The Pajero Evolution came to existence knee deep in the 90s, when for car manufacturers, any sort of racing pedigree meant the company is trying to show off new technological advancements in tought endurance races that rendered cars either faster or reliable enough to finish the whole race with still half a tank of gas left, boundaries were meant to be broken. Mitsubishi on the other hand, was already setting up rallying benchmarks with their Lancer Evolution, this time they also decided to sign up their short wheelbase Pajero to the Dakar Rally T2 class, which if you are not familiar with, is a race that starts in France and ends in Africa.
Mitsubishi made only 2500 road legal models for the public from 1997 to 1999. No, let me rephrase that; Mitsubishi was bound to make approximately 2500 units for the public due to homologation rules set from the Dakar rally event, which was not exactly the car from the race, but a more toned down version of the Pajero Evo, which was almost the same hooligan, but road legal, and even today, these cars remain a bargain to get; which is appreciated by enthusiasts who often refrain to pay extra charges that come with homologation and race wins.
The Pajero Evolution is a short wheelbase Pajero with an upgraded 3.5L V6 GDI (Gasoline Direct Injection) engine with their variable valve timing (MIVEC) technology, paired with a five speed automatic Tiptronic gearbox pushing about 206 kW and 347 Nm of torque. Other than that, Mitsubishi also gave the car dual wishbone suspension at the front, multi-link independent shocks in the rear, a faster, more precise steering, and an overall tougher chassis with extra weld points and anti roll bars.
The design of the car has a strong footprint of the era it came out in, notably the side arches which are wider and larger, and the hood scoop on the Evo model, which the basic Pajero is missing. The Pajero evolution also sits slightly higher than the normal model, which maximized ground clearance of the car.
The wing at the back of the car is spectacular, where two wedge like shapes tend to redirect the aero. Climb inside the Pajero Evo, and you can see that the car has tighter Recaro seats than the normal version, where also it is said that the sitting position is higher than any Pajero that came out at the time.
Mitsubishi dominated the Dakar Rally T2 class with the Pajero Evo starting from 1985, where the car received third place overall and in 1998, the Pajero Evo finished 1-2-3-4 overall, and this was just the start of the winning streak.
Mitsubishi went to win back to back races in Dakar from 2001 to 2007 with the third generation of the Pajero Evo; which was the same car but with upgraded suspension components.
To this day, no car manufacturer came even close to what Mitsubishi achieved with their rally SUV, but after many hurdles to survive as a manufacturing company, Mitsubishi, sadly keeps its racing pedigree from any association with its current vehicle lineup;
where everyday car enthusiasts want a new Evolution, does not matter whether it’s a Pajero or a Lancer.