The stereo controls take the shape of four hard buttons underneath the CD aperture, which can be used to cycle through radio stations, CD tracks, and folders for MP3 discs. The main display in the cabin is an LCD in the style of LCDs of old: a blocky, monochrome readout nestled in a pod on top of the dash. Unsurprisingly, no ID3-tag information is available. Other tech features on our tester included heated front seats and power air conditioning (both courtesy of the Premium Sport Package).
Baseball shifter is a hit
Being front-wheel drive, the 2007 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder GT will doubtless elicit charges of not being a real sports car. It has a pretty solid defense, however, in the shape of its 3.8-liter 24-valve V-6, which drums up a more-than-adequately-sporty 260 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque at 4,500rpm. Our tester came with the six-speed manual (a five-speed automatic is also available), controlled with a miniature-baseball-topped shifter, that enabled us to snick through the gears with a precise and gratifying mechanical action.
From behind the wheel, the Eclipse feels sluggish off the line, thanks to its hefty 3,671-pound curb weight: a pretty dismal 0 to 60 time of nearly 7 seconds is not going to give it any bragging rights against many other convertible compacts.
Once in motion, however, it's a different story. Torque feels abundant from very low down, and a squeeze of the gas pedal at anything above 2,000rpm causes the Eclipse GT to start forward--in the words of Hamlet's Horatio, "like a guilty thing upon some fearful summons." Put more prosaically, it hauls ass. Accelerating from 60mph to 80mph in fourth gear is an absolute delight, while those of a more intrepid nature will enjoy holding third gear until it approaches the redline, and the car flirts with 90mph.
We have to admit to being somewhat surprised to find that the 2007 Eclipse GT comes with a traction-control system, as we managed to unintentionally spin the front wheels on multiple occasions when pulling off from the lights and when changing up from first to second. Torque-steer was also conspicuous when attempting more spirited starts from standing. Despite its front-heavy (58/42) weight distribution, the Eclipse displayed passable handling through winding mountain roads, although it is conspicuously less nimble than its two-seater competitors such as the 2006 Mazda Miata and the 2006 Pontiac Solstice . Turn-in from the power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering was precise at low speeds and when accelerating through bends, but felt light when driving at full-tilt on the highway. The EPA rates the Eclipse Spyder GT at 17mpg city and 26mpg highway.
ABS, EBD as standard
The 2007 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder GT has its fair share of standard safety features. ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) comes as standard, as do power-assisted four-wheel disc brakes, and front and rear stabilizing bars. Driver and passenger get dual-stage frontal airbags as well as front seat-mounted side-impact airbags. One of the car's few electronic safety devices is the occupancy-sensing system, which turns off the passenger airbag when an adult is not seated in the seat. As of this writing, the 2007 Eclipse Spyder had not been rated for crash and rollover safety by the NHTSA.
Our Spyder GT tester came with a base price of $28,269. To this was added the $1,730 GT Premium sport package (leather front seats;18-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, power driver seat, alloy pedals, heated front seats, and heated side mirrors); the Accessory package (alloy fuel door, wheel locks, sport floor mats); and a destination charge of $625. Also available, but not present on our tester, is a $1,620 Aero package, which gives the Eclipse Spyder front corner air dams, sport side sills, and rear wake modifier. All told, it racked up to $30,933.
We enjoyed our week with the car, and found a fun cruiser with a good deal of style. The Eclipse Spyder GT will fit the bill for those who want a stylish soft-top 2+2 with a look-at-me audio system and a comfy ride. Boy racers looking for a bit more punch from a V-6 cabriolet and a purer sports-car experience for less than $40K, however, might want to look elsewhere--starting with a test-drive of the Nissan 350Z roadster or the 2007 Pontiac G6 GT Convertible.
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