Mitsubishi Sports Cars from the Past – The Mitsubishi Eclipse
When Mitsubishi brought the Eclipse sports car back as the Eclipse Cross, there was a lot of mixed feelings. We’re still waiting for the return of the automaker’s rally car days, like the Lancer Evolution of Mitsubishi Starion 4WD. Still going in strong in 2022, the 2023 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross was revealed with the new generation of the lineup, and an Eclipse Cross PHEV is coming soon. Still, we can understand why the fans are a little grouchy about the loss of the Eclipse sports car. Having a solid run from 1990 – 2012, the Mitsubishi Eclipse changed the way Mitsubishi Motors built performance cars.
The original first generation of the Mitsubishi Eclipse started out with a bang. Although there were only four trims, two of them were true sports car variants. Making up the lineup was the Eclipse, Eclipse GS, Eclipse GS-T (Turbo) and Eclipse GSX. The standard drivetrain was front-wheel drive (FWD), but that changed with the GSX, equipped with all-wheel drive (AWD). We’re surprised the turbocharged GS-T trim didn’t also come with AWD, but both trims were powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4G63 engine that could generate up to 195 horsepower. With its fast acceleration (0-60 in less than seven seconds) and precise handling, this was a true sports car.
Getting its name after an 18th century English racehorse with a record number of wins, the Mitsubishi Eclipse only got better in its second generation in 1996. Introducing a new look, the Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder was a soft-top convertible Eclipse that came in two trim levels: the base GS with a standard 4G64 aspirated engine, and the GS-T, featuring the 4G63 turbocharged engine. The sports car only continued to advance over the years.
Sometimes, it is possible to make something that seems perfect even better. Form, function, beauty, and technology, the Mitsubishi Eclipse had it all, but it got even better when the GSX got improved AWD technology that eventually spawned the new version of Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC) from Mitsubishi Motors, found in the Eclipse Cross. Driver-centric, the cabin was ergonomically designed to provide comfort while handling the improved performance. In 2003, Mitsubishi equipped the Eclipse GTS trim with the powerful 3.0-liter V6 engine, able to generate up to 200 horsepower for the third-generation model.
Keeping up the style with the performance, new changes came to the appearance of the Eclipse. With sharp athletic lines that kept the look of a sports car at the forefront of everyone’s minds, the coupe also had a soft appearance that was a strong contrast in a market with boxy automobiles making up the majority of fashion trends. In spite of the difference, the fourth generation Eclipse won the 2005 Gold Industrial Design Excellence Award (IDEA).
Ending in 2011, the last Mitsubishi Eclipse rolled off the assembly line with a final special edition. Created for the sport coupe and the Eclipse Spyder model, the 2012 Mitsubishi Eclipse Special Edition (SE) came with distinctive badging, leather upholstery with contrasting stitching, and a choice of two engines – a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine able to generate 162 horsepower or the 3.8-liter V6 able to generate up to 265 horsepower. For those that preferred the coupe but liked the open air of the Spyder, the coupe version got the option of a sunroof. The Eclipse Special Edition came in Kalapana Black, and the last Eclipse SE was auctioned off, with the proceeds going to the Japanese Red Cross to help support victims of the 2011 Töhoku earthquake and tsunami.
We wonder what Mitsubishi Motors will launch next. Electric vehicles may be the new game, but performance is still the target goal for a lot of automakers. Follow along with us when you follow us on University Mitsubishi social media.