MITSUBISHI LANCERA EVO VI and Evo VII.
In 2001, Mitsubishi were forced by the FIA to race in the WRC using WRC rules for building a car instead of the Group A class rules, and thus did not need to follow homologation rules. The Evolution VII was based on the larger Lancer Cedia platform and as a result gained more weight over the Evolution VI, but Mitsubishi made up for this with multiple important chassis tweaks. The biggest change was the addition of an active center differential and a more effective limited-slip differential, while a front helical limited-slip differential was added. Torque was increased again to 284 ft·lbf (385 N·m) with engine tweaks that allowed greater airflow, and horsepower officially remained at 280 PS (276 hp/206 kW). Despite its civilian appearance, the Evolution VII can outrun many more expensive cars (such as the Ferrari 360 Modena, as seen in Best Motoring videos.)
The introduction of the Evolution VII also marked the first time an automatic drivetrain was included within the model lineup—the GT-A. Seen as the ‘gentleman’s express’ version of the visually similar VII GSR, the GT-A model had the following distinguishing interior and exterior specification ; GT-A only diamond cut finish 17 inch alloy wheels, clear rear light lenses and all in one style front headlights (later used on the Evolution VIII). The GT-A had the option of either no spoiler, the short spoiler (as later used on the Evolution VIII 260) or the thunderspoiler as used on the standard Evolution VII models. The most distinquishing feature was a smooth bonnet with no air-grills on it at all. Although offering inferior cooling capabilities, the bonnet was designed to give a cleaner line through the air with less air resistance at motorway speeds.
Interior could be specified with factory options of a deluxe velour interior, full leather or the Recaro sports seats. The GT-A interior was different in that it had chrome door handles, a different instrument panel (to show the gear selection) and chrome edged bezels around the speedo and rec counter. The GT-A also had additional sound deadening installed from the factory and the engine manifold and downpipe had been engineered to be quieter.
The 5-speed automatic gearbox had what Mitsubishi called ‘fuzzy logic’, which meant that the car would learn what the driver’s driving characteristics were like and would adapt the gear change timings and kick down reactions accordingly. The gears could be manually selected as with most tiptronics via steering wheel + and – buttons (a pair both sides) or via selecting the tiptronic gate with the gear lever. Power was down a little from the standard manual cars with a very usable 272 bhp (203 kW). The GT-A gearbox did not appear again in the Evolution VIII but has been installed in the estate version of the Evolution IX Wagon.
The Evolution VI’s changes mainly focused on cooling and engine durability. It received a larger intercooler, larger oil cooler, and new pistons, along with a titanium-aluminide turbine wheel for the RS model, which was a first in a production car. Also, the Evolution VI received new bodywork yet again, with the most easily spotted change in the front bumper where the huge foglights were reduced in size and moved to the corners for better airflow. A new model was added to the GSR and RS lineup; known as the RS2, it was an RS with a few of the GSR’s options. Another limited-edition RS was known as the RS Sprint, an RS tuned by Ralliart in the UK to be lighter and more powerful with 330 hp (246 kW).
Yet another special edition Evolution VI was also released in 1999: the Tommi Makinen edition, named after Finnish rally driver Tommi Makinen that had won Mitsubishi four WRC drivers championships. It featured a different front bumper, Red/Black Recaro seats (with embossed T. Makinen logo), 17″ ENKEI white wheels, a leather MOMO steering wheel and shift knob, a titanium turbine that spooled up quicker, front upper strut brace, lowered with tarmac stages in mind, a quicker lock to lock and amongst other colours, came in an exclusive shade of red with special decals, replicating Tommi Makinen’s rally car’s colour scheme. This car is also sometimes referred to as an Evolution 6½ or Evolution 6.5.