The Lancer platform was completely changed in 1996, and along with it, the Evolution, which had become extremely popular throughout the world. The engine and transaxle were rotated 180° to better balance the weight and eliminate torque steer.
There were two versions available, the RS and GSR. The RS version was produced as a competition car with a limited-slip front differential and a friction type LSD at the rear. It also came with GLX seats and a choice of either 16″ or 17″ OZ lightweight racing wheels. The RS also had wind up windows, optional air conditioning in some models, and a few extra brace bars to strengthen the chassis, one behind the front grill another across the boot floor and an aluminum rear strut tower brace.
The GSR and the RS shared a new twin scroll turbocharger which helped to improve response and increase power to 280 PS (206 kW; 276 hp) at 6,500 rpm and 330 N⋅m (243 lb⋅ft) torque at 4,000 rpm. Mitsubishi’s new Active Yaw Control appeared as a factory standard on the GSR model, which used steering, throttle input sensors and g sensors to computer-hydraulically control torque split individually to the rear wheels and as a result, the 10,000 Evolution IVs produced all sold quickly.
The Evolution IV can be distinguished by its two large fog lights in the front bumper (option on RS version), and the newly designed tail lights on the rear, which became a standard design to Evolution V, which would become yet another trademark of the Evolution series, note the RS has no light mounts on the boot/trunk for further weight saving.
This new generation was slightly heavier than previous Evo’s—the GSR in particular due to the added technology systems—but to counter this the car produced even more power—the weight of the RS being 1,260 kg (2,778 lb) and the GSR being 1,345 kg (2,965 lb) (Sunroof model 1,370 kg (3,020 lb)).
Much of the technical improvements for this generation were also used in the second generation Mitsubishi RVR originally sold only in Japan but since exported to Australia and New Zealand. The Evolution IV was the last model to be considered “compact” according to Japanese dimension regulations.
- RS – “Rally Sport” – Shortened close-ratio 5-speed transmission, minimal interior, front worm gear LSD and rear 1.5 way LSD, front end crossbar, 15″ steel rims, Lancer GLXi Front Seats (non-bucket seats), manual windows and mirrors. (Optional: manual Air Conditioner, PIAA front fog lights, Anti-Lock Braking System, Lamco-Mitsubishi boost gauge.)
- GSR – “Gran Sport Racing” – 5-speed transmission, AYC (Active Yaw Control), Anti-Lock Braking System, black-red Recaro front bucket seats, Full Auto Air Conditioner, double-din audio with rear windscreen integrated antenna, PIAA front fog lights, power windows, 16″ OZ Racing F1 wheels, rear windscreen wiper, optional: sunroof, Lamco-Mitsubishi boost gauge.