For the 2006 model year, Mitsubishi brings the Eclipse sport coupe into its fourth generation and promises futuristic styling and dynamic handling capabilities with this car. Two trim levels are available: GS and GT. A new 3.8-liter V-6 goes into the GT model and replaces the former 3.0-liter V-6.
Dan Sims, Mitsubishi's design director, says the Eclipse comes in eye-catching colors that stand out on the road. Equipped with six standard airbags, Eclipse coupes went on sale in late spring 2005. An Eclipse Spyder convertible is scheduled to debut in spring 2006.
Design touches include a split grille flanked by monocle headlights. In profile, the Eclipse displays an arched roofline and what Mitsubishi calls flexed surfaces. An integrated rear spoiler is standard, and a large stainless-steel tailpipe is installed on the GT coupe. Evocative body colors include UV Blue and Rotor-Glow Pearl.
For the first time, the Eclipse's unibody uses a flat, stamped cross-member structure. The rigid construction combines with a wider track to improve handling and stability but not diminish ride comfort. MacPherson struts are used in the front suspension, while a multilink configuration goes in the rear. Front and rear stabilizer bars are installed. Aluminum-alloy wheels hold 17-inch tires, but GT coupes can be equipped with seven-spoke 18-inch wheels. Built on a 101.4-inch wheelbase, the Eclipse is 179.7 inches long overall.
High-back sport front seats in the four-passenger cabin contain integrated head restraints. The driver faces a four-spoke steering wheel and a soft-touch instrument panel. Motorcycle-inspired gauges are backlit in blue.
Three interior color schemes are available: Techno-Sports (charcoal), Hi-Q (medium gray) and Avant-Garde (terra cotta). Cargo volume totals 15.7 cubic feet.
Standard equipment includes air conditioning, keyless entry, cruise control, power windows and locks, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a 140-watt six-speaker CD stereo. The eight-way manually adjustable driver's seat incorporates adjustable lumbar support, and the 50/50-split rear seatback folds down. A Premium Sport Package for the GT coupe adds heated leather front seating surfaces, automatic climate control, heated mirrors, aluminum pedals and a Rockford Fosgate audio system.
Under the Hood
The GS coupe is powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that produces 162 horsepower and 162 pounds-feet of torque; it teams with a five-speed-manual or four-speed-automatic transmission. The GT's 3.8-liter V-6 develops 263 hp and 260 pounds-feet of torque. The V-6 can work with either a six-speed-manual gearbox or a five-speed automatic. Each automatic transmission incorporates Sportronic, which permits manually selectable gear changes.
Six standard airbags include the required frontal-impact airbags, seat-mounted side-impact devices to protect front occupants and front-seat side curtain-type airbags. Antilock brakes are also standard.
The Eclipse has long been known for sporty looks and behavior. The sleek, spirited 2006 model takes those attributes a step further along the performance spectrum. Steering and handling are the coupe's primary talents. The GT maneuvers with precision, going just where it's pointed while staying impressively flat and stable.
Mitsubishi's 3.8-liter V-6 emits a satisfying exhaust rumble when accelerating. Able to change gears with the flick of a finger, the six-speed gearbox makes an excellent match for the V-6 and works neatly with the eager-to-engage clutch. Seriously energetic takeoffs come easily, and the Eclipse GT passes and merges with confidence — though being in the wrong gear can curtail reactions a bit.
The ride is easy on smooth surfaces, but rougher pavement induces jumpiness. Still, the taut suspension recovers promptly from each jolt.
The snugly bolstered seats are inviting, comfortable and highly supportive. Front-seat space is sufficient, but forget the backseat unless you're small and limber. Entry into the front isn't as difficult as it initially appears, apart from a possible stoop to clear the roof. Over-the-shoulder visibility is minimal, and rearward visibility wins no prizes either, due to the severely sloped hatch glass. The appearance of the gauges is a bit odd, and markings on the climate-control knobs are hard to see.
Cars.com Expert Reviews
|Joe Wiesenfelder||Cars.com National||August 8, 2005|
|Jim Flammang||Cars.com National||July 6, 2005|
|Bob Golfen||AZCentral.com||December 10, 2005|
|Tom Strongman||KansasCity.com||November 5, 2005|
|G. Chambers Williams III||Star-Telegram.com||November 2, 2005|
|Matt Nauman||TheMercuryNews.com||August 26, 2005|
|Steven Cole Smith||Orlando Sentinel||August 18, 2005|
|Mark Glover||The Sacramento Bee||August 5, 2005|
|Anita Lienert||The Detroit Newspapers||July 20, 2005|
|Warren Brown||washingtonpost.com||July 10, 2005|
|G. Chambers Williams III||Star-Telegram.com||June 22, 2005|
|Dan Neil||Los Angeles Times||June 8, 2005|
|Jason Stein||July 10, 2005|
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