2011 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder
2011 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder. Click image to enlarge
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Review and photos by Jil McIntosh

Photo Gallery:
2011 Mitsubishi Eclipse

In some arid countries, there are people who perform rain dances in the hopes that the clouds will release some moisture. I do not understand why they go to all that trouble: all they need to do is give me a convertible to drive. Right on cue, sunny skies gave way to a week of rain when I picked up a 2011 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder. Solely for the sake of our readers, I braved the sprinkles for the joy of driving with that fabric top down. (I hope you appreciate it.)

The Illinois-built Spyder disappeared temporarily for 2010, but it wasn’t for a makeover. Rather, as Mitsubishi Canada told me, the timing for the 2010 models would have seen them released here in the dead of winter – hardly prime-time for drop-tops – and so the company opted to wait for the next batch. There are a few minor changes from the 2009 versions, including a standard auxiliary input jack, and a suspension that’s 15 millimetres closer to the ground. The GS model receives trim packages that give it a more aggressive appearance, along with standard electronic stability control, while my model, the GT-P, now contains standard Bluetooth and a rear-view camera. The camera’s display shows up in the rear-view mirror when the car’s in Reverse, and it’s really appreciated on this vehicle, since the car’s tall rump tends to ruin the rearward view when backing up.

2011 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder
2011 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder
2011 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder. Click image to enlarge

The GS uses a 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine, while my tester, the GT-P, carries a 3.8-litre V6. You can order it with a five-speed automatic, which adds $1,200, but mine had a six-speed manual. Oddly, while the company calls it a GT-P in all of its advertising, the car itself is badged as a GT V6 on the trunk.

The V6 makes 265 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque, and it’s a charmer. Engine-and-transmission-wise, this is one of the better vehicles on the road. The clutch is light and the short-throw shifter slips precisely into each gate; throttle tip-in is linear, the engine pulls hard through all the gears, and the exhaust rumbles deliciously through the twin pipes out the rear. Mitsubishi makes some great engines, and this is one of them.

Unfortunately, the wrapper isn’t quite as impressive; it’s a great engine trapped in a wobbly body. This is a good wind-in-your-hair boulevard cruiser, but it isn’t quite the driver’s car that Mitsubishi claims it to be. It lays on the torque-steer in gobs: hit it hard without holding on tight, and you’ll be changing a couple of lanes. I’d love to see this car with all-wheel drive, but then, its price would probably soar too high, and it’s already priced above the $31,399 V6 Mustang convertible.

If you’ve never understood the term “cowl shake,” the Eclipse Spyder will provide plenty of explanation. The windshield frame and the dash shudder as road imperfections work their way up from the wheels. The chassis feels loose and bumpy, and the car is creaky through corners, lurching rather than sharply snapping around them. I don’t feel a lot of confidence taking this car on hard curves; rather than an engineered convertible, the Spyder feels more like a coupe that’s simply had its roof lopped off.

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