New Car/Review

1998 MITSUBISHI ECLIPSE GS-T

by Matt/Bob Hagin

mitsubishi

SEE ALSO: Mitsubushi Buyer's Guide


SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 21,960
Price As Tested                                    $ 24,762
Engine Type         TURBO DOHC 16-valve 2.0 Liter I4 w/SFI*
Engine Size                                 122 cid/1997 cc
Horsepower                                   210 @ 6000 RPM
Torque (lb-ft)                               214 @ 3000 RPM
Wheelbase/Width/Length                   98.8"/68.7"/172.4"
Transmission                              Five-speed manual
Curb Weight                                     3079 pounds
Fuel Capacity                                  15.9 gallons
Tires  (F/R)                                      205/55R16
Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
Drive Train                  Front-engine/front-wheel-drive
Vehicle Type                      Four-passenger/three-door
Domestic Content                                 72 percent
Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                              0.33

PERFORMANCE

EPA Economy, miles per gallon
   city/highway/average                            23/31/26
0-60 MPH                                          7 seconds
1/4 Mile (E.T.)                       16 seconds @ 92.5 mph
Top speed                                           125 mph
     * Sequential fuel injection

( Mitsubishi is one of the few, if not the only, company that has stayed with its credo of producing a sports car for every budget, says Matt Hagin. His dad Bob says that while sports cars aren't for everyone, they're lots more practical than they were 50 years ago.)

BOB - The American market for sports cars has been dwindling for several years now, Matt, but Mitsubishi has stuck by its guns and continues making 2+2 sports rockets for a broad range of buyers. When we checked out this car a couple of years ago, I thought we'd seen the last of the Eclipse coupes, but here they are back again and as much fun to drive as ever.

MATT - The GS-T version we had is one hot ride, Dad, whether the trip is a commute to work or a weekend jaunt through the backroads. It's a snug but "sporting" fit for two adults and the back seat it better left to luggage and non-bulky cargo. It's just one of four Eclipse coupes, but it's not quite the top-line. There are two base models, the RS and the GS, and they use four cylinder, two-liter, 16-valve, twin-cam engines that put out 140 horsepower. It would be a misnomer to call the RS a "stripper" but it's the least expensive of the bunch. The GS is really just a fancier version of the same car but the next two, the GSX and the GS-T, are more sophisticated and lots faster. They carry an entirely different four-cylinder engine from the basic versions and they're turbocharged to put out 210 horsepower.

MATT - But there's more to the GS-T than just the upscale engine, Dad. Its chassis has been upgraded with sway bars front and rear, as well as disc brakes in back for extra stopping power. The only Eclipse that's hotter is the GSX, and that one adds full-time all-wheel-drive. This would be the Eclipse of choice if all-out performance is a major factor. The all-wheel-drive system on the GSX adds bigger, more efficient rear brakes to the package with an increase of almost an inch to the diameter of the brake rotors. An anti-skid brake system is offered as an option on all of them except the RS, and I'm glad that our test car had ABS, despite the extra price of more than $700. Back in '95 Mitsubishi did away with the car's MacPherson strut front suspension and beam axle in favor of a new, more sophisticated suspension system. It now has short upper control arms and a couple of long transverse links on the bottom, both front and rear. The car understeers somewhat, but I think that in a car that is this fast, it's safer for us average drivers.

BOB - The last time we tried the Eclipse GS-T it came with an automatic transmission and it made driving the car very easy in stop-and-go traffic and over our urban hills of San Francisco. This time we got the crisp Mitsubishi five-speed transmission and it made the car lots more sporting. But I would have preferred to have the fabric seat coverings, since I'm not a firm advocate of leather upholstery, especially when it costs an additional $500. But I did like most of the items in the "goodies" kit that came on our car. The fog lamps, cruise control, power side mirrors and windows, audio system and the rest made life on the road a bit easier.

MATT - The gauges are laid out pretty well, and it's interesting to see that Mitsubishi includes a turbocharger boost pressure gauge along with the conventional oil pressure and coolant temperature gauges. The shifter was stiff, but I guess that loosens with use.

BOB - In spite of the fact that this Eclipse is a true sports car, it's a practical means of transportation as long as it doesn't have to carry much besides the driver, passenger and a couple of overnight bags in the trunk. The swing-up hatchback makes getting into the trunk fairly easy, but the lift-over height is a very high.

MATT - Modern sports cars have come a long way in that area, too, Dad. Looking over photos of those old British sports cars you started with in the '50s, it looks like the driver and passenger had to strap big luggage items onto racks lashed up against an outside spare tire.

DAD - That wasn't luggage, Matt, that was my tool kit.

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