Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 1 – The Rally Performer of 90s

Table of Contents

Overview of Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 1

The release of Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 1, 1992, did not only mark the introduction of the Lancer series but also the debut of the most well-known rally-inspired car by Mitsubishi. Before the launch of Lancer Evo1, Mitsubishi’s representation in the World Rally Championship (WRC) was not as pronounced. Lancer Evo 1 had everything that it took to be a competitive rally car at the time of its release. It solidified Mitsubishi’s position as a powerhouse in rally racing and strengthened its legacy in the World Rally Championship. Uncover further insights to know more about the dominant presence of Mistubishi Lancer Evo1 in the 90s.

Origin and Evolution

The origin of Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 1 marks the debut of the Evolution series. The Evolution series takes most of its design blueprint from the Lancer series, its predecessor. Mitsubishi launched the Lancer Evolution series with the primary goal of empowering its presence in the World Rally Championship. 

The first model of the series, the Lancer Evolution 1, was released in 1992. The 1992 Evo 1 was quite similar to the compact sedan, the Lancer was. However, Evo 1 was way ahead of its predecessor in performance and modifications.

Evo 1 was a huge hit and laid the foundation for the succession of the Lancer Evolution series. The series continued with ten models, with subsequent improvements in performance and technology. With each new model strengthening the position of the Evolution series in the World Rally Championship, the enhanced aerodynamics and engine performance continued to appeal to enthusiasts across the globe.

Power, Performance and Efficiency

The engine of Lancer Evo 1 was tailored for rally racing. The car featured a high-performing 2-liter turbocharged engine. It was an in-line four-cylinder engine with a Double Overhead Camshaft (DOHC) Valvetrain. The engine generated approximately 244 horsepower and 228 lb-ft torque, making Evo 1 a powerful sedan.

The robust performance of Evo 1 was powered by various features, such as the sophisticated all-wheel-drive (AWD) system. AWD is critical to rally-inspired cars as it allows for performance on various surface levels. It enhanced the stability and traction of Evo 1 and provided more control to the driver. The sport-tuned suspension and aerodynamic features made Evo 1 an unparalleled performer on the road. The large rear wing, air intakes, lightweight body, high stability and downforce aided in high speed on roads and tracks.

The Electric Fuel Injection System (EFI) rationalizes a decent fuel economy for Evo 1 despite being a rally-inspired car. The turbocharged engine offered power on-demand without compromising fuel efficiency in a racing context. However, for everyday use, factors such as driving habits and ride conditions.

Exploring the Interior Features

If you are particularly looking for luxury and comfort on the interior, then you might be underwhelmed to some degree by the interior cabin of Evo 1. As it was primarily designed to be a high-performing rally car, the interior was focused on sport-inspired elements. One of the notable features of the interior included the Recaro bucket seats in the front. These seats were specifically designed to keep the stability of the driver and co-driver in aggressive driving.

The performance-oriented dashboard featured a tachometer and other gauges that monitor vital functions and keep the driver up-to-date. The steering gave off motorsport vibes. It was designed for precise control during high-speed driving. The steering column allowed the tilt to adjust to the preferred driving position on the road.

The overall aura of the interior cabin was minimalist. The primary focus was to keep the weight as minimal as possible in this rally-inspired car, hence avoiding any fancy additions. Consumers looking for comfort on road drives noticed a lack of attention to details on the interior. The Evo 1 Grand Sport rally (GSR) version offered slightly more driving comfort than the Rally Sport (RS) version. The GSR had an air-conditioned interior cabin.

The performance-oriented RS version had more room for modification, as per the requirement. It offered to install a roll cage to protect riders at higher speeds. It also allowed for a four-point racing harness to ensure occupant safety at high speed. Many Evo 1 models were equipped with Sparco gear shift knobs, allowing for a sporty feel. The Evo 1 had a short-throw shifter, allowing quick and precise gear changes. This feature of Evo 1 is very critical in rally racing.

Color Options

Lancer Evo 1 was introduced with minimal color options, which suited the motorsport aura of the vehicle. The color options included:

  • Scotia White
  • Palma Red
  • Saturn Red
  • Pyrenees Black
  • Adriatic Blue

Exploring the Infotainment Technology

For manufacturers of rally cars, the infotainment technology ranks relatively low on the priority list. Also, as mentioned, the Lancer EVO 1 is an early 90s rally-inspired car, and infotainment technology was not very advanced. It was pretty basic and did not meet the modern standards of the later decades. In Evo 1, you would find minimal infotainment technology.

The primary audio system consisted of a radio and a cassette player for music. Advanced options such as a CD player and advanced audio settings were unavailable throughout the EVO 1 model. There were no connectivity options such as Bluetooth or USB ports due to their unavailability at that time. Smartphone integration was also out of the question in 1992.

The display consisted of a display for controlling radio and audio settings. It was not touch-powered and had low-resolution graphics. Also, GPS navigation was not available at that time; hence, it was unavailable in Evo 1.

Space and Storage in Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 1

The storage and space options inside the Evo 1 also indicate it is below on the priority list. However, it is not as discouraging as the infotainment system. The seating space looked very similar to an average Sedan. As mentioned, the front row had sport Recaro bucket seats for lateral support in aggressive drives. The rear seats had limited space and, hence, were not as comfortable as a regular passenger car. Their legroom was pretty limited, making them unsuitable for adult passengers.

In terms of cargo space, the Evo 1 had a decent-sized trunk. It did not cater to immense cargo space needs. The focus of manufacturers was to enhance the performance by reducing the weight to the most possible extent. However, the cargo space was sufficient to carry rally equipment, which aligns with the core purpose of Evo 1. The storage spaces inside the interior cabin were also exact, limiting to the essential glovebox and a small centre console to keep small items.

Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 1’s stand among competitors

By now, it is easy to establish that the Lancer Evo 1 was a win-win option in terms of performance but surely an underachiever regarding passenger comfort and advanced technology. So, it would be unjust to compare Evo 1 with a rally-inspired car of the modern era. In its time, Evo 1 posed tough competition for the Subaru Impreza  WRX, Ford Escort RS Cosworth, Toyota Celica GT-Four, Audi Quattro and many more rally-inspired entries of big names in the automotive market of the 90s.

Out of all these competitors, the rivalry of Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 1 and Subaru Impreza  WRX STI gained particular attention in the 90s. These two cars competed head to head in rally events and the market. However, the Evo 1 always stood apart from the crowd of its competitors because of the sports DNA of Mitsubishi. This racing heritage of Evo 1 contributed to its popularity and fanbase in the 90s.

The most significant limitation posed by Lancer Evo 1 was that it acted to a small fraction of the population, i.e., people who were into rallying and motorsports. A large chunk of the population in the 90s looked for comfort and ability to accommodate in a car. Lancer Evo 1 did not fit perfectly in the latter frame of requirement; however, it outshined the former requirement frame.


  • High-performance engine
  • Lightweight construction
  • Sports-tuned suspension
  • Performance-focused interior


  • Limited comfort
  • Rough ride


Lancer Evo 1 VariantResale Price
GSR$15,000 TO $30,000
RS$20,000 to $40,000
Drive Abilities

The rally-bred heritage of Lancer Evo 1 made it specific in its drive abilities. The power division in all four wheels provided a stable driving environment, allowing it to perform well on various terrains such as gravel, tarmac and off-road conditions. The turbocharged engine also provided exceptional performance by generating vigorous acceleration, which aligned with the motorsport usage of Evo 1. Another notable characteristic in the section of drive abilities included the high-performing brakes with quick stopping power critical to rally driving. The steering column also provided reasonable tilt, a characteristic specific to rally racing.


Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 1 was well-received by rally enthusiasts who appreciated it for its high performance, exceptional power and stability on various terrains. Evo 1 also played a significant role in making Mistubishi’s mark in the World Rally Championship and in the sedan market as well. However, the latter contribution of Evo 1 was not as prominent as the former. A layman looking for a regular car was not very impressed by the interior of Evo 1 as it simply did not align with average household and commute needs. However, it is safe to say that Evo 1 created a dedicated fanbase that stood by Mitsubishi throughout the Evolution series of Mitsubishi Lancer.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 1 still in production?

No, the production of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 1 and the entire Evolution series was officially discontinued in 2016, with the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X (Evo X) being the last.

How many versions of the Evo 1 were produced?

The Evo 1 had two main versions with minor changes: the General Sports Rally (GSR ) and Rally Sports (RS).

What is the significance of the Evo 1 in motorsport?

The Evo 1 and subsequent models in the Evolution series had a prominent presence in the World Rally Championship (WRC) and other motorsport events, earning a reputation for Mitsubishi and the Lancer Evolution series collectively.

Written by: Motorcardata

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