- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 6, 2005

Any problem Mitsubishi has isn’t reflective of their vehicles. They’ve offered a number of excellent automobiles that fulfill the needs and desires of a wide range of buyers. The problem came from some of their marketing and financial tribulations. But it is their cars we are concerned with here.

The new Eclipse represents the life Mitsubishi continues to exude. The Eclipse is, as it always has been, a vehicle aimed at youth. Not just the young in chronological statistics but in attitudes toward motoring. This two door, sports coupe continues to offer exhilarating driving experience without breaking the bank.

The exterior design is more than a minor nip and tuck. While it continues to be quickly identified as an Eclipse, the look is more contemporary and stylish.

The front end is sleek and aerodynamic so much so that it slices through the air with ease. The new design carries a family resemblance of the super trick Evolution VIII. I prefer the view of the car from the front. However, the drivers of most other cars will more than likely see more of the rear of the Eclipse than any other view. A new, transparent fixed spoiler on the deck is unique, but just a little too trendy for me.

The business department of the Eclipse offers two engines that give the car two distinct personalities. The base 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine produces 162 horsepower, and while adequate doesn’t have the barn burner attitude of the V-6. It is a 3.8-liter V-6, with its 263 horsepower and 260 lb-ft. of torque, that gives the Eclipse the performance enthusiasts will appreciate and love.

So it was for me. The 2.4-liter engine has its place and will fill the void for some, but most will want to have the performance and excitement offered by the V-6. What adds to the performance is the broad torque band for this engine. Pull quickly away from a stop and you will feel the power push you back in the seat as the engine revs all the way to the redline.

Four transmissions are offered. A five-speed manual and a four-speed automatic with manual mode are available in the GS. While a five-speed automatic and, my favorite, a six-speed manual can be outfitted to the GT Eclipse. The six-speed works well in giving that true sports car feel while extending the fuel consumption. Working through the six gears gives you plenty of room to play with the performance. Of course if you need to be able to handle that commute to and from work, the automatics work well and they both have a manual mode so you can still be in control of choosing the gears.

The interior is well laid out with every control in an easy to use position. The front bucket seats are firm and supportive keeping you firmly implanted in your spot. Even though Mitsubishi has stretched the room for the rear seat, I would reserve this spot for the younger folks in your group, the very young.

There is considerable rumble in the compartment, but it seems to come more from the tires depending on what the road surface is made from. Wind noise is evident but not overly intrusive.

The new exterior design brings the Eclipse into a more contemporary position and since it has held the resident spot for being the affordable sports coupe in North America, it must stay fresh. How much more can Mitsubishi withstand in their financial muck is yet to be seen. However, going on face value, the new Eclipse should succeed in getting buyers into showrooms.

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