The quirky rear spoiler looks like it was borrowed from a Batmobile.

In Mitsubishi’s dictionary, the word “Evolution” is basically synonymous with the “Lancer.” However, there was also the much rarer Pajero Evo of which only 2,500 were ever made during the model’s short life cycle between the years 1997 and 1999. Why precisely that number? Because Mitsubishi had to make at least 2,500 road-legal vehicles in order to homologate the racy off-roader for the grueling Dakar Rally, which it dominated in the T2 class by triumphing in 1997 and 1998.

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Thus the Pajero Evolution was born, complete with a 3.5-liter V6 engine developing 276 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and a maximum torque of 256 pound-feet (347 Newton-meters) from 3,000 rpm. The special edition was created in the so-called era of the “gentleman’s agreement” in Japan during which output was maxed out at 276 hp.

As far as performances are concerned, the run from 0 to 62 mph (100 kph) took a decent eight and a half seconds before the Pajero Evolution reached a top speed of 130 mph (210 kph), which isn’t half bad considering this is a proper off-road vehicle you could probably take to the end of the world and back.

It tipped the scales at more than 4,300 pounds (1,950 kilograms) and had a bespoke aluminum hood. Both front and rear tracks were widened compared to the regular short-wheelbase Pajero, while front and rear Torsen limited-slip differentials were installed. Mitsubishi also developed a long-travel suspension and offered the model with an automatic gearbox like the example featured in the adjacent video, but there was also very rare manual-equipped version.

To make it stand out furthermore from the regular Pajero, Mitsubishi gave the hotter Evolution version a more aggressive body with those funky Batmobile-inspired rear winglets. At the front, the reworked bumper had four fog lights and a prominent skid plate to further enhance the model’s ruggedness. Inside, a pair of body-hugging Recaro seats was installed to complete the package.

A new Evolution with off-road chops could happen in the years to come as the e-Evolution concept unveiled in October 2017 hinted at a high-riding Evo, though Mitsubishi has said a new Evolution-badged production model won't come out until well into the next decade.

Gallery: Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution