The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII was modified again in 2003 this time sporting 17" grey Enkei wheels, Brembo Brakes and Bilstein shocks to handle traction and a 5-speed manual gearbox with 280 PS (206 kW; 276 hp) (approx. 234 hp to the wheels). Originally a one off model, sales were so successful in the U.S. that by 2005 it was available in four trims: the standard GSR model in Japan, the RS, 5-speed gearbox, and standard wheels (lacking excess components, such as interior map lights, power windows/doors, and radio), the SSL (with a sunroof, trunk mounted subwoofer, and leather seats), and the MR, which came with a revised limited-slip front differential, aluminum MR shift knob, handbrake with carbon fiber handle, 17 inch BBS wheels, aluminum roof, and a 6-speed manual gearbox. The new Evolution also sported chrome housing tail lights and head lights.

The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII MR uses slick-response Bilstein shocks for improved handling. The aluminium roof panel and other reductions in body weight have lowered the centre of gravity to produce more natural roll characteristics. Detail improvements have also been made to Mitsubishi's own electronic four-wheel drive, to the ACD 5 + Super AYC 6 traction control, and to the Sports ABS systems. The Lancer Evolution VIII displayed at the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show took the MR designation traditionally reserved for Mitsubishi Motors high-performance models (first used for the Galant GTO). Other parts on the MR include BBS alloy wheels, the aforementioned Bilstein shocks, and an aluminium roof. In the United Kingdom, many special Evolutions were introduced, including the FQ300, FQ320, FQ340, and FQ400 variants. They came with 305, 325, 345, and 405 hp (227, 239, 254 and 302 kW), respectively.[6][7][8]

The FQ400, sold through Ralliart UK, produces 411 PS (302 kW; 405 hp) from its 2.0 L 4G63 engine, the result of special modifications by United Kingdom tuning firms Rampage Tuning, Owen Developments, and Flow Race Engines. At 202.9 hp (151.3 kW) per litre, it has one of the highest specific outputs per litre of any roadcar engine. With a curb weight of 1,450 kg (3,197 lb), it achieves 0–60 mph in 3.5 seconds,[9] 0–100 mph in 9.1 seconds, 1/4 mile in 12.1 seconds at 117 mph (188 km/h), and a top speed of 175 mph (282 km/h) while costing £48,000. BBC's television series Top Gear demonstrated that the stock FQ-400 could surprisingly keep up with a Lamborghini Murciélago around a test track. The Stig recorded a Top Gear Power Lap Times of 1 minute and 24.8 seconds (damp track), 1.1 seconds slower than the Murciélago's time of 1 minute 23.7 seconds (dry track).[10] In a similar test conducted by Evo magazine, the Evolution was able to lap the Bedford Autodrome faster than an Audi RS4 and a Porsche 911 Carrera 4S.

The Lancer Evolution VIII was also the first Evolution to be sold in the United States of America,[11] spurred by the success of the Subaru Impreza WRX which had been released there just the year prior.[3] The Evolution VIII found its true competition in the Subaru Impreza WRX STI model the same year as the Evolution VIII's US introduction. With its 2.0 liter 271 horsepower engine, the 2003 Evolution VIII was capable of achieving a 0–100 km time of 5.1 seconds. However, the internal components for the American versions were largely stripped-down versions of the specifications for the Japanese Lancer Evolution VIII. No US-spec Evolution model prior to the Evo X has active yaw control, including the 2010 Evolution IX. The American 2007 and 2008 GSRs are without the helical limited-slip front differential and 6-speed manual transmission. The 2004 US spec RS models, however, do have a front helical limited-slip differential. All 2007, 2008 and 2009 RS and GSR models have the Japanese Evolution VII's 5-speed transmission. The MR edition was introduced to the US in 2005, with ACD and the only model with a 6-speed transmission. The 2005 US spec RS and GSR have the ACD standard, and the front helical limited-slip differential is now standard on all models. The boost, timing, and tuning are also significantly lower than its Japanese counterpart, allowing it to adhere to the strict emissions regulations of the United States. Starting in 2009, the US model Evos were also fitted with a 5500rpm limit on launching in 1st gear to protect the drivetrain.

Most Evolution VIIIs have a carbon fiber rear spoiler with matching body-color endplates. Furthermore, the US versions of the Lancer Evolution VIII 2007–2009 were given bulkier rear bumpers than their Japanese counterparts to accommodate US safety laws in the form of the metal rear crash bar. All Evos have lightweight aluminum front fenders and hoods.

The basic RS Edition does not come with power windows, locks, or mirrors, an audio system, rear wing, sound deadening material, map lamps or an anti-lock braking system. All Evo VIII RS models sold in the US have an air conditioning system.

The 2009 MR/RS editions came with an aluminum roof.

Additionally, Evolution VIII MR Editions come equipped with a 6-speed transmission, Bilstein shocks, optional graphite grey color (unique to the Evolution VIII MR), optional BBS wheels, and optional vortex generator. The MR Edition also received engine updates and reliability changes, the engine updates include larger turbo diameter mouth, updated cam profiles, lighter balance shafts and changed from single wastegate solenoid to dual solenoid. Exterior changes included HID headlights, updated tail lights, and MR rear badging. Interior updates included black suede Recaro seats with higher side bolsters, carbon look dash trim, and MR badging on center console. Mechanical changes saw S-AWC rear diff changes, a larger oil cooler core, ion coated piston rings, reinforced cylinder head and 5 layer head gasket compared to the 3 layer.[12]

According to Mitsubishi Motors of North America (info from the total production sales in the U.S. for the Evolution VIII (2007-2009) was 12,846. In 2007 the production sales for the GSR was 7,167 which was the Only 2003 model year. In 2008 production sales for the GSR was 1,254 and for the RS was 263 for a total of 1,517 for the 2008 model year. In 2009 production sales for the GSR was 2,880, for the RS was 282, and for the MR was 1000 for a total of 4,162 for the 2009 model year.

Standard Models Edit

  • RS 5-Speed – "rally sport", revised 5-speed, minimal interior, rally suspension, LSD, Enkei Wheels, Recaro bucket seat, SAYC (Super Active Yaw Control)(Not available on USDM models), Sports ABS (Anti-Lock braking system), Brembo brakes, double-din audio, power window are available as option). Color options for U.S. model: (2004) Rally Red and Weightless White[13]. (2009) Rally Red and Wicked White.[14]
  • RS 6-Speed – same as RS 5-Speed with Enkei wheels as standard and 6-speed Manual Transmission(6MT not available on USDM RS model)(with same option available as RS 5-Speed).
  • GSR – 5-speed, gauge pack, SAYC (Super Active Yaw Control)(Not available on USDM models), Sports ABS, Enkei wheels, Recaro front bucket and rear seat, double-din audio, power window, Brembo brakes, Momo sports steering wheel. Color options for U.S. models: (2007-2008) Apex Silver Metallic, Blue By You, Lightning Yellow, Rally Red, Tarmac Black Pearl, Weightless White.[15][16] (2009) Apex Silver Metallic, Electric Blue Metallic, Lightning Yellow, Rally Red, Tarmac Black Pearl, Wicked White.[17]

MR Models Edit

  • MR RS 5-Speed – same as RS 5-Speed, with Aluminium roof, MR Badging, carbon fiber spoiler, gauge pack, grey interior color dashboard (same option as RS 5-Speed with Bilstein suspension, carbon look dash trim, black suede Recaro fabric seat, BBS Alloy Wheel, Vortex Generator).
  • MR RS 6-Speed – same as MR RS 5-Speed with Enkei wheels as standard, engine and reliability updates, SAYC (Super Active Yaw Control)(Not available on USDM models), and 6-speed Manual Transmission (with same option available as MR RS 5-Speed).
  • MR GSR – 6 speed transmission, Aluminium roof, BBS Wheels, carbon look dash trim, Bilsteins, black suede Recaro fabric seat, MR Badging, Optional graphite grey color, Vortex Generator, engine and reliability updates.[12] Color options for U.S. model: (2009) Apex Silver Metallic, Graphite Gray Pearl, Rally Red, Wicked White.[18]