What it Is
2009 Mitsubishi Eclipse Preview – 2008 Chicago Auto Show: Mitsubishi took the wraps off its 2009 Eclipse at Chicago, with an Evo-inspired grille, diffuser-style rear end on GT models, new wheels, a larger rear wing and a whopping two horsepower increase in V-6 models thanks to a new dual exhaust system. The styling changes bring the Eclipse more in line with the Lancer Evolution, and since it ditches the previous Eclipse’s peculiar triangular grille insert, we consider it a welcome change.Why It Matters
The Eclipse is in its fourth generation, having evolved from a lightweight, trim turbocharged sport coupe into a much larger and heavier V-6 powered GT. Still, the car has a lot to offer, and the styling changes bring it well within the new design language of Mitsubishi’s sportiest cars, the Lancer Evolution and Ralliart.
What’s Under the Hood
Little has changed under the hoods of the Eclipse and Eclipse Spyder. The four cylinder is the same 2.4-liter 162-horsepower unit from previous years, and is available with either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic routing power to the front wheels. Eclipse GTs with the V-6 get a two-horsepower bump thanks to a new dual exhaust system, for a total of 265 hp whether connected to the six-speed manual or five-speed automatic.
What it Looks Like
The fourth-generation Eclipse was already a good looking car, and arguably the only one that carried off the company’s triangular grille insert motif at all. Still, the new blackout grille treatment on GT models is sharp, and we like the diffuser look given to the GT’s rear bumper cover as well. Aside from the GT’s new 18-inch wheels, little else is changed visually, and in all honest, little needed to.
The Eclipse’s interior carries over, complete with the motorcycle-like instrument binnacle. Overall it’s a cleanly executed interior space, but like many Mitsubishi products, we’re left wishing that the company would spend a little more on interior materials, switches and the like. Still available is the incredibly powerful and loud Rockford Fosgate audio system, which with 650 watts is guaranteed to overcome even the deafness caused by iPod earbuds.
What Mitsubishi Says
According to the company’s press info, “Newly styled single-color front and rear bumper fascias lend a more defined appearance to the Eclipse GS, while the new two-tone bumper fascias for the GT model further emphasizes its road-hungry stance. The ‘attainable exotic’ design of the fourth-generation Eclipse is further underscored for 2009 by the availability of three new colors, Maizen Blue pearl, Quick Silver metallic and Solar, a vibrant new yellow. Models with the standard cloth interior feature upgraded fabrics.”
What We Think
The Eclipse is a decent sporty coupe, and the styling changes are worthwhile. However, with no interior changes, no all-wheel drive and no rip-snortin’ turbo engine, the Eclipse remains overshadowed by the Lancer Evolution and Ralliart.Here's hoping that the Concept-RA that debuted in Detroit -- and was shown alongside the new cars in Chicago -- fortells what the next Eclipse generation will bring.
By Keith Buglewicz
Photo credit: Mitsubishi