A Brief Look at the Mitsubishi Eclipse

Mitsubishi Eclipse Picture

The Evolution of the Mitsubishi Eclipse: A Comprehensive Guide

Mitsubishi has been producing Eclipse sports vehicles since 1989, and the brand’s reputation has been consistently associated with reliable, well-engineered cars. The Eclipse has become iconic and beloved by sporty driving enthusiasts who appreciate its athletic personality and striking looks. This combined with its rich history and evolution has made the Eclipse one of the most sought after sports cars of its time. The Eclipse has always been a popular choice for those who favor a sports-oriented car with a sleek design, agility, and performance. Here is a comprehensive guide detailing the entire history and evolution of the Mitsubishi Eclipse model.

The First Generation of the Mitsubishi Eclipse: 1989-1994

The Mitsubishi Eclipse was introduced in 1989 as a compact sports car designed to cater to budget-minded drivers. The first generation Eclipse was designed with the joint effort of Chrysler and Mitsubishi, making it a collaborative effort. The car was initially called the Mitsubishi Plymouth Laser when it was introduced, but it was rebranded soon after to a much-favored Mitsubishi Eclipse. The 1989 model was a two-door hatchback that came with front-wheel drive as a standard option.

The first generation Mitsubishi Eclipse was released with four different engines: a 92 horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, a 135 horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder, a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine producing 190 horsepower, and a 141 horsepower, 2.0-liter V6. The 1990 model was the first to introduce the all-wheel-drive capability, or All-Wheel Control as Mitsubishi labeled it.

The first generation had a number of different versions produced in its five-year run, featuring subtle modifications and updates from its initial release. An update in 1992 added a new front wheel drive Spyder convertible model to the lineup, while the flagship performance cars were a turbocharged model produced from 1990-1994 called the GSX, available in a tilting or straight hood design.

The Second Generation of the Mitsubishi Eclipse: 1995-1999

Mitsubishi launched the second-generation Eclipse in 1995, and it was completely redesigned from the ground up. The second-generation car was built on an updated version of the same platform used in the previous model. The new exterior featured a slanted, sleek look that appeared more aggressive than the first generation.

The second-generation Eclipse was available with the same 2.0-liter four-cylinder and 2.0-liter V6 engines as the first-generation, albeit with some slight modifications. The 2.0-liter produced 140 horsepower and remained the standard engine, with the V6 in a limited 5-speed model producing 205 horsepower. The iconic turbocharged version also remained, creating 210 horsepower.

Unique features of the second-generation Eclipse include the “Speed Stripe” decal that adorned the side of the vehicle, and this iteration included the addition of the limited Spyder convertible versions. Additionally, the Eclipse convertible line included a special series called the “Limited Edition” in 1996 and 1997.

The Third Generation of the Mitsubishi Eclipse: 2000-2005

The third-generation Mitsubishi Eclipse was introduced in 2000, and this time it was built on a new platform. The exterior of the vehicle was entirely different from the second generation, with an updated rounded design that curved and bubbled outwards in a way never seen before.

The third-generation Eclipse was initially available with either the same 2.4-liter four-cylinder or the 3.0-liter V6 engine options from previous models. In 2003, another version was added called the GTS, with a new 3.0-liter V6 boasting a whopping 210 horsepower. Additional features such as keyless entry, power windows and cruise control were made standard options across the range.

The convertible model returned as the Spyder, and an additional lightweight racing-concept version called the Ralliart was introduced as well. Initially, the Ralliart model was available only in the US market but later became available in Japan later in the production run.

The Fourth Generation of the Mitsubishi Eclipse: 2006-2012

Mitsubishi introduced the fourth-generation Eclipse in 2006. It had a completely different design and was widely regarded as a departure from its previous sportscar roots. The fourth-generation Eclipse looked more like a luxury sedan than a sports car.

The fourth-generation Eclipse was initially only available in three trim levels: GS, GT, and the top-of-the-line SE. All three trims had a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produced 162 horsepower as standard. A 3.8-liter V6 with 263 horsepower became available in 2008 but was only available in the GT trim.

The fourth-generation Eclipse was the last iteration of the Eclipse model. Towards the end of its run, the only available option was the GT model with a manual gearbox and the V6 engine.

The Eclipse is a Mitsubishi Icon

The Mitsubishi Eclipse evolved significantly over four generations, with each model featuring unique features and refinements. This iconic vehicle has undergone changes that were sometimes great and other times subtle, but no matter the evolution, the Eclipse has always garnered attention. Although the final fourth-generation Eclipse strayed away from its earlier sports car identity, its previous models remain respected and sought after by enthusiasts today. The Mitsubishi Eclipse stands as a testament to what can be accomplished when a brand carefully evolves a model, gradually refining and perfecting it until it reaches a level of excellence.


Other Mitsubishi Models