Lancer Evolution was first offered in the 1992 model year. Mitsubishi dressed up the base Lancer economy sedan with the motor and drivetrain out of their previous rally car, the Galant VR-4. (The Galant VR-4 was also the basis for the US-market Mistubishi Eclipse/Eagle Talon/Chrysler Laser cars.)
The pumped-up Lancer did great on the rally circuit, and Lancer Evolution was followed by seven additional iterations, most of which were dominant forces on the World Rally Championship (WRC) circuit. Starting with Evo IV, the Evo got a new-generation chassis, with the motor flipped around for better packaging and weight distribution considerations.
Evo VII was yet again a new body, growing in size and weight, but also applying all that had been learned in the previous generations. It boasted 276 hp, active center differential with computerized yaw control, and tons of other high-technology.
For all this time, though, the Evolution was not available to the U.S. public. Mitsubishi finally caved in and federalized the car after Subaru brought in the arch-rival WRX in the 2002 model year, and in March of 2003 the Evo VIII blasted onto the U.S. showroom floors. The 2003 car was identical to the Evo offered in other parts of the world, with the exception of slightly lower rated horsepower figures, a five-speed tranny instead of a six-speed, and the lack of the active center diff.
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