CASEY WILLIAMS | Auto Reviewer
Life is good in Texas: Spring is here, summer is coming and love is in the air. To quote Cole Porter, “Birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it.”
Of course, the best way to attract a warming romance is to peel off your top, party like the last decade never came, and promenade your favorite club. Not that, you crazy homo: We’re talkin’ ‘bout driving the Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder.
At one point, every gay boy has swooned over the Eclipse. It first debuted as one of the “Diamond-Star” cars built in Illinois as a joint-venture between Mitsubishi and Chrysler. You might also have coveted the similar Plymouth Laser or Eagle Talon.
Priced reasonably, the front-drive coupe was a bunch of fun and looked sexy with its curvy body.
We even stuck by it when the Eclipse went through a “geometric” phase as if it wanted to be a bargain-priced Testarossa. Now, we have the organic edition that is a little pudgy, but should make most of the original’s fans very happy.
Perhaps too much of a pretty boy with its curvaceous body and smooth face, the Eclipse designers recently blacked in an Evo-style face to give it more attitude. There was something beautiful about the original body-colored schnoz, but some will like the nastier butchness post-facelift.
To get low and dirty for both performance and style, engineers lowered the Spyder’s ride more than half an inch. This gives the car a more aggressive stance while improving aerodynamics and fuel economy. A hard tonneau cover hides the convertible top when retracted while High Intensity Discharge headlamps up front and a ring of LEDs behind clear lenses in the rear sparkle the view coming and going.
Designers continued with more curves inside, but were smart enough to stock the cabin full of pleasure-producing novelties. I love the ice-blue LED lighting in the instruments and controls for a swanky new-age club feel. To rock the joint, hit the 650-watt 6-disc/MP3 stereo with 9 speakers, 8-in. subwoofer, auxiliary input jack for iPods, and available Sirius/XM radio.
No techno-ride would be complete without the Eclipse Spyder’s Bluetooth hands-free phone connection, rearview backup camera, aluminum pedals, and bright entry sills. Slip your backside into the heated leather seats to take the sting out of cool spring days. Mitsubishi’s leather-wrapped three-spoke steering wheel dares to be caressed.
Imagine being able to choose between a hot-blooded lover and a gentle cuddler. That’s the choice you have when deciding what goes under the Eclipse’s covers. If fuel economy is a concern, Mitsubishi offers a 16-valve, 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine in the
Eclipse GS Sport that generates 162 horsepower. If you want something more passionate, tick the list for the Eclipse GT and its 3.8-liter V6 that produces a squeal-giggling 265 hp.
Four-cylinder models come with a four-speed automatic transmission while the V6 is connected to a 5-speed Sportronic transmission that can be left in full-auto or manually shifted to rock your rocks. Four-cylinders achieve 20/27-MPG; V6s allow 16/24-MPG.
I taught my partner to drive a stick shift one Christmas holiday in an Eclipse. Much has changed since I first let him row my gears a decade ago, but the Eclipse is still a joy to drive. Power comes on smoothly and is shifted through a precise transmission. Its tight little four-wheel independent suspension glides over rough pavement, but stiffens up nicely when excited. You can drop this toy’s top in 19 seconds, making it perfect for a drive to the park on a sunny afternoon or romp across the continent just for the hell of it.
Proving safe sex is better sex, Mitsubishi loaded the Spyder with all of the latest gear. Advanced front airbags inflate at two levels of intensity, depending on crash forces, and can sense seat position and occupant weight for the best protection. There are also side airbags, but no curtains because of the soft top.
If you want to experience the sexier side of Mitsubishi, move your ass and buy an Eclipse now as Mitsubishi’s future plans center on small crossovers and micro-compacts. Unlike some other tricks, this one won’t cost a queen’s ransom. The entry-level GS Sport package comes with a long menu of standard accoutrement. Leather seating, heated front seats, power driver’s seat, aluminum pedals and entrance sills, HID headlamps and 18-in. alloy wheels are all included for a base price of $28K. To get that and all of the GT’s power, expect to roll out at least $32,828. Either way, that’s a reasonable price for this view of heaven. So, go on and indulge in a little romance.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 13, 2011.