Autopolis

The cars we loved.

2006-2011 Mitsubishi Eclipse


 

The Mitsubishi eclipse now in its fourth generation is one of the longest running sport coupe models for sale in America. When  introduced in 1989, there was no shortage of small, light and sporty coupes to choose from. fortunately, for the Eclipse and it’s partner at the time Chrysler, the Eclipse was armed with two special weapons: turbo power and all-wheel drive. The two when combined in the GSX model separated the Eclipse from its competitors while earning the reputation as an all weather performance car. Imediately, the Eclipse found itself at the top of comparison tests featuring the likes of Probes, Celicas and Cavaliers. That was almost 20 years and four generations ago.


None of the cars mention above are still around, but the Eclipse carries on. The current generation introduced in 2006 was a departure from the previous cars standard coupe layout with a proper trunk. As odd (or ugly if you will) as the 2000-2006 Eclipse might have looked, it was the best selling generation since the Eclipse heydays of the mid to late 90’s. Each new Eclipse became bigger as if to match the size of its buyers who increasingly grew out of smaller cars and were more likely to be overweight compared to themselves a decade or so ago. 2006 marked the return to form, well sorta for the Eclipse’s trademark hatchback styling. The car now retained some of the curves that made the 95-99 model so appealing. And just like that car from the 90’s the new Eclipse has grown in size and weight compaired to the previous generation. A V6 equipped GT weighs more than 200lb. than a typical loaded 1999 GSX, not even counting the heavier convertible.

The increased power make the Eclipse only slightly faster than the cars of the 90s, but at the cost of fuel efficienc. A big 3.8 L V6 now powers the front wheels only in the top GT model. At 265 hp the GT is now the most powerful Eclipse ever. Other versions of the car use a 2.4 L inline 4 cylinder that puts out a more modest 162 hp. From some angles the fifth-generation car looks way out there, with its aggressively cab forward green house and rakish shape. It drag coefficient of .34cd betrays its futuristic shape, suggesting more the aerodynamic profile of a suv, not a sport coupe (the 99 Eclipse has a .29cd). While on the subject of SUV’s, Car and Driver stated in a recent road test that the Eclipse was actually wider than a Ford Explorer! It’s easy to make the comparison to older cars, as the automotive press has done, but the numbers speak for themselves. Sales increases have come with the slight tweaking of the design in 2009 and despite its size and fuel appetite, the press seems to like the Eclipse overall, calling it “Two Tons of Fun” in one instance. 

The current Eclipse might be the best looking one in years and its sales can only go up as they have been in a slump recently. Mitsubishi (and others) seem to believe that sport coupes are easiest sold when they are large and comfortable cruisers, in much the way that the Thunderbird and Monte Carlo were decades ago. The emphasis on heft and comfort to accomodate a larger market (literally, not just figuratively) seems to be the trend. I wonder how comfortable many new Eclipse owners would be if they were trying to get into a smaller, cramped Eclipses of the 90s? fortunately, the near future might suggest some signs of change as Honda and Toyota are poised to introduce small, light and efficient coupes with performance in mind. Mitsubishi would do well to spin off some version of the Eclipse as a lightweight inexpensive fun to drive car (Mirage Coupe?), while offering the current car as its sporty float boat coupe for anyone not wanting the 4 door practically of the sporty versions of the Lancer. To its credit, building cars that people want as opposed to what the critics fondly remember is what Mitsubishi seems to be doing, and doing a good job at that. 
  
2009 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT Interior

2009 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT Interior

 

2009 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT

2009 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT

2009 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT 
                                                                                                                    2009 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT
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This entry was posted on January 20, 2010 by in 00's, Mitsubishi.
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