The Mitsubishi Eclipse was a coupe that was in production since 1989 for left hand drive traffic markets. According to Mitsubishi, the car was named after an 18th century English racehorse which won 26 races, [ 1 ] and has also been sold as the Eagle Talon and the Plymouth Laser captive imports through Mitsubishi Motors’ close relationship with the Chrysler Corporation. Their partnership was known as Diamond-Star Motors, or DSM, and the vehicle trio through the close of the second-generation line were sometimes referred to by the DSM moniker among enthusiast circles.
As of 2011, the Eclipse is officially available in North America, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, and China.
On April 25, 2011, it was announced that Eclipse production would end in August of 2011. At the end of August, the final Eclipse rolled off the assembly line, and is due to be auctioned off, the proceeds donated to charity. [ 2 ]
The Eclipse has undergone four distinct generations: the first two generations (1G and 2G) are closely related to the Eagle Talon and Plymouth Laser, and share parts, whereas the third generation (3G) is based on a new platform and most parts are incompatible with 1G and 2G Eclipses. The fourth generation (4G) Eclipse was made available in May 2005. [ 3 ]
1990–1994 (1G) Mitsubishi Eclipse, Eagle Talon, and Plymouth Laser
The first generation Mitsubishi Eclipse was sold as an entry to mid-level four-cylinder sports coupe. Four trim levels were available: the bottom three were front wheel drive and the very top was all wheel drive. The top FWD and the AWD model were equipped with turbocharged engines.
The car underwent minor changes throughout its production; 1992–1994 models (1Gb) have updated sheetmetal and are easily distinguishable from previous vehicles (1Ga). The most notable of these changes is that the 1Ga models have pop-up headlights. The Eclipse was revised into a new vehicle for 1995 (described below in the 2G section).
The Eclipse was available in four trim levels during its first-generation production run. AWD models were not available until halfway through the first model year.
- Eclipse: Base FWD model equipped with a 92 hpnaturally aspirated engine 1.8 L 8-valve SOHC 4G37engine
- Eclipse GS: Upgraded FWD model with slightly more equipment
- Eclipse GS DOHC: Upgraded FWD model equipped with a 135 hp (101 kW) naturally aspirated 2.0 L 16-valve DOHC 4G63A non-turbocharged variant of the 4G63T engine**
- Eclipse GST: Top FWD model equipped with a 180-195 hp* turbocharged 2.0 L 16-valve DOHC 4G63T engine
- Eclipse GSX: AWD model equipped with a 180-195 hp* turbocharged 2.0 L 16-valve DOHC 4G63T engine
* The 1990 manual transmission turbocharged GST was rated at 190 hp, whereas the 1990 GSX manual turbo was rated at 195 hp (145 kW). This was for the purpose of offsetting the additional weight of the AWD mechanism (aprox 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.
** 1990-1994 DSMs did not come with the 420A engine, which was not added until the second generation.
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.
The 4G37 and 4G63 engines are both I4 gasoline engines. The 4G63 is composed of an iron engine block and aluminum cylinder head and is equipped with 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 vs. 9.0 in the naturally aspirated version) and oil squirters under the pistons in order to better cope with the stress and extra heat caused by forced induction.
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 Eclipse Turbo was on Car and Driver magazine’s Ten Best list for 1989-1992.
1995–1999 (2G) Mitsubishi Eclipse
The second generation car maintained the market focus of the 1G car, but had a major update in styling and had different engines between trim levels. New to the line was a convertible model, the Spyder, introduced in 1996. The convertible was available in two trims: the GS and the GS-T. The former is powered by the non-turbo 4G64 engine, and the latter by the turbo 4G63. The GSX (all-wheel-drive) hardtop model was also powered by this engine. There was no convertible model powered by the Chrysler 420a.
The turbocharged engine option continued as the 4G63, but was modified for more power as compared to the previous generation (210 hp vs 195 hp). The non-turbo equipped car had two different engines depending on the market they were produced for. The US version engines were producing 140 hp, found only in the hardtop RS and GS trims, was a modified version of the Chrysler Neon engine, manufactured by Chrysler and delivered to and installed at the Diamond Star Motors facility. The Europe version engines were naturally aspirated 4G63 with 141 hp. From 96-99 the GS Spyder’s were mated with the 4g64(2.4L) naturally aspirated engine provided by Mitsubishi.
The Talon was discontinued in 1998 along with the rest of the Eagle line because lack of sales in earlier years, leaving only the Eclipse for sale during the 1999 model year.
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).
Second generations (1995–99) cars:
- Eclipse: Base FWD model equipped with a 140 hp 2.0 L 16-valve DOHC Chrysler 420A engine
- Eclipse RS: Equipment Upgraded FWD model equipped with a 140 hp 2.0 L 16-valve DOHC Chrysler 420A engine
- Eclipse GS: Equipment upgraded FWD model equipped with a 140 hp (100 kW) 2.0 L 16-valve DOHC Chrysler 420A engine
- Eclipse GS Spyder: Convertible FWD model equipped with a 141 hp (105 kW) 2.4 L 16-valve SOHC Mitsubishi 4G64 engine
- Eclipse GS-T: Hardtop FWD model equipped with a 210 hp (160 kW) turbocharged 2.0 L 16-valve DOHC Mitsubishi 4G63 engine
- Eclipse GS-T Spyder: Convertible FWD model equipped with a 210 hp (160 kW) turbocharged 2.0 L 16-valve DOHC Mitsubishi 4G63 engine
- Eclipse GSX: AWD model equipped with a 210 hp (160 kW) turbocharged 2.0 L 16-valve DOHC Mitsubishi 4G63 engine
The models had different trim accoutrements:
- Base — No tachometer, standard antenna, No rear defroster, no driving lights, 14″ steel wheels with covers or center caps, vinyl trimmed seats, rear drum brakes
- RS — Tachometer, 14″ alloy wheels, optional spoiler
- GS — Power antenna, driving lights, cruise control, body coloured door handles, 15″ alloy wheels (95-96 models), 16″ alloy wheels (97-99 models), lower body cladding, spoiler, rear windshield washer
- GS Spyder — Power antenna, driving lights, cruise control, body coloured door handles, 16″ alloy 5 spoke wheels, lower body cladding, spoiler, double tipped stainless steel exhaust
- GS-T — 16″ Alloy 5 spoke wheels, Grey painted panel around lower body paneling (1995–96), «low rise» spoiler (95-96), «high rise» spoiler (1997–99), double tipped stainless steel exhaust
- GS-T Spyder — 16″ Alloy 5 spoke wheels, double tipped stainless steel exhaust, «low rise» spoiler for all years.
- GSX — 17″ wheels after 1997, 1995–96 cars had 16″ alloys, Grey painted panel around lower body paneling (1995–96), double tipped stainless steel exhaust, «low rise» spoiler(95-96), larger spoiler (1997–99), vented rear rotors (early 95) with dual piston front calipers.
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 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.
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 wheels with the OZ Racing logo, though made by Enkei. It also included the leather interior package, accented exhaust exit, and hoop-style spoiler that were normally offered on some turbocharged models. The special edition package was only offered with the 420A engine.
A unique version of the 2G Eclipse sold in some European countries. It used a normally aspirated Mitsubishi 4G63 motor, similar to what was available in the 1G, unique sideview mirrors, and unique amber rear turn signals.
The Talon was available in four trim levels: Base, ESi, TSi and TSi AWD. The Eagle Talon saw its production end in 1998 when Chrysler shut down the Eagle sub-brand, although the Dodge Avenger and Chrysler Sebring continued to be sold in variations that used the 420A engine and many of the 2G Eclipse/Talon interior components.
- Talon Base: equivalent to Eclipse Base
- Talon ES: equivalent to Eclipse RS & GS
- Talon TSi: equivalent to Eclipse GS-T
- Talon TSi AWD: equivalent to Eclipse GSX
There were similar alterations to the styling of the Talon as there were for the Eclipse.
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 for the 1G 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 1G car. The 2G GSX also had a stronger carrier/differential when equipped with the limited slip option.
All motors are 4-cylinder gasoline engines. All have 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 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.
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. They also have larger crankshaft bearing journals to allow better lubrication.
The first-generation 4G63 head with its larger intake ports appears to offer better performance potential than the second-generation head due to its increased flow capacity in stock form. However, the second-generation head can be ported to increase the size of its intake ports similar to that of the first-generation head. Furthermore, the smaller ports provide greater velocity which aids in cylinder filling, and thus, as is the case with any head porting, port size is a compromise between air flow and air velocity.