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

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Mitsubishi Cars Canada

Review and photos by Paul Williams

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2009 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT-P
2009 Mitsubishi Galant Ralliart

Ottawa, Ontario – Mitsubishi vehicles are becoming a more common sight on Canadian roads, largely due to the success of the company’s latest Lancer compact car. Its distinctive styling sets it apart from the competition, and its wide model range extends from affordable commuter (DE trim) to all-wheel drive rally champion (Evolution). A ten-year Mitsubishi powertrain warranty also gets peoples’ attention.

Mitsubishi is in the process of updating its full lineup, including the midsize Galant sedan which also offers a wide model range, from the ES to the Ralliart (named after the company’s Motorsports division), the sportiest of the range.

2009 Mitsubishi Galant Ralliart
2009 Mitsubishi Galant Ralliart
2009 Mitsubishi Galant Ralliart
2009 Mitsubishi Galant Ralliart. Click image to enlarge

For 2009, all Galants receive a new grille, hood, front bumper and redesigned rear styling. The Ralliart receives new 10-spoke 18-inch alloy wheels, more power — now 258 horsepower from its 3.8-litre V6 engine — and four new colours (shades of blue, silver, beige and red). A GPS navigation system becomes standard equipment on the Ralliart, as does a Rockford Acoustic Design premium audio system.

On the road, this car feels fast and smooth. The leather seats are notably comfortable and supportive, appear finely crafted and feature contrasting stitching for a sporty look. The engine is responsive and willing, and virtually silent at speed. Steering is sharp and the suspension is tuned for a firm but pleasant ride.

There are some omissions that seem odd for a car in this class, including the lack of auto up/down windows (the driver’s window has auto down), no automatic headlamps, the single exhaust pipe and the lack of a folding rear seatback.

And the design of the video display implies that it raises and lowers. Too bad it doesn’t.

The most obvious idiosyncrasy when driving the Galant Ralliart isn’t related to the experience on the road, where it is a pleasure to drive, but in the parking lot, where its exceedingly large turning circle can make manoeuvring difficult. It will require a three-point turn where most cars can manage with a simple u-turn.

That being said, the $32,998 2009 Mitsubishi Galant Ralliart offers a lot of features in a sporting package at a price well below equivalent models from competing brands. It’s also something different, if you don’t like running with the pack.

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

Also receiving a “mid-cycle” refresh for 2009 is the Mitsubishi Eclipse. This front-wheel drive, 2 + 2 Coupe and Convertible (Spyder) gets a fairly comprehensive makeover front and rear, with the front fascia (lights, grille, fenders) now echoing the Lancer’s more aggressive appearance.

The GT-P V6 model gets a horsepower increase to 265 at 5,750 rpm (torque rises to a healthy 262 lb.-ft at 4,500 rpm) and associated exhaust tuning for better sound. This model also receives high intensity discharge (HID) headlamps, Rockford premium audio, and active stability control as standard equipment. Starting at $34,798, the GT-P Coupe is now fitted with a large rear spoiler.

The Eclipse is regarded by Mitsubishi as a luxury model, and its exterior design is certainly classy and modern. But inside, the tailoring on the seats isn’t top-notch, and looks a step down from those in the Galant Ralliart, or the wonderful seats in the Lancer Evolution MR.

The Eclipse, especially the V6 model, is really about visual appeal and power, and it has no shortage of either. In fact, it probably didn’t need more power from an engine that already made this a surprisingly quick car. Torque-steer under rapid acceleration is still fierce, but when driven moderately is not a problem.

On a twisting secondary road with the top down, the $37,798 Eclipse Spyder GT-P is a very pleasant car to drive. There’s little wind buffeting in the cabin (with the side windows up) and the premium audio system is easily heard. But like the Galant, this vehicle’s turning circle is too big, which makes manoeuvring in tight spaces a chore.

Eclipses are available in three new colours for 2009: blue, silver and yellow, and both the Galant Ralliart and Eclipse Coupe and Spyder are appearing in showrooms now.

Mitsubishi Eclipses can also be purchased with 2.4-litre, four-cylinder engines starting at $25,998 for the Coupe and $32,298 for the Spyder.

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