For the 2007 model year, an Eclipse Spyder joins the Eclipse coupe that was redesigned for 2006. Fresh off that redesign, the coupe gets only minor changes, including new colors and option packages.
Design touches include a split grille flanked by monocle headlights. In profile, the Eclipse has 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. New colors for the coupe include Ultra Red Pearl and Sunset Pearlescent.
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.
Although the Spyder's resemblance to the coupe is apparent, particularly in the beltline and the rear end, its retractable top gives the Spyder an identity separate from the teardrop-shaped coupe. The cloth top folds under a tonneau cover that keeps the Spyder's lines clean.
As in the coupe, the grille is bisected by a tapered extension of the bodywork. The Spyder rides on 17-inch wheels, with 18-inch wheels available on the uplevel GT.
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.
In the Spyder, as in any convertible, the backseat has to sacrifice to make room for the top and its machinery. It's tiny back there; don't expect to be able to carry four full-size adults in this car.
Elsewhere, though, the interior is largely the same as in the coupe, including the deep cutouts in the doors that give front-seat riders extra elbowroom. The biggest difference up here is that the car's 650-watt stereo system automatically adjusts the volume when the top is lowered.
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. The Spyder has the same mechanicals as the Eclipse coupe.
The coupe's six standard airbags include the required frontal-impact airbags, seat-mounted side-impact devices to protect front occupants and front-seat side curtain airbags.
The Spyder has four airbags. It loses the side curtain airbags on each side. On the coupe, those are mounted in the door frame, which goes away when a soft-top is added.
Antilock brakes are standard in both the coupe and Spyder.
The Eclipse has long been known for sporty looks and behavior. The sleek, spirited coupe that emerged after the 2006 redesign 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. The Spyder has not gotten a road test yet.
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.