2010 Mitsubishi Eclipse Road Test Review

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Popularity for sport coupes is a mercurial thing.  At the moment, two-doors are out, as buyers buckle down and focus on more practical vehicles that are good looking, and can also tote a family and cargo.  The trend in speedy two-doors is toward resurrected rear-wheel drive muscle cars, and the front-drive hot rods that were all the rage four or five years ago are all but forgotten.  Has the Mitsubishi Eclipse been passed over by the changing winds of automotive fashion? 

Well, not exactly.  The Eclipse retains its curvy, futuristic looks in the face of the retro brigade from Ford, Chevrolet, Dodge and Nissan, and it's sticking to front-wheel drive while competitors like the Hyundai Genesis Coupe have gone over to rear-wheel drive.  For 2010, the Eclipse distinguishes itself with additional comfort and convenience items and a revised front and rear aspect.  The soft-topped Eclipse Spyder is still available as well. 

The current-generation Eclipse didn't look like anything else on the road when it first hit the streets in 2006, and that remains true now.  The styling is laid back to the extreme, with short overhangs front and rear and a windshield slope so steep that it could've been inspired by Lamborghini.  The newly restyled front end features a large jet intake-inspired grille similar to that worn by the Evolution sports sedan, and projector-style headlamps.  The greenhouse and passenger cabin are but a bump in the arched silhouette, and at the rear the Eclipse gets clear taillights and a dual exhaust on V6 models.  Eclipse GT models feature a rear spoiler and HID headlamps.  There's not a single piece of chrome on the Eclipse, except for the Mitsubishi badges; this car is sleek, monochromatic and purposeful. 

Sports cars are frequently visibility-challenged, especially when the design is uncompromisingly aerodynamic.  The Eclipse is a surprise in this respect.  Good front and side visibility is aided by narrow A-pillars and a lot of glass.  There are some good-sized blind spots to the rear, but the Eclipse remains easy to drive.  The cockpit is comfortable for two, and offers short-distance seating for four.  Most of the space is lavished on the front passengers, of course. 

Mitsubishi has always taken pride in allowing its owners to blast the tunes, and the Eclipse's optional 650-watt Rockford-Fosgate sound system is more than adequate for the task.  The nine-speaker audio powerhouse includes a ten-inch subwoofer in the cargo hold.  It eats into the 444 litres (15.7 cubic feet) of cargo space a bit, but the Eclipse isn't about getting groceries anyway.  Sirius Satellite Radio is available as well. 

Engine choices include a 2.4-litre four-cylinder and a long-legged 3.8-litre V6.  The Eclipse GT's V6 gains two horsepower thanks to the new dual exhaust system, bringing its output to 265 horsepower.  Both engines feature Mitsubishi's MIVEC variable valve timing and four-valve, single overhead cam construction.  A quick drive in the 162-horsepower four-cylinder equipped Eclipse GS shows that the more economical Eclipse is entertaining around town as well, with a broad powerband that's surprisingly well-suited to the optional four-speed automatic.  Both Eclipse grades come with manual transmissions as standard--a five-speed in the four-cylinder GS and a six-speed in the six-cylinder GT.  The GT's available autobox is a five-speed. 

Road manners are very good; the Eclipse is less hard-edged than some sport coupes, but that just means it's easy to live with.  The fully independent suspension uses MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link rear, and offers a good blend of around-town comfort with twisty-road reflexes.  Stepping up to the Eclipse GT adds stiffer anti-roll bars, and an under-hood strut tower bar to add a bit more sharpness to the car's responsiveness.  Mitsubishi's Active Suspension Control is now standard on the Eclipse GT.  Antilock brakes and a tire pressure monitoring system are standard across the board. 

The Eclipse has been a stalwart of the sports-car scene for many years now, and its "attainable-exotic" styling still stands out on the road.  It's an affordable grand-touring car for two, with comfortable freeway manners and enough performance--even in four-cylinder form--to make getting around town entertaining.  Eclipse pricing starts at $25,998 for the four-cylinder, manual transmission-equipped GS model.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Sports Coupe, Mitsubishi, 2010, Eclipse, $20,000 - $29,999, $30,000 - $39,999,

Organizations: Mitsubishi

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