress dictates that this Japanese muscle car is destined to riff on a chord of nostalgia.

Evo-1: 92-94
The first Lancer Evolution used the 2.0 L turbocharged DOHC engine and AWD drivetrain from the original Galant VR-4. It produced 244 hp at 6000 rpm. 5,000 of the first generation Evolutions were sold between 1992 and 1993. Top speed was 142 mph.

Evo-2: 94-95
The Evo II upgrades consisted mainly of handling improvements, bodywork tweaks including a larger spoiler and tires that were 10 mm wider. It also had a bigger, 50-litre tank. Power output was increased to 252 hp.

Evo-3: 95-96
Evolution 3 came with more aggressive styling and a new nose moulding improved the air supply to the radiator, intercooler and brakes. New side skirts and rear bumper mouldings and a larger rear spoiler were added to reduce lift. The improved engine had higher compression ratio than before and new turbocharger compressor which gave power output of 270 bhp 6250 rpm.

Evo-4: 96-98

In 1996 a new ‘twin scroll’ turbocharger was introduced to the Lancer Evolution,
which helped to improve response and increase power to 276 hp. Drivetrain innovations and the brand’s popularity meant that the 10,000 Evolution IVs produced all sold quickly.

Evo-5: 98

The fifth generation came with Recaro seats, a new body kit and Brembos.
The turbocharger was again improved. Torque was increased to 275 lb ft at 3000 rpm. Power officially stayed the same as the 4, though some claim horsepower was actually higher.

Evo-6: 99-2001

The Evolution 6 introduced mainly airflow tweaks, which improved cooling and therefore on-the-limit performance. The Tommi Makkinen edition, pictured here, was lowered, came in the Finn’s livery with white alloys and a tweaked turbo as well as other aesthetic touches.


The most distinguishing feature of the 7 was a smooth bonnet with no air-grills on it at all and the revised front bumper. Although offering inferior cooling capabilities, the bonnet was designed to give a cleaner line through the air with less air resistance at motorway speeds. An auto box was also offered as part of the lineup.

The Evo 8 famously matched a Murcielago around the TG track with the Stig at the helm
– mainly thanks to its improved suspension, lighter panels and tweaked drive train. Available in beautifully stripped-back form, this was probably the apogee of the brand, pulling away 0-60 in a flicker over 5 seconds.


Designations went mental here. While the new FQ-360 produced less horsepower than its predecessor, it had more torque at 363 lb·ft at 3200 rpm. All four models were designed to run on super unleaded petrol only. The MR FQ-360 was also released in limited numbers (only 200) in the last year of production. The FQ designation was meant to refer to horsepower. But sometimes to Torque units. Confused? We are.

By the time the EVO X was introduced, both fuel prices and road tax in the UK were creeping up. The end might have been in sight, but the Evo remained a relatively rare and welcome sight on the British A-roads. Paddle shift sequential gearbox was a welcome addition, though for some detracted from the stirring purism of the rally-bred marque within a marque.