1996-1998 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution: A Comprehensive Guide

July 3, 2023 1:08 PM

1996-1998 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution

The 1996-1998 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, commonly known as Evo, is a high-performance sports sedan produced by the renowned Japanese automaker Mitsubishi Motors. The Evolution series gained immense popularity, especially among JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) enthusiasts, due to its exceptional performance, aggressive styling, and rally heritage.


The first-generation Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, also known as the Evo 4 (IV), was introduced in 1996. It was based on the Mitsubishi Lancer sedan, a compact car model available in various guises for the general market. However, the Evolution was specifically designed and engineered for rally racing, inheriting many advanced features from its rally-bred siblings.

Rally Heritage

The Lancer Evolution's rally heritage dates back to the 1970s when Mitsubishi began participating in motorsport events. The Evolution series was born out of the necessity to homologate their rally cars, making them eligible for participation in racing events. This helped Mitsubishi prove the reliability, durability, and performance of their vehicles, while also gaining valuable technical insights for their production cars.

Engine and Performance

The 1996-1998 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution came equipped with a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four engine, codenamed 4G63T. This powerplant was capable of producing impressive power figures, ranging from 276 to 280 horsepower, depending on the specific model and trim level. The Evolution models featured Mitsubishi's advanced All Wheel Control (AWC) system, ensuring excellent traction, stability, and cornering performance, especially on various surfaces.

The Evo's performance was further enhanced by a close-ratio 5-speed manual transmission that allowed precise gear changes, maximizing acceleration and driver engagement. The combination of the powerful engine and advanced AWC system enabled the Lancer Evolution to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just a little over 4.5 seconds, making it a formidable contender on both the rally stages and the streets.

Exterior Design

The 1996-1998 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution featured a distinctively aggressive and aerodynamic design, setting it apart from its regular Lancer counterparts. With a focus on improved performance and aerodynamics, the Evo showcased a large rear wing, front and rear air dams, and a functional hood scoop that not only improved engine cooling but also added a striking visual element.

JDM Significance

Due to its limited availability in international markets, the 1996-1998 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution holds significant importance in the JDM community. JDM enthusiasts highly covet the early Evos, considering them as iconic Japanese performance cars. The appeal of the Evo is further heightened by its legendary status in rally racing, with numerous victories and accomplishments that solidify its position as a true motorsport legend.


The 1996-1998 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution laid the foundation for the remarkable Evolution series that followed. The continuous evolution and improvement in subsequent generations have made the Evo an automotive phenomenon, with each iteration further pushing the boundaries of performance, technology, and design. Although the first-generation Evo is now over two decades old, its legacy lives on through the subsequent models, making it an object of reverence among car enthusiasts and collectors.

In summary, the 1996-1998 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution signifies the beginning of a remarkable automotive legacy. Its rally heritage, formidable performance, aggressive design, and revered status among JDM enthusiasts cement its place in the annals of automotive history.