The Evolution was originally intended only for Japanese markets but demand on the 'grey import' market led the Evolution series to be offered through RalliArt dealer networks in the United Kingdom and in various European markets from around 1998. Mitsubishi decided to export the eighth generation Evolution to the United States in 2003 after witnessing the success Subaru had in that market with their Impreza WRX, a direct competitor in other global regions.
Japanese-spec cars were limited by a gentleman's agreement to advertise no more than 276 hp (205 kW), a self imposed limit, 280hp (210kW) by the state, a mark already reached by Evolution IV. Therefore, each subsequent version has unofficially evolved above the advertised power figures, with the Japanese-spec Evolution IX reaching a real power output of around 321PS (317hp/236kW).
Various versions available in other markets, particularly the UK, have official power outputs up to 405 bhp (302 kW). Even standard components are considered 'tuned' compared to other vehicles. For instance, the flywheel on normal cars weigh about 12-15 kilograms (26-33 pounds), but Evolution flywheels weigh a mere 6 kilograms (13 pounds) for very quick engine response.
In 2008, the latest generation Lancer Evolution X was launched worldwide, and featured an all-new 291 hp (217 kW) inline four-cylinder turbocharged engine and a full-time all wheel drive powertrain.
The Evolution I was introduced in 1992 to compete in the World Rally Championship. It used the 2.0L turbocharged DOHC engine and 4WD drivetrain from the original Galant VR-4 in a Lancer chassis, and was sold in GSR and RS models. The latter was a stripped-down club racing version that lacked power windows and seats, anti-lock brakes, a rear wiper, and had steel wheels to save approximately 155lb (70kg) less than the 2,730 lb (1,238 kg) GSR, while the former came with all of the conveniences of a typical street car. It came with Mitsubishi's 4G63 engine producing 250 PS (244hp/182 kW) at 6000 rpm and 228 ft·lbf (309N·m) at 3000 rpm, along with all wheel drive which would become a trademark on all Evolution models. 5,000 of the first generation Evolutions were sold between 1992 and 1993.