Making the cut
By Lou Ann Hammond, Fri, 23 Jun 2006 08:00:00 PDT
"Oooh, I like this car", said my girlfriend Liz who was up for Memorial day. It's always fun to have a snazzy car when a friend comes up. The Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder convertible was the fun car. A rust/orange exterior called sunset pearlescent with a matching two-tone interior. The car is lovely to look at and more than one car slowed or stopped as they were driving by.
The 2007 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder convertible was first shown at the Detroit auto show. The 2+2 seater has the same styling as the hard top along with similar standard and optional equipment. The fabric top is a power operated tonneau cover that takes only nineteen seconds to put up or down. There are two models; the GS and the GT.
The Eclipse hard top or convertible are offered in two models. The GS trim is a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder MIVEC engine with a choice of five-speed manual or Sportronic automatic transmission that pours out 162 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm and has a torque of 162 lb.-ft @ 4,000 rpm. Inside the 4-cylinder is a 650-watt (max.) Rockford Fosgate audio system with Digital Signal Processing, a 6-CD/MP3-compatible in-dash changer and 9 speakers (including an integrated 8" rear subwoofer), steering wheel-mounted audio controls, 17-inch five-spoke alloy wheels, front strut tower brace, an anti-theft immobilizer, auto-off halogen headlamps, parabolic fog lights, power windows/locks/mirrors, air-conditioning, two 12-volt accessory outlets, anti-lock brakes, an integrated rear spoiler, advanced front air bag safety system, side impact air bags and more.
I drove the GT model that is a 3.8-liter 6-cylinder MIVEC engine with a choice of five-speed manual or Sportronic automatic transmission that pours out 273 horsepower @ 5,750 rpm and has a torque of 260lb.-ft @ 4,500 rpm. The base price of the 5-speed manual Eclipse Spyder I drove was $28,269. Add $130 for the premium paint and $1,730 for the premium package with $179 for accessory package and $625 for destination charge and you have a total of $30,933. The mpg on the 6-cylinder premium fuel is 17 city and 26 highway.
Eye candy is great and will get people looking, but there are so many choices of really great cars out there that you have to really stick it. There were some issues with the Spyder that made me tell Liz that this car wouldn't work for her. First, the leather seats that are in the $1,730 premium sport package were actually suede and would get dirty fast and be difficult to clean. That was minor.
I looked up five cars that I thought were comparable; 2006 Chrysler Sebring Touring Convertible 2.7-liter 6-cylinder, 2006 Ford Mustang Convertible 4-liter 6-cylinder, 2007 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder GT Convertible 3.8L 6-cylinder,2007 Pontiac G6 GT Convertible 3.5-liter 6-cylinder and 2006 Toyota Camry Solara SLE Convertible 3.3-liter 6-cylinder. The horsepower and torque were the best of all five. The weight of the Eclipse Spyder (3671 lbs.) is only lighter than the Pontiac G6 at 3855 lbs.
The turning radius on the Mitsubishi was 40 feet, the highest of all five. The best was the Ford Mustang at 33.4 feet. Big difference. And I felt it driving around, trying to maneuver the Eclipse. It took more room than both sides of the street to turnaround.
So, we have eye candy in this car, just plain fun to look at when the car goes by or when it is sitting still. Roomy enough for four regular sized adults under 5'11" and room in the trunk for two girls to go shopping. The big drawbacks are that it takes premium fuel and the turning radius is bad. And it is a front wheel drive. The only vehicle of the five that is rear-wheel drive is the Ford Mustang. In fact, of the five, the Ford Mustang is known as the sportiest and being a rear-wheel drive would be a major factor for that.
The big question is how is Mitsubishi going to get people to buy this car. It's a very fine car, but the company is in trouble. I don't see any great incentives for this car to get people into the showroom. A study recently said that if people thought a company was going into bankruptcy that 3 out of 4 would not buy a car from them.
In an Automotive News article, dated May 29,2006, written by Kathy Jackson, she quoted Mitsubishi's top product development executive, Shinichi Kurihara as saying, "the stakes for the redesigned Outlander, Lancer and other vehicles are enormous. The vehicles have "to be successful for us to stay in business in the U.S"
Mitsubishi makes decent cars, but with those kinds of statements one has to wonder how long Mitsubishi will be in the United States. There are people that think General Motors might go into bankruptcy, but that doesn't necessarily mean they will go under. There are so many new vehicles on the road today that even the seasoned automotive journalist are having a hard time keeping track and picking just one in each category. Mitsubishi can make all the great cars they want, very competitive cars, but if they aren't making them stand out and advertising them well they won't make the cut.