Mitsubishi Motors was once known as a racecar automaker. Entering rally car races and winning the World Rally Championship (WRC) multiple times with a variety of models, we looked at the Starion 4WD, the Lancer Evolution, and the Galant AMG. Although most of these have yet to be seen again, one model found a new life as a crossover. The one and only Mitsubishi Eclipse had a wonderful life, spanning from 1990 – 2012, and found a new spark as the Eclipse Cross.
Named after an 18th century English racehorse, when the first generation of the two-door, four-seat Mitsubishi sports car launched, the sporty coupe had a diverse lineup with the Eclipse, Eclipse GS, Eclipse GS-T (Turbo), and Eclipse GSX making up the group. The high-end trim GSX came with all-wheel drive (AWD), with front-wheel drive (FWD) standard on the rest of the lineup. For a power boost, the Turbo and GSX trims came with a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4G63 engine under the hood, able to generate up to 195 horsepower, accelerate from 0-60 mph in less than seven seconds, this engine made it to Car and Driver’s “10 Best Lift” for four years running (1989 -1992). The Eclipse was a terrific combination of form, function, beauty, and technology.
A game-changer came with the second-generation, introducing the Eclipse Spyder. Designed as a soft-top convertible, Mitsubishi consumers could enjoy the open air in this new coupe. Available in two trim levels, GS and GS-T, the standard powertrain was a 4G64 aspirated engine, whereas the GS-T of course came with the turbocharged 4G63 of the first generation. We saw some real changes in 2003 onward.
The Eclipse GTS trim received some tune-ups for performance, eventually installing a new cornerstone powertrain, the 3.0-liter V6 with a variable induction system that raised the horsepower output to 200. With power increases, the automaker needed a style to match, and the Mitsubishi E-boost concept earned the Eclipse the prestigious 2005 Gold Industrial Design Excellence Award (IDEA) for its soft form that strayed away from the boxy look of the market whilst using athletic lines to convey performance. Thanks to the coupe’s Sportronic transmission and the new version that eventually spawned Mitsubishi Motors Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC), the Eclipse went on to inspire new changes and features that showed up in later models.
The end of an era, the Eclipse Special Edition (SE) marked the end of the sports car’s run, and was released on both the sport coupe and Spyder convertible. Painted Kalapana Black, the 2012 Special Edition came with distinctive badging, a leather interior with contrasting stitching, a sunroof for the coupe version, and a choice of two engines: a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine able to generate 162 horsepower or a 3.8-liter V6 able to generate up to 265 horsepower. The last unit was produced in 2011, and the last Eclipse SE was auctioned off, with the proceeds going to Japanese Red Cross during the 2011 Töhoku earthquake and tsunami crisis.
2017 – New Life
The Eclipse returned as the Eclipse Cross in 2017. Although there was some backlash at first, the Eclipse Cross had a strong reception. Still going and upgrading as the automaker changes its focus on electric vehicle development, the Eclipse Cross PHEV is on the drawing board and the 2023 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross was recently released. We may not see the return of any of the Mitsubishi rally racecars, but the automaker is determined to meet the market demand for high-performance EVs. What will the automaker release next? Stay up to date with Mitsubishi Motors news when you follow us on Miami Lakes Mitsubishi social media.