New Car/Review

Mitsubishi Eclipse GS-T

by Aaron Cooper

Mitsubishi

SEE ALSO: Mitsubushi Buyer's Guide

The world is filled with different people who all have different priorities. If you're like Mrs. Smith down the street, your priority may be to impress the neighbors. If you're like me however, your priority is have fun. If you had twenty-three thousand dollars burning a hole in your pocket you may be perfectly content to buying a large diamond ring and aiming the sun's reflection of off it and into your neighbors eyes. If I had twenty-three grand it would be used to buy what is possibly the hottest sports car on the road today: the Mitsubishi Eclipse GS-T. And the only diamond I'm interested in is the diamond insignia on the front of this beautiful piece of Japanese engineering.

It was the Mitsubishi Eclipse that happened to light up a smile on my face one sunny California afternoon. Simply walking up to the Eclipse's bulging rear bumper and oversized rear spoiler brings up incarnations of burning tires and Indy races. Even the interior, with its comfortable front seats, ideal driving position, and unusable rear seat is exciting. One notable exception is multi-colored stripes on the cloth upholstery. Perhaps Mitsubishi developed this tacky design by giving a classroom of first-graders access to a computer paint program.

One turn on the key and any problems you have with the upholstery are quickly forgotten. The 210-horsepower turbo-charged four comes alive instantly with a sporty buzz emanating from in front of the firewall. At normal speeds it's easy to forget you're driving a sports car. This car is equally smooth as most family sedans in the sub-twenty thousand dollar price range. The acceleration of this car is explosive. In the short time it takes for the turbo to kick in you've already outrun most of the cars on the road. It's when the turbo makes itself known that this car get really exciting. The Eclipse screams forward without an apology.

At this point the driver has to pay attention. Our test car exhibited considerable torque steer as it tended to lurch to the left and right under hard acceleration. Once the Eclipse GS-T reaches speed it tracks on par with other sports cars in this class. One notable performance disappointment is the five-speed manual transmission. Although the clutch motion is world class, the shifter is notchy and reluctant to be shifted quickly. If you prefer a smooth ride to razor-like cornering, the Eclipse GS-T is right up your ally.

A driver has to sacrifice a lot for the performance of sports cars like the Eclipse. The lack of interior room (especially rear legroom) makes long trips fatiguing. You can also expect this turbo-charged version of the Eclipse to demand very high insurance rates. Combine this with the inevitable plethora of speeding tickets and you end up with a car that could cost you more than you expected to pay. Nevertheless, if your priority is personal luxury combined with very good performance all at a competitive price, the Mitsubishi Eclipse GS-T is worth a test drive.

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