That was then, of course. Today, we know what an eclipse is, and while it may have been a while since we wanted to drive one, Mitsubishi hopes that this recent rendition foretells a change in the number people walking into its dealerships and driving off in its cars.
We'll see. If not, if the 2006 Mitsubishi Eclipse does not turn heads and get on short lists, this Eclipse may well indeed cast a dark, dark shadow over Mitsubishi Motors of North America. As it is, however, this new and aggressive car that goes back to the past for its styling is a solid maybe: maybe more people will like it enough to pay for it.
It's about feeling sporty – and the Eclipse will likely give drivers a sporty feel with a short-throw shifter and an interior designed for edgy hipsterism. But it’s a big car, and that may well take away some of its sporty feel. There is a four-spoke steering wheel, a soft touch feel to surfaces, and motorcycle-like gauges with blue backlighting. The cabin can be decked out with one of three different color schemes: Techno sports (a charcoal arrangement), Hi-Q (a medium gray set up), or Avant Garde, for the latte-swillers who think they know more than real designers.
You can buy a 2006 Mitsubishi Eclipse now, despite a nasty little braking problem that cropped up in the initial cars. Prices, which do not include the $595 destination charge, range from $19,399 for the base GS with a 2.4-liter engine, to a top trim price of $24,599. That’s for the GT model with a 3.8-liter engine. Fully equip that GT with leather, sunroof, heated seats, premium sound, and other extras such as better paint and wheels, and prepare to look at a sticker price nearing $30,000. There is also a great 100,000-mile powertrain warranty that comes with all Eclipse models. Packages include a Sun and Sound Package that features a power sunroof; a 650-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system with nine speakers, a ten-inch subwoofer, a six-disc in-dash CD changer, digital signal processing, and steering wheel audio controls; and a center display with outside temperature and compass.. In addition to the Sun and Sound Package, the GT Premium Sport Package adds leather front seats, 18-inch wheels, automatic air conditioning, a six-way power driver's seat, alloy pedals, heated front seats, and heated door mirrors. There is also an Accessory Package available that includes an alloy fuel door, wheel locks, a cargo net, a cargo floor mat, and sport floor mats.
A front-drive car, the Eclipse features a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine in the GS model that creates 162 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and twists up torque at 162 lb.-ft. at 4,000 rpm. GT models feature a 3.8-liter V6 that pushes out 262 horses (5,750 rpm) and 260 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,500 rpm. Transmissions are manual for both models; the GS gets a five-speed, the GT moves one up to six speeds. There is a Sportronic automatic transmission available for geeks, girls and weak-footed fellas. Fuel economy is estimated to be 18 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway; with the five-speed tranny you can get an EPA-estimated 19/28 mpg. Every model features ventilated brake discs up front and ABS on all four wheels. Rear brakes do vary – the GS offers solid discs, and the GT provides discs that are larger and ventilated. Mitsubishi engineers have tried to improve the sportiness of this car by applying some performance tuning to a suspension that has MacPherson struts up front with a stabilizer bar, and a multi-link setup in back.
The 2006 Mitsubishi Eclipse is a big car for a coupe. The way the overhang at the rear of the car wraps around the wheels looks odd or unique – take your pick. The hood is flat without much contour while the rest of the car is all sexy swoops and subtle curves, and offered in bright hues of blue, pearl, and more. Clearly, though, the new Eclipse is much improved over the old 2005 version. Fact is, the design is more reminiscent of the previous-gen Eclipse – the one that became a Fast and Furious movie star. Still, though, at certain angles it does seem a bit too large and ordinary.
It’s been getting dark in Mitsubishi Land of late, dark and cold and lonely, with scattered buyers and rusting models. Up to now, the earth doesn’t seem in too much of a hurry to move and splash a little sun on the fortunes of Mitsubishi. Perhaps this aggressive new 2006 Eclipse will put things in motion – and then we’ll see if, truly, there is a reason to shine a little light on both the car company and the car.
Photos courtesy of Mitsubishi