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Mitsubishi introduced the Lancer Evolution IX in Japan on March 3, 2005, and exhibited the car at the Geneva Motor Show for the European market the same day. The North American markets saw the model exhibited at the New York International Auto Show the following month. The 2.0 L 4G63 engine has MIVEC technology (variable valve timing), and a revised turbocharger design boosting official power output at the crankshaft to 291 PS (214 kW; 287 hp) and torque to 392 N·m (289 lb·ft).
The USDM Lancer Evolution IX models: standard (Grand Sport Rally or "GSR" in some markets), RS (Rally Sport), SE (Special Edition) and MR (Mitsubishi Racing) varied slightly in their performance capabilities. Subtleties unique to each model accounted for variations in acceleration, handling and top speed. The RS excluded features standard on the standard, SE and MR models (stereo system, power windows and locks, rear wiper, rear wing, trunk lining and sound insulation). The result is a weight savings of over 60 lb (27 kg). The fuel capacity remains the same as the Evo VIII at 14 USgal (53 L).
Although the RS is the lightest of the group, the RS did not manage to outperform the standard IX and the MR around a road course (even if only by fractions of a second). This was purported to be due to the lack of a rear wing on the RS. In a drag race, the three models are all about even. The times for the quarter miles ranged from 12.4 to 12.7 seconds. The RS model was produced for rally and racing teams who wanted a platform to build a race car from. It is stripped of all the creature comforts, and other upgrades that drive the price up for features that the race teams would not require.
The IX MR retained the features of the Evolution VIII MR, like Bilstein shocks, a 6-speed manual transmission, a rooftop vortex generator, BBS forged wheels, HID xenon headlights, foglights, accessory gauge package, "zero lift" kit, special badging and an aluminum roof. All models continued to sport Recaro bucket seats, Brembo brakes and Momo steering wheels. Additional revisions from 2005 included a closer gear ratio for the 5-speed manual transmission, new lighter Enkei wheels on non-MR models, a redesigned front end with a more efficient air dam (the most noticeable feature are the two small oval ducts to cool the intercooler pipes), and a new rear bumper with a diffuser undersurface to smooth out the airflow coming out of the car for non-US models. In an effort to reduce the price increase on the Evolution IX model, HID headlights were no longer standard equipment on the base IX (nor were they standard on the 2005 VIII), and were available only in the SSL package (Sun, Sound, and Leather), SE (Special Edition) and MR trims.