- The Washington Times - Friday, December 3, 1999

What a drive I had in the new 2000 Mitsubishi Eclipse. The Northern California coastline, with all its twists and turns, has never been so much fun.
I’m not a stranger to this area; I have been over these roads many times but not in an Eclipse. En route I had the opportunity to compare the three 2000 year models. The RS is the base model and sells for $17,697; the GS model goes for $19,047 and the GT is either $20,187 or $21,187, depending upon the choice of two transmissions: a five-speed manual or the four-speed automatic Sportronic.
The wiggly up-and-down roads made the Sportronic ideal for the ride from San Francisco to Bodega Bay. Just a nudge of the shifter and I could go from third gear to fourth or third to second or whatever. The frequency of the many turns demanded quick shifting, which made the ride a very enjoyable event. When driving at a more relaxed pace, I simply used the automatic version of the transmission, sat back and enjoyed the ride.
Another advantage of this automatic transmission is the feature of variable shift logic and “learned control.” With the gear in the Drive position, the transmission figures out how I like to drive. When I was in a “laid back” mood, the shifts were made at lower engine speed that provided better gas mileage and a smoother ride. Another feature of the shift logic is the computer could sense how frequently I would brake going downhill and adjust the shocks accordingly. It would also use similar logic when driving uphill.
When I became aggressive, shifting would take place a bit later, allowing me to get the most out of the engine’s higher revolutions. This is the high-tech performance that one might expect of a sports car costing twice the price. To enjoy this type of performance in a $20,000-range car is notable.
Another reason I enjoyed the GT model is this sporty hatchback coupe is equipped with a 3-liter V-6 engine. It produces both 205 horsepower and torque enabling quick response. However, acceleration, speed and shifting aren’t the most enjoyable features. What I enjoyed most was the steering and handling.
Steering and handling also involved the driver’s seat and exactly how I fit into it. The GT model has leather power-operated front seats that allowed me to cozy my backside into much more comfortable positions compared to RS or GS models, which do not have leather. Incidentally, the lower-price models don’t have side air bags or anti-lock brakes, nor are they available as options.
Sitting behind the wheel of the GT, the steering felt very precise, not only on the straightaway but in sharp turns. Mitsubishi engineers told me they had re-engineered the entire suspension systems of all three models for better response.
Although I was able to stop and switch vehicles, I did not become seat weary. Again, this is due to the overhaul of the struts, front springs, shocks and tires.
The 2000 Eclipse is not just a face lift, it is an entire makeover, including the design. The side panels now have ribs that give the car a stronger, more powerful look. Some models have a spoiler adding to its sporty appearance.
The interior has a new look with a titaniumlike material on the doors and around the shifter. To complement this material, the instruments have a similar metallic appearance, but it doesn’t work because it causes unwanted reflection.
What is clearly reflected in the new Eclipse is a well engineered, stylish car that makes any wiggly road an enjoyable event.
MOTOR MATTERS

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