Mitsubishi Eclipse

The Starion era has finally passed away. As the Eclipse has been renewed, Mitsubishi has no affordable turbocharged coupe on sale in anywhere anymore. (forget the dying 3000GT) People loved the turbo Eclipse because of its superior straight line performance as well as its tuneabilty, especially with 4-wheel-drive, it could handles up to 300hp. However, the world is always changing and today's people ask for refinement and the handling agility. Some cars go the handling trend, such as Honda's Type R and Nissan Silvia, while the majority pursuits refinement and elegant build. Mercury Cougar, Alfa GTV and Peugeot 406 Coupe are among them. The new Mitsubishi Eclipse also chose the latter trend, and we're going to prove that it is a wrong decision.  

This second generation car shares the basic floor pan and engines with the US version Galant. That means it is larger in all dimensions and gains considerable weight. Compare with our benchmark Silvia R-spec Turbo, the Eclipse GT is 55 mm wider and 25 mm taller. The wheelbase is also 35 mm longer. On the scale the difference is even larger : the Eclipse is 1420kg, versus Silvia's 1250kg. This immediately reflect in the stop watch. It sprints to 60 mph in 7.1sec, not only slower than the old car but also trails the Silvia by 1 and a half second, or 1 second more than Fiat Coupe turbo, or half a second behind the similar Alfa GTV V6. 

So forget the old car. We see it as the kind of Cougar and 406 Coupe. One important aspect of assessing such cars is styling. The Cougar has New Edge, the 406 Coupe and GTV has Pininarina. What the Mitsubishi has is the radical thinking from the young stylists in its California design center. Elegant is not American used to emphasis. Instead, they pursue eye-catching, dramatic, dream-car-like styling. The overall organic shape incorporates powerful elements such as the muscular strakes along the doors. Eye-catching in motor show it may be, it is quite questionable if it can withstand the test of time. 

The chassis indicates the company's intention to make the car more civilised. The first to notice is the softer suspension setup which do no favour to the requirement of sharp handling. Steering lost some feel and directness. Then, the lost of 4-wheel-drive accompany with the heavy front engine (thanks to the big iron block) contribute to the nose-heavy behaviour, hence understeer. This make it not a good companion in twisty roads. The front MacPherson strut doesn't always cope well with the power, especially is accelerating out of a tight corner where the inside wheel is ligthened, then wheel spin occurs. 

The 3-litre V6 is sourced from Galant. Though outputting a respectable 200hp and 200lbft it is still a single-overhead camshaft design. Peak power occurs at a lowly 5500rpm, so don't ask too much at high rev. Another engine, a 155hp 2.4-litre four, is easily forgettable. 

Inside, the cabin shows the same design theme as the exterior. There is white dials inside the black dashboard moulding. Quality of plastic seems lagging behind competitors. The design is more "boy racer" than an elegant coupe it intends to be. As before, head room in front is not too generous due to the elliptic roof. Rear seats are just a cramped +2 could have. 

Summing all up, it seems the new Eclipse is eclipsed by many other good coupes. 

The above report was last updated on 8 Aug 99. All Rights Reserved.


Eclipse GT
Front-engined, Fwd
L / W / H / WB: 4455 / 1750 / 1310 / 2560 mm
V6, sohc, 4v/cyl.
2972 c.c.
200 hp
200 lbft
F: strut; R: multi-link
215/50 R17
1420 kg
Top speed
140 mph (estimated)
0-60 mph
7.1 sec*
0-100 mph
18.8 sec*
* Tested by Road & Track

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