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2009 Mitsubishi Eclipse
2009 Mitsubishi Eclipse

Mitsubishi Eclipse Coupe

Total Eclipse, total exhilaration Add to ...

Most auto makers can't escape the economic downturn, but Mitsubishi Canada is emerging unscathed.

Its September sales increased 18.5 per cent over last year. Overall year-to-date sales are up 7.1 per cent, thanks in part to top performers like the Outlander and Lancer.

One of the sportiest cars in the Mitsubishi lineup is the Eclipse, which comes in a two-door coupe or convertible dubbed Spyder.

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But you won't find 2010 models. Instead, new-and-improved 2011 models will hit the streets some time next year. In the meantime, a 2009 Eclipse coupe is available in two models - a GS for $25,998 and a GT-P for $34,798. The Spyder costs slightly more. The GS trim is $32,298 and the sportier GT-P is $37,798. And in October during Mitsubishi Motors Breakaway Event you can get 0 per cent purchase financing for 60 months on the 2009 Eclipse Spyder and Coupe.

When it comes to the coupe, the GS base trim is well-equipped with standard features such as 17-inch lipless alloy five-spoke wheels, tilt steering, cruise control, power windows, door locks, ABS, front airbags, side airbags, curtain airbags, heated front seats, and LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) system.

But accessing the two rear seats is tricky; it would be difficult to reach a child in a car seat - it's way too tight. Adults will also find it hard to squeeze into the rear seats.

But once inside, there's good shoulder room. Headroom and legroom, however, is tight even for shorter passengers. Small windows and thick rear pillars block the driver's visibility.

Under the hood is a 2.4-litre, four-cylinder engine with 162 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque, which is more than ample power to get around town. A five-speed manual transmission is standard.

As far as the fuel economy, it is rated at 10.5 L/100 km in the city and 7.3 highway. Plus, it takes regular gas - a factor your wallet will appreciate when filling up.

My tester is the top GT-P coupe. It has a sportier look and feel than the base GS model. Plus, it adds a few extras such as dual exhaust tips, beefier 18-inch seven-spoke wheels, a sunroof, leather seats, traction control, active stability control and an incredible 650-watt Rockford premium audio system with nine speakers including a 10-inch subwoofer.

The front seats are more spacious and comfortable than the back seats. The driver's seat is six-way power-adjustable with height and lumbar support adjustors. The front passenger seat moves four ways manually. High side bolsters also keep you firmly in place when taking corners quickly.

The GT-P gets a power boost, too - it has a 3.8-litre V-6 that delivers 265 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque and is mated to a six-speed manual transmission; a five-speed automatic is optional for $1,200. Unfortunately it's thirstier and requires premium fuel. It averages 13.1L/100 km city/8 on the highway.

But the GT-P's ride and handling is more fun and spirited than the base model. The deep engine tone is also exhilarating, especially when you put the pedal to the metal.

While it's great in a straight line, this front-wheel-drive vehicle doesn't feel as fun and solid around corners as its Japanese competitors like the rear-wheel-drive Hyundai Genesis coupe.

The interior of the Eclipse is well laid out and user-friendly. Large, round HVAC dials are easy to use and find. The black-face meters with ice-blue illumination add a pleasant and youthful feel to the cabin while remaining easy to read even in the dark.

There are ample storage compartments including front-door pockets, a centre console with dual cup holders, dual illuminated vanity mirrors and a rear coat hook.

The tailgate lifts up high and out of head-banging range. There's 445 litres of cargo space. But you can fold down the two rear seats for more room.

The exterior is attractive with long, clean-flowing lines from front to fear. My tester's solar yellow paint is a knockout. A big rear wing adds a sporty, muscular touch to the exterior design, but it's so large it blocks visibility out the rear. An intermittent wiper on the rear window is handy on rainy days.

Mitsubishi has a great warranty, too. It's one of the best in the business - five-year/100,000 kilometres comprehensive, 10-year/160,000-km powertrain and five-year/unlimited-kilometre roadside assistance.

So far, Mitsubishi Canada sales have topped 100,000 since it was established in 2002. And Mitsubishi hopes the remaining 2009 models and the new-and-improved 2011 Eclipses will dramatically boost those numbers.

pgentile@globeandmail.com

2009 MITSUBISHI ECLIPSE GT-P

Type: Two-door, four-passenger coupe

Base Price: $34,798; as tested, $36,518

Engine: 3.8-litre, SOHC, V-6

Horsepower/Torque: 265 hp/262 lb-ft

Transmission: Six-speed manual

Drive: Front-wheel-drive

Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 13.1 city/8.0 highway; premium

Alternatives: Hyundai Genesis coupe, Honda Accord coupe, Pontiac G6 coupe, Nissan Altima coupe, Ford Mustang

Like

  • Great warranty
  • Sporty exterior design

Don't like

  • Tight rear seats
  • GT-P price
  • Poor rear visibility

Follow on Twitter: @PetrinaGentile

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