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Mitsubishi Sends Off The Eclipse

Posted in Car Buying, Import Rides, Mitsubishi by Kurt Ernst | April 26th, 2011 | 6 Responses |

Image: Mitsubishi

In the end, Mitsubishi’s storied Eclipse is being removed from life-support and sent into that good night not with a performance and handling package worthy of the name, but with a trim and content package designed to maximize value. The car that began its life racking up road racing trophies across the world is being retired with some paint, stitching and vinyl decals that make up the SE (“Special Edition”) package. Perhaps the ultimate in irony is that SE cars will only be offered with a four-speed automatic transmission, so don’t expect the cars to return either world class performance or even reasonable fuel economy.

The Eclipse began life as a 1990 model, and was offered in trims from mild to wild. On the entry-level side, buyers got a reasonably well equipped, 92 horsepower, front-wheel-drive sports coupe. On the wild side, there was the 195 horsepower, turbocharged Eclipse GSX, which offered the benefit of AWD for all-weather traction. The Eclipse GSX was a superb car, and began racking up race wins as soon as it took to the track. A front wheel drive only version, the Eclipse GS Turbo, also made 195 horsepower and was slightly quicker in a straight line, thanks to lower weight.

The obsession with performance continued through second generation Eclipse models, built from 1985 through 1999. All wheel drive models remained available, and stock output on GS-T and GSX models was bumped to 210 horsepower. When the third generation was launched in 2000, Mitsubishi took the car in a “personal luxury” direction. Gone was the high-performance GSX, and gone was the easily tuned, turbocharged four cylinder engine. Instead, Mitsubishi stuffed in a heavier and more sedate V6, good for 205 horsepower. By the time the fourth generation was debuted in 2006, the Eclipse was more about style than substance, and sales continued to decline.

I’ll miss the Mitsubishi Eclipse, but more for what it was in the early days than for what it evolved into. Like the Twinkie-and-bon-bon addicted actress long past her prime, the Eclipse is best remembered for its early roles, and not for the sad parodies it delivered in its later years.

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6 Responses

  1. Anthony says:

    They should of turned the eclipse into a real high performance car for 35k. Change the plastic grill and maybe even given it a more ralliart front.

  2. PFULMTL says:

    It should have kept the AWD platform. It eventually became the “chicks car” and thats never a good thing.

  3. O'conner says:

    When did the eclipse have “world class performance” ROFL

    • Ty says:

      @O’Connor,

      sorry kid, but during the 90’s the Eclipse was well known to be a performance bargain with lots of accessories and things for enthusiasts to mess around with. People really liked this car, in particular the second generation.

      Not a fanboy, never owned one, just putting it out.

  4. J D Stadler says:

    Awww the Eclipse is Kirstie Alley…

  5. crispy says:

    First car I ever bought new was a 1990 Eclipse GS-T, right after graduation from college and on my way into the Air Force. Awesome car – yes, it understeered if driven poorly, but I won every autocross I entered in it (maybe a dozen or so) and it was plenty quick; and comfortable on long journeys.

    I agree with the others – it got heavy, slow and dumb in the later years, but that first couple of versions was a great car for folks on a budget.