With a new and radically different Eclipse arriving for 2006, changes to the Eclipse Spyder convertible are minimal, with two new exterior colours (Liquid Silver and UV Blue). The big news is a warranty change: 2004’s basic 3-years/60,000 km is now 5-years/100,000, while powertrain coverage increases from 5-years/100,000 to 10-years/160,000 km.

The 2005 Eclipse coupe doesn’t really exist; because of the upcoming, early-release 2006 model, production of the old style was discontinued. The vehicles on dealer lots are 2004 sell-offs, with no change in price. There’s a new Remix edition that was not offered in earlier 2004 models. The new longer warranty was applied to all Eclipse coupes in October of 2004.

Both coupe and convertible come with a choice of engines: a 2.4-litre four-cylinder that makes 147 hp with a five-speed manual, or 142 hp with a five-speed automatic; and a 3.0-litre V6.

The Eclipse coupe comes in four trim lines, starting with the base RS, which includes air conditioning, 15-inch alloy wheels, variable intermittent wipers, power mirrors, windows and locks, and CD player with six speakers.

The GS Remix adds a 210-watt six-CD system with seven speakers and wheel-mounted controls, exclusive “Platinum” paint, fog lamps, 16-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, leather-wrapped wheel, power sunroof and leather seats.

The GT adds 17-inch alloy wheels, four-wheel disc brakes and premium fabric seats, while the GT Premium adds rear washer/wiper, 17-inch polished aluminum multi-spoke wheels, compass and outside temperature display, six-way power driver’s seat, side air bags, traction control and ABS.

The Eclipse Spyder comes in two well-equipped lines; the GS includes air conditioning, power top with glass rear window, variable intermittent wipers, power mirrors, 16-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, power windows, power locks with keyless entry, and leather-wrapped wheel.

The GT Premium adds ground effects, power antennae, 17-inch polished aluminum multi-spoke wheels, six-way power driver’s seat, leather interior, side airbags, ABS and 210-watt premium stereo with six-CD player and seven speakers.

Both Eclipse models are a smooth ride, with responsive handling, superb cornering and a low-in-the-bucket seating position that gives an even sportier feel. The V6 is definitely the better of the two for performance, and of course any car with a top that goes down wins points for that alone. The downside is that the price tag is exaggerated for what you’re getting – it’s hard to believe that the $35,148 Spyder GS doesn’t have ABS, even as an option, when you get it as standard equipment in a $12,995 Toyota Echo. For the coupe’s GT Premium price, you could take home 100 extra horses in the Mustang. And Mitsubishi’s spotty dealer network and uncertain future have to be a consideration as well.

The Eclipse is made in Normal, Illinois.

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