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2007 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder

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San Francisco: What does sporty mean to you? One defining trait could be low to the ground. How about two-plus-two seating (room in the back for grocery bags, pets, and infants only)? And with plenty of power too!  For me, a manual transmission is almost a given. Oh, how about racy looks? And, to top it off, take the top off! The Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder would seem to fit the entire bill.

Mitsubishi has offered an Eclipse since the 1990 model year, when it debuted as a joint venture with the Chrysler Corporation (before the Daimler-Benz takeover). Built in Normal, Illinois, these diamond-star cars were instant three point hits, compact, nice looking and modestly priced. The Eclipse is the only surviving vehicle today, with the Plymouth Laser and the Eagle Talon pushing up daisies long ago.

This fourth-generation Eclipse may be the best yet. With voluptuous, swooping lines, it sparkles at each end with oversized lights with plenty of chromey bling. Along the rear of my Sunset Pearlescent tester, a plastic & chrome trunk-mounted spoiler connected the taillights. The look is puffed out and rounded in an aggressive but friendly way.

With the top up, itís a bit claustrophobic inside, and backup and parking must be done with great care. Pop the top, though, and the car looks cleaner and more dramatic, and you get an invigorating blast of the great outdoors that brings a smile to your face.

Enjoying a mostly dry week in mid November, I stowed the top as often as I could. After flipping open two delicate latches on the windshield header, you simply push a button and a panel behind the seats yawns and accepts the folded top and neatly drops back down in less than 20 seconds. The old-fashioned cloth top takes up little space in back than those new hardtops, so the trunk actually will hold some groceries or luggage, but it wouldnít serve a family of five as a weekly shopping shuttle.

Inside the Eclipse itís as softly curved and dramatic as the outside. A red pad spreads across the dash like a great dollop of peanut butter on a slice of bread. The instruments are tucked neatly into a motorcycle-style binnacle in front of the driver and they tell you all you really need to know. At night, ice blue LED light floods the gauges and bits of the interior for the drama normally afforded hotel landscaping.

My testerís insides were covered in nice, if not exactly luxurious, sections of red, black, silver, gray, and black (remember that word, sporty?). A chunky & grippy four-spoke wheel feels satisfying to hold and to turn. The shift knob is a tiny stitched leather baseball.

There are two flavors of Eclipse Spyder, GS and GT. The GS employs Mitsubishiís worthy 162-horsepower 2.4-liter four, which delivers commendable mileage of 22 City, 29 Highway. My GT tester, however, stuffed a 3.8-liter V6 under the hood with 260 horses and 258 lb.-ft of torque, which in this nearly 3,700-pound car still delivers tire screeching acceleration in first gear. I discovered this accidentally when I initially got behind the wheel. I later learned to control myself (and the car). This engine posts mileage numbers of 17 City and 26 Highway, which are probably optimistic, as these numbers tend to be.

The V6 puts out a satisfying burble as it rolls along, and a little bit of a growl when you put your foot in it. It almost feels like a small V8 in day-to-day life.

Another pleasing sound is the one emanating from the standard Rockford-Fosgate premium audio system. Specifically designed to work in this vehicle, it pumps out an astounding 650 watts of power through nine strategically placed speakers, including an 8-inch subwoofer in the rear seat area. I found myself sitting in the car after I parked it just to enjoy another song (or two).

Other standard features on the GS and GT include 17-inch alloys; power windows, locks, and mirrors; air conditioning; cruise control; antilock brakes; and fog lamps. You can add a leather package to the GS, while the GT offers the Premium Sport package at $1,730, which upgrades the rims to 18-inchers among other things.

Prices start at $26,014 for a GS with manual transmission. The GT model base price is $28,894. You can add a five-speed automatic with Sportronic manual shifting to either car for an additional $900. My GT tester came to $30,933, including a $130 premium paint charge and the $179 Accessory Package, which added a sporty alloy fuel door. A base GS couple starts at a mere $20,624.

This car can change your mood and fire you up for your busy day. I hated to return it and I could find nothing to complain about it. And itís still assembled in Normal, but thereís nothing really normal about it.  By Steve Schaefer © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco

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Byline:  Syndicated content provided by Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
Column Name:  This car can change your mood and fire you up
Topic: The 2007 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder
Word Count:  886
Photo Caption:  The 2007 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder
Photo Credits:  Mitsubishi Eclipse Internet Media
Series #:  2007 - 10

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