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The Mitsubishi Eclipse is a sport compact car that was produced by Mitsubishi in four generations between 1989 and 2011. A convertible body style was added during the 1996 model year.
The first two generations (1G and 2G) share the automobile platform and parts with the rebadged Eagle Talon and Plymouth Laser captive imports. They were built during Mitsubishi Motors' close relationship with Chrysler Corporation. Their partnership was known as Diamond-Star Motors (DSM). In Japan, the first two generations were sold at a specific Japanese retail chain called Mitsubishi Car Plaza. The third generation (3G) shared a redesigned platform with the Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Stratus. During May 2005, the fourth, and final, generation (4G) Eclipse was introduced, replacing the Chrysler platform used in the first three generations with the PS platform.
According to Mitsubishi Motors, the Eclipse was named after an unbeaten 18th-century English racehorse that had won 26 races.
The Eclipse was officially sold in North America, the Middle East, South Korea, the Philippines, Brazil, and China. At the end of August 2011, the final Eclipse rolled off the assembly line, and was auctioned off, the proceeds donated to charity.
In January 2017, Mitsubishi stated that it plans to resurrect the Eclipse name on a compact crossover vehicle, titled the Eclipse Cross, which debuted at the 2017 Geneva Auto Show in March. The new Eclipse will slot between the Mitsubishi ASX and Mitsubishi Outlander in the Mitsubishi lineup.
First generation (1G, 1990–1994)
The first generation Mitsubishi Eclipse was marketed as an entry to mid-level four-cylinder sports coupe. Four trim levels were available; all were front-wheel drive except the GSX which was all-wheel drive. The GS Turbo and GSX were equipped with turbocharged engines.
The first generation Eclipse underwent minor styling changes during its production; 1992–1994 models have updated sheetmetal and are easily distinguishable from earlier model years. The most notable is that the 1990-1991 models have pop-up headlights, whereas the later model years do not. The Eclipse was revised for the 1995 model year as the second generation.
The Eclipse was available in five trim levels during its first-generation production run. AWD models were not available until halfway through the first model year.
* The 1990 GS Turbo with a manual transmission was rated at 190 hp, whereas the 1990 GSX with a manual transmission was rated at 195 hp (145 kW). This was for the purpose of offsetting the additional weight of the AWD mechanism (approximately 2,930 lbs Vs 2,570 lbs GVW). However, 1991 and later years of both turbo models standardized on the 195 hp version 4G63T. The automatic models were rated at 180 hp (130 kW) due to smaller fuel-injectors and turbocharger.
These models varied significantly in drivetrains and available options, and included some variance in appearance, as higher trim lines added different front and rear fascia panels and surrounding trim, with the GSX model getting a notably different styling package from the others.
The basic driveline layout of the Eclipse is a transverse-mounted 4-cylinder Mitsubishi 4G37 or 4G63 engine situated on the left-hand side of the car driving an automatic or manual transmission on the right-hand side. AWD models have a different transmission which includes a limited-slip center differential and output shaft for a transfer case, which drives the rear differential (also available as limited-slip) and half-shafts.
There is also a difference between rear axle/rear ends on all-wheel-drive models. 1990-early 1992 cars have three bolts attaching the axle to the wheel hub. Late 1992–1994 have larger-diameter axles and attach to the hub with bigger, 4-bolt axle cups.
The 4G37 and 4G63 engines are both inline-four gasoline engines. The 4G63 is composed of an iron engine block and aluminum cylinder head and is equipped with 2 balance shafts for smooth operation. The turbocharged version of the 4G63 (sometimes referred to as the 4G63T) is equipped with a lower compression ratio (7.8 in 1990–1994, 8.5 in 1995 - 1999 and 9.0 in the naturally aspirated version) and oil squirters under the pistons for better cooling from extra heat introduced in the system by forced induction. The turbocharged 4G63 engine received an internal update during the 1992 model year. The engines built from 1989 through April 1992 have 6-bolt motors. Beginning in May 1992, Mitsubishi revised the engine to a 7-bolt design. The bolts refer to the number of bolts on the flywheel that connect to the crankshaft. The original 6-bolt design is generally regarded as a stronger engine due to the bolt design as well as thicker connecting rods.
Problems and issues
In March 1998, Mitsubishi issued a recall (bulletin 98V069001) for all 1990-1998 Mitsubishi Eclipse GSXs citing, "Lockup of the transfer case can occur due to insufficient lubrication. The condition can cause a loss of vehicle control increasing the risk of a crash." The dealers would inspect the vehicles for adequacy of the transfer case oil volume, transfer case oil leakage, and operational degradation of the transfer case mechanism. The transfer case itself did not leak but rather the brass plug in the center of the transfer case yoke would leak. Mitsubishi estimated 24,275 vehicles were affected.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has determined crash test ratings of the 1G Eclipse:
The Eclipse Turbo was on Car and Driver magazine's Ten Best list for 1989–1992.
Second generation (2G, 1995–1999)
The Eclipse was completely redesigned in 1994 (for the 1995 model year) and now came with standard dual air bags, more rounded styling, a larger interior and a new engine made by Chrysler for the base model. The second generation car maintained the market focus of the first generation car but had numerous changes to appeal to a broader market. A convertible model, named the Eclipse Spyder, was introduced in 1996 offered in two trim levels; the GS and the GS-T. The Spyder GS was powered by a 2.4L I-4 naturally aspirated 4G64 engine. The Spyder GS-T was fitted with Mitsubishi's turbocharged 4G63 engine. The GSX model was also powered by this engine but with the addition of a high performance all wheel drive system. No convertible model was powered by the Chrysler's 420a engine, nor was there a convertible with all-wheel-drive.
The turbocharged engine option continued as the 4G63. It was also updated for more power as compared to the previous generation (210 hp (157 kW) vs 195 hp (145 kW)). The naturally aspirated cars had two different I-4 engines depending on the market they were produced for. The US version engines produced 140 hp, found only in the RS and GS trims, and were a modified version of the Chrysler Neon engine, the 420a, manufactured by Chrysler and delivered to and installed at the Diamond Star Motors facility. The European market engines were a naturally aspirated 4G63 with 141 hp (105 kW; 143 PS). International market Eclipses made less horsepower than their Japanese domestic market relatives when equipped with the 4G63 (210 hp (157 kW), 154 hp (115 kW)), due to emissions regulations at the time.
As the width dimension and larger engines were offered to Japanese consumers, it was now regarded as a luxury car, as this generation no longer complied with Japanese Government dimension regulations, and Japanese consumers were liable for annual taxes as a result, which affected sales.
A special version of the Eclipse, called the "10th Anniversary OZ Rally", was sold at the end of the 1999 model run with unique 16-inch Enkei wheels with the OZ Racing logo. It also included the leather interior package, accented exhaust exit, and hoop-style spoiler that were available as standard equipment on GS-T and GSX models. The special edition package was only offered with the 420A engine.
A unique version of the 2G Eclipse was sold in some European countries. It used a naturally aspirated Mitsubishi 4G63 motor, similar to what was available in the 1G, unique sideview mirrors, and amber rear turn signals.
A minor style revision was applied for the 1997 model year. The front grille opening was given a more aggressive profile. The headlights were given a sharper slant on the inner edges, and the previous all-chrome fixture interior changed to a black interior with chrome reflector inserts. The driving lights were revised from a reflector type to a smaller projection type. The rear bumper cap was altered and had the reverse lights restyled and moved out into the bumper fascia, away from their original central position by the license plate bracket. The GS-T coupe and GSX received a large rear spoiler. The interior color choices also changed from blue, and grey in 1995–1996 model years to black/grey, tan/black, and grey in the 1997–1999 model years. The black leather interior option was only available in 1999; the package included all seats (with the 'Mitsubishi' logo embroidered on both of the fronts), door inserts, and center console armrest.
The Eclipse was available in seven trim levels: Base [Only available in 1996.5 (mid-model year)], RS (Rally Sport), GS (Grand Sport), GS Spyder, GS-T (Grand Sport Turbo), GS-T Spyder, and GSX (Grand Sport X=AWD).
The basic driveline layout of the Eclipse is a transverse-mounted 4-cylinder Chrysler 420A, Mitsubishi 4G64 or 4G63 engine. The Mitsubishi motors are mounted in the same orientation as the first generation cars. The 420a-powered cars had the engine mounted on the right side of the car, and further back in the chassis. AWD models had a similar transmission to the first generation car. The second generation GSX also had a stronger carrier/differential when equipped with the limited slip option.
All motors are four-cylinder gasoline engines. All have cast iron blocks with aluminum cylinder heads. The 4G63/4G64 engines retain the balance shafts for smoother operation, while the 420a does not use them. The 1995–1999 turbo engines were given an increased compression ratio of 8.5:1, up from 7.8:1, and a smaller turbo, a Garrett T25 set to 12 psi in place of the previous Mitsubishi TD04-13G (automatic cars) and TD05-14B (manual cars). This was done to minimize turbo lag, which was an undesirable trait for mass-market appeal in the U.S. These changes led to increased horsepower and torque vs. the previous 1G turbos. The 2G turbo cars produced 210 hp (157 kW) at 6000 rpm (205 hp (153 kW) at 6000 rpm w/ AT) and 214 lb·ft (290 N·m) at 3000 rpm (220 lb·ft (298 N·m) at 3000 rpm w/ AT.)
The 4G63 engines found in 1990–1994 models have a 60 mm throttle body compared to the 1995–1999 MY's 52 mm. The intake ports on the head and runners of the intake manifold are also larger on the 1G. They also have larger crankshaft bearing journals to allow better lubrication. Because they look similar, it is important to note that the 1990-1994 cylinder head is more on the side of high air volume, while the 1995-1999 cylinder head is more on the side of high air velocity.
Mitsubishi Motors quietly updated its 4G63 engine in 1998 and 1999. The crankshaft is more precisely shaved and cut compared to previous years. It is identical to that used in the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, which was not yet sold in North America until 2003. The thrust bearings have been revised to a "split" type to allow better lubrication and self-alignment with the crankshaft. It also had improved tuning & functionality, thanks to a new ECU, which was similar to Lancer Evolution ECUs. Although originally deactivated to protect the drivetrain, it included advanced features such as launch control, boost control, adjustable rev-limit, fuel system control and even fuel and boost map selection for certain Mitsubishi Heavy Industries turbochargers.
Problems and issues
The 2G Eclipse received numerous Technical Service Bulletins (TSB) affecting a variety of issues with the car however there was one notable powertrain recall. In March 1998, Mitsubishi issued a recall (bulletin 98V069001) for all 1990-1998 Mitsubishi Eclipse GSXs citing, "Lockup of the transfer case can occur due to insufficient lubrication. The condition can cause a loss of vehicle control increasing the risk of a crash." The dealers would inspect the vehicles for adequacy of the transfer case oil volume, transfer case oil leakage, and operational degradation of the transfer case mechanism. The transfer case itself did not leak but rather the brass plug in the center of the transfer case yoke would leak. Mitsubishi estimated 24,275 vehicles were affected.
Another issue that impacted the mid 1995-1997 Eclipse GS-T/GSX (4G63 equipped vehicles) is thrust bearing failure commonly referred to in the Eclipse community as "crankwalk." Mitsubishi never publicly addressed the issue via a recall or TSB. There were a variety of symptoms however the most common symptom of crankwalk is the clutch pedal would stick to the floor upon making a left turn. If crankwalk occurred, it typically meant engine failure. In 1998, Mitsubishi revised manufacturing processes to correct the issue.
All 2G Eclipses came standard with driver and front-passenger air bags, side-guard door beams, front and rear body structure crumple zones, 5 mph energy absorbing bumpers, safety-cage body construction, 4- wheel disc brakes (except RS), three-point ELR/ALR lap/shoulder safety belts (ELR only for driver) and height adjustable front shoulder belts. Anti-lock brakes was optional on all models (except for RS).
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has determined crash test ratings of the 2G Eclipse:
1995 and 1996 "Driver's Choice Award" - MotorWeek
Third generation (3G, 2000–2005)
The Eclipse underwent a change into its third generation in 1999, closely applying the Mitsubishi SST design study which debuted at the 1998 North American International Auto Show. It was the first concept vehicle exhibited by Mitsubishi at an auto show in the U.S.
Two new powertrain options were available, a 147 hp (110 kW) 2.4 L 16-valve SOHC 4-cylinder 4G64 and a 205 hp (153 kW) 24v SOHC 3.0 L V6 (6G72). AWD was no longer an option. The suspension setup was adjusted to provide a softer and more compliant ride quality.
The third generation Eclipse shared its powertrain with the 8th generation Galant. In late 2001, power of the GT trim was lowered to 200 hp (149 kW) as a result of tightened emission standards forcing MMNA to adopt the California emissions standards for all variants of the car, rather than selling independent 'Fed Spec' and 'Cali Spec' versions.
In mid-2002, the GTS trim was introduced for the 2003 model year. This vehicle included an engine with a 10:1 compression ratio, revised camshaft profile and an improved Mitsubishi Variable Induction Management (MVIM) air intake system that gave the car an extra 10 hp (7.5 kW) and a slightly improved power curve. The 2003–2005 GTS coupe, GTS Spyder and GT Spyder shared the new engine while the GT coupe retained the 200 hp (149 kW) powertrain.
With the introduction of the 2003 GTS model, the Eclipse saw minor changes including a redesigned front bumper with slotted fog lights, as well as a recoloring of the tail lights. On the interior, the gauge face changed, and the door panels were also redesigned. Newly designed five-spoke chrome wheels were offered with the GT and GTS trims.
In 2004, Mitsubishi Motors imported the Eclipse Spyder to the Japanese Domestic Market as a special edition.
The Eclipse was available in 7 trim levels: RS, GS, GS Spyder, GT, GT Spyder, GTS, and GTS Spyder. All trim levels (besides RS and the Spyder) came with an automatic tilt and retracting sunroof. All models were FWD. The GTS trims were introduced for the 2003 model year. For the 2005 model year, the RS trim was discontinued and a special "Remix Edition" GS trim package was introduced, which included chrome wheels, identifying placards and the premium interior package from the GT and GTS models, which was not previously offered on the GS trim.
The third generation Eclipse utilized two distinct Mitsubishi engines: The SOHC 4G64 2.4 L 16-valve four-cylinder and SOHC 6G72 3.0 L 24-valve V6. Both engines use cast iron blocks with aluminum cylinder heads. The four-cylinder, found in the RS, GS and GS Spyder trims, used a 9:1 compression ratio and produced an output of 154 hp (115 kW) and 163 lb·ft (221 N·m) of torque throughout all years.
The 3.0 L V6, however, found in GT and GT Spyder models, produced 205 hp (153 kW) in Fed Spec between 2000-2001 and 200 hp (149 kW) in all GT models in Cali Spec, all years with a static compression ratio of 9:1. In 2003, the 3.0 L V6 was improved for the GTS and GT/GTS Spyder, using a revised camshaft profile, raised compression ratio of 10:1 and variable-length MVIM intake manifold. This engine produced 210 hp (157 kW).
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has determined crash test ratings of Eclipse of different model years:
2001 Mitsubishi Eclipse EV
The Mitsubishi Eclipse EV is a prototype electric vehicle with a lightweight electric motor and lithium-ion batteries in the chassis of a third generation Eclipse. It is powered by manganese lithium-ion batteries made by Japan Storage Battery, which have 65% reduced charging time over nickel-hydrogen batteries.
It participated in the 2001 Shikoku EV Rally, a 780 km (485 mi) circuit around the perimeter of Shikoku, Japan, where it drove in excess of 400 km (249 mi) on a single battery charge.
Fourth generation (4G, 2006–2012)
Another substantial styling revision was introduced, with the new model taking some of the profile from the second generation model but maintaining a front fascia consistent with Mitsubishi's current corporate styling features. Drivetrain features of the new model include a 263 hp (196 kW) 3.8 L MIVEC V6 for the GT trim, 2009 and newer models have 265 hp (198 kW). The GS has a 162 hp (121 kW) 2.4 L MIVEC four-cylinder, both derived from the Mitsubishi PS platform family, with which the Eclipse shares many mechanical components. Like the 2004 Galant and third generation Eclipse, the new Eclipse is FWD only, although a concept model has been produced by Mitsubishi and Ralliart with a MillenWorks designed hybrid-electric AWD platform, the 4G63 engine from the Lancer Evolution, and more aggressive body styling with imitation carbon fiber accents. The V6 produces 263 hp (196 kW) and 260 ft·lbf (353 N·m) of torque.
The fourth-generation Spyder (convertible) Eclipse was released for the 2007 model year at the North American International Auto Show.
For the 2010 model year in the U.S., its primary market, the Eclipse was available in five trim levels: GS, GS Sport Spyder, SE, GT, and GT Spyder. In Mexico, the GT Spyder is known as the Eclipse Convertible. In Canada, the GT trim is known as the GT-P.
The models and standard / optional equipment:
Options Include - Sun & Sound package with a power sunroof is paired with a 650-watt (max.) Rockford Fosgate audio system. Boasting nine speakers including a 10 in (250 mm) trunk-mounted subwoofer, a 6-CD in-dash changer, and steering wheel-mounted audio controls, the package also includes a center display with outside temperature and compass readings and an electrochromic rear-view mirror.
Options Include - GS Deluxe Leather Package: Leather front seating surfaces. Heated front seats. Heated side mirrors. Outside temperature indicator and compass in center dash display.
Options Include- Premium Sport Package with 18 in (460 mm) seven-spoke alloy wheels, leather front seating surfaces, a power sunroof, an eight-way-adjustable (six power) driver's seat, alloy pedals, heated front seats, heated door mirrors, automatic dimming rear-view mirror, air-conditioning and a 650-watt (max.) Rockford Fosgate audio system with nine speakers, including a 10-in (254 mm) trunk-mounted subwoofer, a 6-CD/MP3-compatible in-dash changer, steering wheel-mounted audio controls.
Options Include - GT Premium Sport Package: 18-inch Alloy wheels. Leather front seating surfaces. 6-way power driver's seat. Heated front seats. Heated side mirrors. Aluminum pedals. Automatic climate control. Wind Deflector
The Eclipse is equipped with dual bank catalytic converters on the manifolds of both the 4 and 6 cylinder engines with O2 sensors placed after each catalytic converter to monitor operation. Downstream of these is a third catalytic converter placed mid way in the exhaust to assist in preventing further emissions.
The Eclipse has an EGR system.
The Eclipse PCV system returns into the intake piping to prevent contaminants escaping.
The Mitsubishi Eclipse was given a minor facelift for the 2009 model year, the front fascia changed the fog lights and deleted the triangle housing the "three diamond" logo used to sit on in the grille; the rear fascia changed the "Eclipse" insignia from an indent to raised silver letters. An option to add a dual exhaust and projector H.I.D. headlamps also became available. The V6 engine now rated at 265 hp (198 kW) and 262 lb·ft (355 N·m) of torque in part due to the more open front fascia as well as a new stock dual exhaust system. It was unveiled at the 2008 Chicago Auto Show.
For 2011, the Mitsubishi Eclipse featured a "blackout" roof, similar to the 1990 model. Mitsubishi also lowered the suspension of Eclipse about half an inch to create a lower center of gravity. A rear backup camera and Bluetooth hands free calling to the Sun and sound package were included. In the GS trim, the car gets the same 18-inch wheels and blackout front end as the GT model called the GS Sport.
Final model year
For the 2012 model year, the Eclipse received three slight changes: brake override logic, a clear lip spoiler on the GT trim, and one new exterior color. According to a review and rating by Motor Trend, the fourth-generation Eclipse was described as "dated" - but its "exterior design still stands out among sporty coupes currently available." The 2012 model year Eclipse was now six years old and "is still trying to pass itself off as a sporty two-door." This was the final model year, albeit a short run because production ended in August 2011.
The last Eclipse to roll off the assembly line was built on 16 August 2011, painted Kalapana Black, its color was chosen from by members of Mitsubishi's Facebook community, who picked from a historical Eclipse color palette. This was the only Eclipse equipped with both the 3.8L/265 hp V-6 engine and the commemorative SE package, as well as special 18-inch Dark Argent alloy wheels and one of a kind graphics. It is also built with a sunroof, leather interior, 650W Rockford Fosgate 9-speaker audio system with Sirius XM, hands free Bluetooth phone interface, rear-view camera, and HID headlights. The car was auctioned off by Mecum Auctions in St. Charles, Illinois on 17 September 2012, for $35,000. Proceeds went to the Japanese Red Cross to aid victims of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.
Grand total Eclipse production was 906,876 units.
The Eclipse has been campaigned in various auto racing events.
Rally, endurance and road racing
The Eclipse, and its Chrysler-branded counterparts, have competed in Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) events.
In 1995, a GT2 class specification Eclipse GSX was entered into the annual 24 Hours of Daytona endurance race. It was placed on grid number 74, at the back in last place. It moved up to 24th place overall finish without any issues. It nearly set a new record as well, passing a total of 50 cars. In 1998, it entered the race again but was now in a lower specification class (GT3/GTS3) It finished in 24th place. In 1999, the Eclipse made its final appearance in the race, achieving a 39th place, after posting 455 laps. The name of the team was Spirit of Daytona and their sponsor was Daytona Mitsubishi. Craig Conway, Eric Van Cleef and Todd Flis were the drivers.
In 2004 and 2005, Greg Collier won the NASA Super Unlimited class national title in a Plymouth Laser RS Turbo. These wins were over purpose built Ferrari Challenge and Porsche Carrera Cup race cars.
In 2009 and 2010, an Eclipse Spyder GS-T driven by Matt Andrews and Andrew Brilliant won the Super Lap Battle Limited championship in Willow Springs, California.
In 2012, a heavily built and tuned Mitsubishi Eclipse piloted by Mark Rybnícek won the Czech Hill Climb championship. Other drivers such as Karel Stehlik and David Komarek have used Eclipses in hill climb competition as well. Some of engines produce as much as 650 hp (485 kW; 659 PS). They also have short transmission gears to accelerate into triple digit speeds.
Brent Rau has won three world drag racing championships using an Eclipse; IDRC, NDRA, and NHRA. Many other notable names have also claimed big wins piloting Eclipses for drag racing as well.
Jett Racing entered a 3rd generation Eclipse for drag racing competition. As of 2014, they hold the world record for the world's fastest four cylinder. It has 1,600 hp (1,193 kW; 1,622 PS) and is RWD. It is capable of over 2,000 bhp (1,491 kW; 2,028 PS). On 29 November 2018, they ran 6.2 seconds in the quarter-mile with 225 MPH for the top speed.
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