2007 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder
2007 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder. Click image to enlarge


Review and photos by Greg Wilson

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Used to be that racy-looking cars were temperamental and often difficult to drive smoothly. ‘Armstrong’ steering, heavy clutches, grinding transmissions, stiff rides and noisy powertrains were all part of the price you paid for a performance car. How things have changed! The 2007 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder proves that low-slung, aggressively-styled sporty cars can be as easy to drive as an ordinary family sedan – well, with a couple of exceptions which I’ll get to in a minute.

Among convertibles in the $30- to $40,000 range, the Eclipse Spyder is certainly the most dramatically-styled. Based on the Eclipse Coupe which was redesigned for 2006, the 2007 Eclipse Spyder is even more striking, especially with the convertible top down. Its short nose and steeply raked windshield provides a racy profile while its prominent fender bulges and rounded tail with a protruding chrome lip-spoiler are truly eye-catching – especially when the Spyder is painted in the bright red exterior colour of my test car.

Not everybody will like the styling of the Eclipse Spyder – I find it a bit ‘over the top’ myself – but hats off to Mitsubishi for creating a convertible that can never be mistaken for anything else.

Standard features

2007 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder
2007 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder
2007 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder. Click image to enlarge

As with the Eclipse Coupe, the 2007 Eclipse Spyder is offered with four or six-cylinder powerplants. The base Eclipse Spyder GS ($31,998) comes with the 162-hp 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine and five-speed manual transmission or optional four-speed automatic with sequential manual shift mode. Even this four-cylinder Spyder gets upscale features like a standard Rockford Fosgate audio system with six-disc in-dash CD/MP3 changer and nine speakers including an eight-inch subwoofer; side airbags, power fabric black top, P225/50R17-inch radials and alloy wheels (w/temporary spare tire), disc brakes with ABS, air conditioning, heated front (fabric) seats, power windows with driver’s auto-down, cruise control, tilt wheel with audio controls, alarm system, remote keyless entry, power door locks, height-adjustable driver’s seat, remote trunk release, fog lights, chrome exhaust tip, and engine immobilizer.

The Eclipse Spyder GT-P ($36,998), this week’s test car, adds the 260-hp 3.8-litre V6 and standard six-speed manual transmission, traction control, P235/45R18-inch tires and alloy wheels, leather front seats, power driver’s seat, and automatic climate control. The V6-powered GT-P also has aluminum foot pedals, compass and outside temperature displays, and rear disc brakes that are one-inch wider in diameter. As standard equipment, GT-P owners can choose a grey instrument panel or a two-tone grey and red panel. As well, the front leather seats are offered in charcoal, medium grey, or terra cotta two-tone. A five-speed automatic transmission with manual shift modes ($1,200) is optional.


Convertible top

2007 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder 2007 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder
2007 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder 2007 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder
2007 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder 2007 Mistubishi Eclipse Spyder
2007 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder. Click images to enlarge

A power-operated convertible top is standard and it takes about 20 seconds to put up or down. To lower it, the driver must first release two clips on the windshield header and press the ‘Open’ button on the lower centre console. The side windows lower automatically, and then in a coordinated ballet, the rear section of the convertible top lifts up, the hard tonneau cover opens up to reveal a cavity, the entire top folds into it, and the hard tonneau then closes flush with the trunklid. When lowered, the Spyder’s top is completely concealed creating a very attractive and finished appearance.

With the top up, the Spyder’s profile looks more awkward than the coupe’s, but that’s typical of convertibles. From the driver’s point of view, the big disadvantage to the convertible top is the large blind spot at the right rear-quarter that makes it difficult to change lanes and parallel-park. As well, the rear window is small, but at least it is made of glass and has an electric defogger.

2007 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder
2007 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder
2007 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder
2007 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder
2007 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder
2007 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder
2007 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder. Click image to enlarge


Interior impressions

Though it’s a four-passenger car, the Spyder’s rear seat is really only good for short trips. If you don’t want your friends asking you for a ride, put them in the back seat for 15 minutes, and they’ll never ask you again. There is very little legroom and the backrest is almost vertical, making it very uncomfortable.

The front sport seats, however, are very comfortable and supportive and include power height and lumbar adjustments and big side and thigh bolsters that provide lateral support when cornering. The front leather seats come with seat heaters with ‘High’ and ‘Low’ temperature settings.

On top of the dash is a hooded LCD information display with time, outside temperature, compass, and radio station/CD track display. But depending on the glare, it’s sometimes difficult to see it.

The small, fat-rimmed, leather-wrapped steering wheel has a meaty grip, and tilts up and down. Still, even with a height-adjustable driver’s seat and a tilt wheel, I had trouble finding a position where I could feel comfortable and see the gauges too. The deep round gauges, particularly the smaller ones, are difficult to read in the daytime, but at night, their blue backlighting improves the readability.

Part and parcel of this fast and furious convertible is its powerful, Rockford Fosgate stereo system with nine speakers including a prominent subwoofer positioned in the centre of the rear seat backrest. The sound is crisp and clear but can be overwhelming. There’s enough bass here to shake your fillings out, and those of your fellow motorists.

V6 Spyders come with automatic climate control, and I found the controls easy to use; but as with the Eclipse coupe, the ‘A/C’ display turns with the fan dial so that it’s usually off-centre. I don’t know why, but that really bugs me. (I also straighten picture frames in other people’s houses).

The well-placed shift lever has two cupholders directly behind it, which is probably not the best place to put them. For charging phones there’s a 12-volt power outlet near the shift lever, and one inside the centre storage bin where you can keep valuables out of sight.

The small trunk features a remote release, but at 5.2 cubic feet, it’s only a third of the size of the cargo area in the Eclipse Coupe (hatchback).


Driving impressions

As I mentioned earlier, the Eclipse Spyder is easy to drive, and has plenty of pep too. A smooth, willing 3.8-litre DOHC 24-valve V6 engine, slick six-speed manual transmission, gentle clutch take-up, responsive and nicely-weighted steering, and powerful but easy-to-modulate brakes all make the Spyder a user-friendly sporty car.

2007 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder 2007 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder
2007 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder 2007 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder
2007 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder
2007 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder. Click images to enlarge

With 260 hp @ 5,750 rpm and 258 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4,500 rpm, the Eclipse Spyder is no slouch, zipping from 0 to 100 km/h in about 6.2 seconds. Unlike turbos, the naturally-aspirated V6 has a smooth, even power band, and it’s easy to row through the gears while enjoying a sporty burble from the chrome exhaust pipe. However, with so much power going through the front wheels, some torque-steer occurs under very hard acceleration from a standing start. Traction control is standard in the V6 Spyder, and this will help in the winter if the driver gives it too much gas. Best advice is to modulate your right foot if things are slippery.

At steady cruising speeds, the Spyder’s engine is relaxed and quiet. The engine speed at 100 km/h in sixth gear is just 2000 rpm, and at 120 km/h, it’s 2500 rpm.

2007 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder
2007 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder. Click image to enlarge

Fuel consumption figures weren’t available at press time, but the 2006 Eclipse V6 I drove earlier offered 13.3 L/100 km (21 mpg Imp) city, and 8.1 L/100 km (35 mpg Imp) highway. Premium gas is recommended for the V6 engine.

Handling is neutral with very little lean and mild understeer at the limit. The suspension is independent (front MacPherson strut/rear multi-link) and the Goodyear Eagle P235/45R18-inch tires on my test car stuck to the pavement with no tire squeal when pressed. Somewhat surprisingly, the Eclipse Spyder has a very comfortable ride and is a very pleasant highway cruiser.

The Spyder’s power-assisted rack and pinion steering is quick and responsive and easy to turn at slow speeds, but its turning circle (12.2 m/40 ft.) is unacceptably wide for a sporty car.


Warranty

Mitsubishi Canada’s excellent warranty should be mentioned: 5 years/100,000 km on the entire car, and 10 years/160,000 km on the powertrain. That’s a lot of peace of mind.


Verdict

With its striking styling, smooth and powerful V6 engine, good driveability, and well-equipped interior, the 2007 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder is a user-friendly sporty car. However, poor rear visibility with the top up, a wide turning circle, and occasional torque-steer are negatives.


Pricing: 2007 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder GT-P


Specifications

Type 2-door, 4-passenger convertible
Layout ransverse front engine/front-wheel drive
Engine 3.8 litre V6, SOHC, 24 valves, MIVEC
Horsepower 260 hp @ 5,750 rpm
Torque 258 lb.-ft. @ 4,500 rpm
Transmission 6-speed manual (5-speed automatic w/Sportronic)
Tires P235/45R18 all-season
Curb weight 1,705 kg (3759 lb.)
Wheelbase 2,575 mm (101.4 in.)
Length 4,565 mm (179.7 in.)
Width 1,835 mm (72.2 in.)
Height 1,381 mm (54.4 in.)
cargo capacity 147 litres (5.2 cu. ft.)
Fuel consumption City: n/a
  Hwy: n/a
Fuel type Unleaded (Premium)
Warranty 5 yrs/100,000 km
Powertrain warranty 10 yrs/160,000 km


Crash test results


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