|March 2001–January 2003
|2.0L (4G63) I4
|2625 mm (103.3 in)
|4455 mm (175.4 in)
|1770 mm (69.7 in)
|1450 mm (57.1 in)
|1320 kg (2910 lb)–1400 kg (3086 lb)
In 2001, Mitsubishi was forced by the FIA to race in the WRC using WRC rules for building a car instead of the Group A class rules, and thus did not need to follow homologation rules. The Evolution VII was based on the larger Lancer Cedia platform and as a result gained more weight over the Evolution VI, but Mitsubishi made up for this with multiple important chassis tweaks. The biggest change was the addition of an active center differential and a more effective limited-slip differential, while a front helical limited-slip differential was added. Torque was increased again to 284 ft·lbf (385 N·m) with engine tweaks that allowed greater airflow, and horsepower officially remained at 280 PS (276 hp/206 kW). Despite its ‘pedestrian’ appearance, the Evolution VII can outrun many more expensive cars (such as the Ferrari 360 Modena, as seen in Best Motoring videos.)
The introduction of the Evolution VII also marked the first time an automatic drivetrain was included within the model lineup—the GT-A. Seen as the ‘gentleman’s express’ version of the visually similar VII GSR, the GT-A model was only produced in 2002 and had the following distinguishing interior and exterior specification: GT-A-only diamond cut finish 17-inch (430 mm) alloy wheels, clear rear light lenses and all-in-one style front headlights (later used on the Evolution VIII).
The GT-A had the option of either no spoiler, the short spoiler (as later used on the Evolution VIII 260) or the thunderspoiler as used on the standard Evolution VII models. The most distinguishing feature was a smooth bonnet with no air-grills on it at all. Although offering inferior cooling capabilities, the bonnet was designed to give a cleaner line through the air with less air resistance at motorway speeds.
Interior could be specified with factory options of a deluxe velour interior, full leather or the Recaro sports seats. The GT-A interior was different in that it had chromed door handles, a different instrument panel (to show the gear selection) and chrome edged bezels around the speedo and tach. The GT-A also had additional sound deadening installed from the factory and the engine manifold and downpipe had been engineered to be quieter.
The 5-speed automatic gearbox had what Mitsubishi called “fuzzy logic”, which meant that the car would learn what the driver’s driving characteristics were like and would adapt the gear change timings and kick down reactions accordingly. The gears could be manually selected as with most tiptronics via steering wheel + and – buttons (a pair both sides) or via selecting the tiptronic gate with the gear lever. Power was down a little from the standard manual cars with a very usable 272 bhp (203 kW). The GT-A gearbox did not appear again in the Evolution VIII but has been installed in the estate version of the Evolution IX Wagon.