The first two generations of Mitsubishi’s Eclipse were real rough and ready pocket rockets. The third generation brought a car that was refined, more street cruiser than street racer. Now this fourth generation Eclipse is trying to relearn some of those bare knuckle basics while retaining its sleek style and urbanized manners. Let’s just hope it can reel in more sales for Mitsubishi, and quick!

The all-new, 4th generation 2006 Mitsubishi Eclipse sport coupe has a tough job on its hands as it tries to capture a relevant portion of the shrinking sport coupe segment. To do that, designers abandoned the previous car’s more mature look for a style closer to the widely popular 1st and 2nd generation designs, but with a twist. Because while the new Eclipse may look smaller, it’s actually larger in every direction.

Styling departs from the expected smooth bubble coupe look; the profile being a 3-dimensional fast back wedge that dips sharply to the hood, while pumped up wheel blisters and rocker panels anchor it to the ground.

The nose is more far aggressive, with multi-lens headlights, yet retains the familiar Mitsubishi twin port grille. At the tail are the smooth, rounded lines so popular with young import tuners fans. And we like the mirror finish on the rear spoiler, a departure from boring monochrome. The standard 17-inch and optional 18-inch alloy wheels are very much what younger buyers expect.

Inside, our V6 GT’s much wider but still intimate cockpit is all curves. But designers offset the Premium Package’s busy multi-tone look with a very rational control layout. A more subdued color scheme is standard in the GS. The wrap-around leather sport seats offer proper support for enthusiastic driving. Both long arms and legs are accommodated.

But the gauge cluster is still a little sparse for a serious sport machine. The Premium Package includes a 650-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system, with their PUNCH subwoofer system. Plus automatic climate controls with a simple 3-dial layout. The split folding rear seats are still suitable for small children or luggage only.

And speaking of cargo.  The trunk shrunk slightly and the large subwoofer and uneven floor hurt flexibility. Still, 15.7 cubic-feet is big for a small car.

Of course, most Eclipse buyers are more interested in go than cargo. Giving them just that is our GT’s bored and stroked 3.8-liter single-cam V6. Now with variable valve timing and lift control, output is 263 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. A 162-horsepower 4-cylinder is fitted in the GS.

Transmission choices for the GT are a 5-speed automatic with manual shift capability, or our car’s sweet 6-speed manual. But, while the engine spins up quickly, the clutch engagement is soft, making clean launches difficult. Still, our GT clawed its way to a 0 to 60 run of 6.7 seconds. That’s almost a second-and-a-half better than our last V6 Eclipse. The 1/4 mile runs out in 15 seconds flat at 97 miles-per-hour.

The Eclipse suspension retains a front MacPherson strut, rear multi-link design, but for 2006 it’s been beefed up and completely retuned. The result is much quicker reactions to input, and despite 60% of the weight over the front wheels, only moderate levels of front driver push. Body roll is also better controlled, and the rear end stays firmly planted.

Braking is by standard ABS-equipped discs all around. They brought our test car down from 60 in a good average of 126 feet. The pedal felt soft with little feel, but chassis stability was extremely high.

The price for this modern performance starts at a very reasonable $19,994 for the base GS Coupe; that a $1,300 reduction from 2005. Our V6 GT starts at $24,294; a $550 increase. A drop-top Eclipse Spyder arrives early next year with a target price of under $28,000.

The 2006 Eclipse sport coupe is just the kind of stimulus needed to perk up Mitsubishi’s sagging sales. It’s quicker, slicker, and still affordable. And we think it will do very well.



  • Engine: 3.8-Liter Single-cam V6
  • Horsepower: 263
  • Torque: 260 Lb Feet
  • 0-60 MPH: 6.7 Seconds
  • 1/4 Mile: 15.0 Seconds @ 97 MPH
  • 60-0 MPH: 126 Feet