New Car Review

1998 MITSUBISHI ECLIPSE SPYDER: FUN, BUT MAINLY TOPDOWN

by Bill Maloney

mitsubishi

SEE ALSO: Mitsubushi Buyer's Guide

The Mitsubishi Eclipse rag top made its debut in 1996 and has gone through a few face lifts since then...and keeps getting better. This sports car which falls in the price/model range of the Chevy Z28 Camaro, Toyota Celica Supra, Ford Mustang and VWGTi has done, marketing-wise just what its planners intended. It gives the Mitsu line a performance image..youthful prospects will be attracted to showrooms.

If "sporty" is your dish don't think of any Eclipse other than the Spyder two-liter turbo which puts out 210 HP while not an astounding figure it's not bad for a fairly compact 2+2 automobile. The back seat is great for kids and packages. It's a front driver and when the turbo cuts in you might expect an abundance of torque steer but somehow Mitsu solved this problem and the steering is smooth...though there is some chassis flex. This is a high profile car that makes a statement and you will be noticed.

As tested the Spyder had a sticker of $27,432 with an EPA of 23 city and 31 highway which is not too shabby for a car that will get a lot of wringing out by sporty owners. The main drawback for which we do not have the answer is rear visibility. There ain't none with the top in place. Scary. You have to get used to this and learn how to count on your side view mirrors. Styling-wise the factory uses the term "athletic good looks" and for once we agree with the copy writers. The car with its snub nose has an aggressive countenance yet have a drag coefficient of only 0.30. The five-speed works just fine but only when you learn how to twist in the R-slot.

The Spyder unlike some other convertible imports is a ground up production convertible and does not start life on its Normal, Il assembly line as a coupe only to have the top hacked off and reinforcements added. Every Eclipse has four-wheel independent multi link suspension, dual air bags and on the GS GSX models four-wheel disc brakes.

Some car publications have reviewed the Eclipse Spyder and have complained about a choppy/bumpy ride however we didn't experience this but driving-wise what we did experience a syndrome that is prevalent in all four bangers with turbos. Under 2000 rpm they are worthless so you really got to boot it as soon as you start up or leave a stoplight.

Dimensions

Wheelbase           98.8
Length              172
Weight Capacities   3053
Fuel                16.9 gal
Cargo               5.1 cu ft
Engine Front        2.0 liter  inline four
Horsepower          210
Torque              215 @ 3000rpm

Safety features

Dual front air bags
Side impact door beams
Front/rear crumple zones
3-point seatbelts

Options

ABS
Floor mats

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