A redesigned 2000 Eclipse arrives at dealerships in days.Thank heavens. Eclipse certainly needed a total makeover. We tested the '99 GS-T and found cabin room unbearably cramped. When the road isn't flat, your head will be sore from bouncing off the roof. The rear seat isn't big enough to hold a rear. And that infernal whale-tail spoiler has to go. It looks like a huge hook from which to hang the coupe in the garage. It serves no useful purpose. You couldn't get the Eclipse going fast enough to need a spoiler to prevent rear-end lift. The base '99 Eclipse is powered by a 2-liter, 140-h.p. 4-cylinder and the GS-T comes with a 2-liter, 210-h.p., turbocharged 4 teamed with a less-than-smooth-shifting 5-speed manual. The mileage rating is 23 m.p.g. city/31 m.p.g. highway. The 2000 replacement will be powered by a standard 2.4-liter, 155-h.p. 4-cylinder, and, for the first time, will come with a 3-liter, 205-h.p. V-6 with a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic with Sportronic clutchless manual shifting to replace the turbocharged 4. Sadly, the all-wheel-drive version will be dropped for 2000 because it accounted for only 5 percent of sales. For 2000 Eclipse remains a hatchback with a large glass hatch lid covering not only the rear seat, but a portion of the front seat as well. Front-seat occupants are also treated to a power glass sunroof that moves up and back to provide a wide opening. After years of cramped quarters, owners are entitled to an airy design. The 2000 Eclipse redesign features the same ribbed bodysides as the Pontiac Grand Am. The 4-cylinder comes with 15- or 16-inch tires, the V-6 with 17-inch tires. The new Eclipse coupe is built in Normal, Ill., off the same platform as the Mitsubishi Galant, meaning a 2-inch longer wheelbase and 3-inch added length, but only one-half inch added width. Could use 2 inches. The '99 we tested starts at $23,210. ABS added $716, leather seats $457 and freight $435. The sticker was a shade under $25,000. Mitsubishi says the 2000 with V-6, automatic, leather seats and glass sunroof should go out the door for about $25,000. You'd do well to wait for the 2000. If you want an Eclipse Spyder convertible, wait until 2001.
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