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ALONG CAME A SPYDER

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sat, Jun 17, 2006

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

© All photos by Harvey Schwartz

SPORTS CAR FUN IN THE SUN By HARVEY SCHWARTZ

After the successful launch in 2006 of the all-new Mitsubishi Eclipse GT coupe, Mitsubishi comes back with the all-new 2007 Eclipse GT convertible that features a much-improved electric convertible top that gives a quieter ride when closed and better aesthetic styling when open. Add to this unique, near-exotic car styling, a 260 horsepower V6 engine, six-speed manual transmission, fully independent suspension riding on 18X8. aluminum wheels wrapped with performance tires, all for around $31,000.00, and you have one fun to drive sports car that will get attention wherever you travel. Driving the new Eclipse convertible will certainly draw admirers. The style is very advanced, with soft curves at the corners and a 'tear-drop influenced body shape with a 'wasp-waist' mid-section. The overall shape is like a wedge with muscular haunches. This style gives an athletic feel, with speed and agility. The car looks like it's in motion when parked. The sheet metal is tautly drawn over the car, giving it tension - ready to pounce. Structural highlights include a short hood, fast windshield, a grille that features jet nacelle-inspired grille intakes, and a bumper that flows smoothly into the fender metal. The lower bumper has powerful foglamps at each end, and a big air-intake in between. The unique cats-eye headlamps are cut into the fenders and feature double-filament lamps with a multi-parabola lens and a blue-tint monocle lens. The rear features integral bumpers, LED lighted turns signals, tail, brake and backups, a cut-out for the four-inch wide single exhaust tip, and a clear lip spoiler over the end of the trunk lid. The optional aluminum fuel-filler door gives it an even more racy look.

Like the 2006 coupe, there are two trim levels with the new convertible - the GS with a 2.4-liter MIVEC four-cylinder engine making 162 horsepower at 6,000rpm and 162 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm, while the top-of-the-line GT gets the 3.8-liter MIVEC SOHC 24-valve V6 with cast iron block and aluminum heads that generates 260 horsepower at 5,750 rpm and 258 pound-feet of torque at 4,500 rpm. The Mitsubishi Innovative Variable Timing Electronic Control (MIVEC) system gives both engines a flat torque curve and extra low-end acceleration. Both engines also benefit from Mitsubishi's cold-air intake that channels air directly into the intake increasing horsepower. The smaller engine is mated to a standard five-speed manual or an optional four-speed OD automatic, while the more powerful 3.8-liter V6 gets a smooth-shifting six-speed manual or an optional five-speed OD automatic. Both automatics have Mitsubishi's Sportronic auto/manual shifting. Better than rear wheel drive for traction on slick surfaces, the front-wheel-drive setup does have it's drawbacks in performance and that is the dreaded 'torque-steer' that you will experience during hard launch as the steering wheel turns by itself due the front heavy weight distribution. This factor shows with the relatively slow 0-60 mph time of 7 seconds. Perhaps a limited-slip differential should be an option to take care of this problem.

Giving you fun and excitement behind the wheel is the Eclipse's fully independent suspension that keeps all four-tires in contact with the road at all times. Up front is a proven MacPherson strut-type suspension, featuring large-diameter coil springs, gas-charged damper inserts, and large urethane bump stops to absorb road imperfections and preventing the car from bottoming out. The front coil spring rates are optimized to strike an ideal balance between ride compliance and responsive, sporty handling. Each assembly attaches to large, reinforced steel lower control arms. These strong control arms are supported by a rigid crossmember that spans the control arm mounting points. A 22 mm front stabilizer bar helps keep body lean to a minimum. The rear features a low-mount, multi-link setup with large, gas-charged shocks, rear trailing arms, coil springs and a 21mm stabilizer bar. The hydraulic rack and pinion power steering system provides direct, responsive steering feel and control that you would expect from a sporty car. The power steering box is attached to the crossmember using rubber bushings engineered with multi-directional hardness that offers support in front-to-rear movement and increased compliance for lateral movement. The Eclipse GT is equipped with a vacuum-assisted four-wheel disc braking system. The vented front discs are 11.6 inches.and clamped with dual-piston calipers while the rear 11.2-inch vented rotors are clamped with single-piston calipers. The standard ABS brakes are augmented with electronic brake force distribution (EBD) for better balance of front and rear braking forces. The GT model rides on 18X8 cast aluminum wheels wrapped with 235/45R18 high-performance tires.

This exceptional combination of suspension geometry, brakes and rubber give the Eclipse GT a very exciting and action-packed ride. At speed on the straight-aways the ride is rock solid, and when driving through twisting roads you remain in control of your direction. The GT comes with standard traction control to help inhibit unwanted wheelspin. Unfortunately, as a result of the weight distribution being heavy up-front, the suspension suffers from both oversteer and understeer when taking the car to its edge of adhesion during spirited driving on curving roads. You have to ease off the throttle going into a curve at high speed, then kick it hard when exiting so you don't' loose control. Only rear-wheel-drive coupes can handle twisting curving roads at very high speeds because of the better front-to-rear balance. The Eclipse GT - with its very good power - would be better off giving consumers a choice of front-wheel-drive or an optional all-wheel-drive. A system like the Mitsubishi Lancer EVO VIII uses shouldn't be too difficult to engineer for this car. Consumers looking for a great looking sporty coupe could go with the standard front-wheel-drive setup while enthusiasts who want the great looks of the Eclipse GT plus the total performance of AWD could option for it. The interior is very modern, comfortable, ergonomic and safe for all four passengers. The 'wave-form' padded dashboard has easy to reach and use dials and buttons. The motorcycle-inspired gauge cluster features a 160 mph speedometer and 8,000 rpm tachometer. The race-inspired sport bucket seats are comfortable and very supportive. The sporty, four-spoke leather wrapped and tilting steering wheel feels perfect in your hands and has buttons in back to operate the audio system. The stick shifter is well placed and easy to operate.

The new power-top is made of cloth and its multi-layer construction includes a thick headliner and rear glass with defroster. Just push on two hinges on each side of the front, then push a button on the lower center stack and the top is down or up in just 20 seconds. The fit is snug and very quiet. Standard equipment on the convertible include 17X8 wheels/tires, foglamps, air-conditioning, front/side airbags, three-point safety belts for four seats, energy-absorbing steering column, cruise control, ABS/EBD, embroidered floor mats, remote keyless entry, power windows/locks/side mirrors, and powerful Rockford Fosgate audio system with nine-speakers, 650-watt AM-FM-CD-MP3 radio and an 8in. subwoofer placed between the rear seatback. The GT gets traction control, and outside temperature/compass direction readouts from the centered dashboard shelf display. The Premium Sport Package includes leather front seating, heated front seats, heated mirrors, power driver-side seat, aluminum pedals, and lipless 18-inch alloy wheels. The base price of the GT is just $28,269.00, plus $1,730.00 for the Premium Sport Package and $179.00 for the aluminum fuel filler door. The all-new 2007 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT convertible is pure fun and excitement in the sun just in time for spring and summer thrills. Even Miss Muffet will be attracted to Mitsubishi's new 2007 Eclipse GT Spyder. © All photos and text supra by Harvey Schwartz

SIDEBAR COMMENT Mitsubishi has enjoyed a bit of success with its high-styling new Eclipse. It looks like Mitsubishi has another winner on its hands with the new Spyder GT. The Spyder not only retains the great lines of the coupe, it also seats four people - a rarity in this class. Moreover, the sophistication of it's convertible top operation would have been unheard of in this price bracket not too long ago. - Roy Nakano SUMMARY JUDGMENT Loads of style and great execution for the money. The Spyder GT can deliver the power, but easy does it when taking the front-wheel-drive system to the limit. For more information on Suzuki products, go to www.mitsubishicars.com. More photos from Harvey Schwartz can be found at www.autofotos.com.

SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2007 Mitsubishi Eclipse V6 GT Spyder Price: $28,269.00 base; $30,278.00 as tested Horsepower: 260 hp at 5,750 rpm Torque: 258 lb.ft. at 4,500 rpm Drive configuration: Front engine/front-wheel-drive Transmission type: 6-speed manual transmission or optional 5-speed automatic with semi-manual shifting Front suspension: Independent MacPherson strut with offset coil springs, stabilizer bar Rear suspension: Low mount multi-link with coil springs, gas-charged shocks, stabilizer bar Wheels and tires: 17X8 5-spoke lipless alloy wheels, and 225/50R17 all-season radial tires Brakes: Front-11.8-in. vented rotors/dual-piston calipers Rear- 11.2-in. vented rotor/single-piston calipers Standard ABS and Electronic Brake Force Distribution Overall length: 179.7 inches Overall width: 72.2 inches Overall height: 54.4 inches Curb weight: 3,671 pounds EPA mileage: 19mpg/city, 28mpg/highway 0-60 mph: 7 seconds

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