It has attracted a wide following of enthusiast drivers and the production model is currently in its 7th edition in Japan and has been shipped in limited numbers to other world markets by Ralliart (MMC’s motorsport affiliate) as a base model for use in competitive driving and rallysport.
Evolution VIII marks the introduction of the series in the U.S. and, over time, into other new markets where there has been considerable interest in the series.
Having commenced shipments of Evolution VIII to the United States, Mitsubishi decided to give the model its world debut at the Los Angeles Show ahead of its unveiling on the Japanese domestic market, scheduled for early 2003.
The U.S. market specification Evolution VIII derives many parts from the Japanese market Lancer Evolution VII GSR, which is essentially the base-model Evo.
While sharing major parts and components with the upcoming Japanese market Evolution VIII too, the U.S. model has been developed exclusively for the U.S. to meet crashworthiness and emissions requirements, user needs and preferences, plus road and traffic conditions in that market.
The first and most obvious changes over the Evo VII are cosmetic and, in genereal, the new Evo VIII has a much less angular look to it, with more smooth lines and curves.
Take the new front air-dam that houses the intercooler, for example: Much curvier than its predecessor’s.
Mitsubishi reckons the restyling improves intercooler performance and, in turn, engine cooling, thanks to a larger air intake aperture on its underside.
As for eye-candy however, debate is already rife as to whether it’s an improvement, with many preferring the harder, more aggressive lines of the Evo VII.
The new model is some 80mm longer than the Evo it replaces, and the front grille marks the new Mitsu design identity with a raised triangular base in the center of the grille embellished with a rather spiffy chrome silver 3-diamond logo.
The rear spoiler is a tasty pice of kit, making use of weight reducing carbon fibre-reinforced plastic for both horizontal and vertical wings - a world-first for a production 4-door sedan. Furthermore, the wing section design has been optimised to generate greater downforce without increasing drag.
The Evo VIII packs a 2.0-litre (1997cc) inline four-cylinder mill, with four-valves per cylinder. It makes use of forced induction provided by a turbocharger linked to frontally-mounted intercooler. The US-spec Evolution VIII cranks out an assertive 273 lb/ft of toque @ 3500rpm, while peak power of 270 hp @ 6500rpm.