2009 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT-P V6
2009 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT-P V6. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Haney Louka

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2009 Mitsubishi Eclipse

Winnipeg, Manitoba – There’s no doubt: coming or going, Mitsubishi’s Eclipse GT-P makes a statement. First, there’s our tester’s Solar Yellow paint and in-your-face rear wing. There’s also the dual exhaust that not only stands out visually, but after the expensive-sounding starter fires up the potent V6 engine, those two pipes emit a throaty burble to give the Eclipse a bark that lives up to its bite. In fact, upon hearing it, one bystander asked, “that’s an aftermarket exhaust system, right?” It’s a strong statement, to be sure. But how does that flashy first impression translate into satisfaction as a daily driver? Read on.

Mitsubishi promotes its Eclipse sports coupe as an attainable exotic, and I can see where they’re coming from. When the Eclipse was first introduced in 1990, which is coincidentally the year I obtained my driver’s licence, I lusted after that car and its Eagle twin, the Talon. That the Mitsu wasn’t even offered here in Canada at that time just added to its allure. The versions of these cars that appealed to me the most were equipped with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine and all-wheel drive.

2009 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT-P V6
2009 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT-P V6. Click image to enlarge

It’s been a while since those days, and Mitsubishi’s focus with the Eclipse has evolved (or devolved, depending on your perspective) from a screaming handler into more of a long-legged grand-tourer. The current generation was introduced in 2006 but has undergone minor changes for ’09. There’s been a splash of black added to the fascia of the Eclipse to give it a trapezoidal-shaped snout reminiscent of the rally-inspired Lancer Evolution. A larger rear wing adorns the hatch of GT-P-trimmed models, which are also treated to dual exhaust, xenon headlamps, and active stability control as standard equipment.

The four-cylinder-equipped Eclipse GS starts the bidding at $25,998 and includes 17-inch alloys, leather for the steering wheel and shift knob, heated seats, side curtain airbags, six-speaker audio, and a five-speed stick. Power windows, locks, and keyless entry are also along for the ride. Oh yeah, and let’s not forget that Mitsubishi is king of warranties: its five-year comprehensive and ten-year powertrain coverage should ease the minds of those shoppers unfamiliar with the relatively young (in Canada) automotive brand.

The only two available factory options on the GS are a $1,200 automatic transmission and the $3,300 “Sun and sound” package that includes a sunroof, 650-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system, satellite radio, steering wheel audio controls, and a few other goodies.

2009 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT-P V6
2009 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT-P V6
2009 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT-P V6. Click image to enlarge

Our GT-P tester jumps up to $34,798 and includes the new-for-’09 features mentioned above, plus a V6 engine, six-speed manual transmission, 18-inch alloys, automatic climate control, leather upholstery, power driver’s seat, traction control, plus the items included in the GS sun and sound package. The sole option is a $1,200 five-speed automatic transmission.

But back to the Eclipse’s grand-touring aspirations: the first clue that we’re no longer looking at a high-strung, corner-shredding scalpel on wheels is its torquey 3.8-litre V6 that manages to provide stellar thrust throughout its operating range. No turbo lag, no peaky four-banger, just smooth power all the time. And while 265 horsepower is less than what would be expected from such a big engine these days (Hyundai’s Genesis Coupe churns out 306 horses from the same displacement), the engine has a torque curve that’s as flat the Trans-Canada through Saskatchewan (which is almost as flat as the Trans-Canada through Manitoba).

Trouble is, the 262 lb-ft of torque that this monster V6 belts out is routed through the front wheels. No problem, except that the front wheels are also tasked with making the car go in the direction its driver desires. It’s all just too much; especially when one considers that the two rear wheels are then just along for the ride. The result: torque-steer, that undesirable left-right darting that the car does as the front tires take turns finding traction.

And from rest, response from the electronic throttle is hair-trigger and takes getting used to. Resist going deep into the power in first or second gears, though, and the car’s responses under acceleration become much more intuitive. At that point, it’s just fun to lean into the go pedal.

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