What's New for 2001
Mitsubishi's 2001 Eclipse Spyder is all-new inside and out and based on the recently redesigned Eclipse Coupe, embodying a youthful image and providing a sporty drive. But the turbocharged engine is no longer on the menu.
Since 1996, the Eclipse Spyder has delivered edgy, top-down styling and inspiring performance at bargain prices. With a triple-layer power top and designer bodywork, the Spyder was an instant hit - selling at the rate of 1,000 units a month. The second-generation Spyder receives enhanced four-cylinder engine performance, a refined V6, sophisticated technology and a new image.
Mitsubishi calls the new Eclipse's styling "geo-mechanical," with a swell in the hood that rolls across the upper fenders, a lateral accent line and ribbed contours in its doors and front fascia.
Inside, styling is one part futuristic and two parts sporty with a dash of luxury sprinkled in. With a twin-cockpit design, the interior is symmetrical and functional, with some components appearing to be melded into the dash while others protrude aggressively. Materials include soft-touch appointments with titanium-finish details that look rather cheap.
The Spyder is offered in two trim levels -- GS and GT. The base 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine found in the GS model now produces 147 horsepower. This six-horsepower gain over the 1999 model feels even more substantial because the power peak is 500 rpm lower in the rev range. The GT model comes equipped with a thoroughly responsive 3.0-liter V6 engine making 200 horsepower. The old Spyder's turbo engine has been dropped in favor of the more refined V6. Regardless of engine selection, a five-speed manual transmission is standard fare. For those desiring an automatic tranny, Mitsubishi offers a new four-speed Sportronic automanual transmission that allows drivers to change gears without using a clutch.
The 2001 Spyder also rides on a revised suspension, with large-diameter front struts, a strut tower brace and a multi-link rear suspension incorporating stronger tubular steel arms. A stiffer sub-frame and a longer wheelbase also debut. Safety improvements include front-seat force-limiter seatbelts and front seat-mounted side airbags that are optional on the GT model. Traction control is offered only on the GT with an automatic transmission, which leaves us wondering why it isn't available with the manual. And why can't buyers of the GS models get antilock brakes?
With all these improvements, the Spyder's value hasn't been lost. Standard equipment on every 2001 model includes power windows and door locks, an engine immobilizer and anti-theft system, microfiltered air conditioning, height-adjustable driver's seat, CD player, auto-off headlights, 16-inch wheels, cruise control, remote keyless entry, lumbar support, and dual accessory power outlets. Step up to the GT and receive the V6 engine, 17-inch wheels, improved brakes and wider tires.
Hardcore Eclipse fans will be upset that Mitsubishi has dropped the turbo this year, focusing instead on attracting middle-market buyers. There's certainly no denying the huge leap that Mitsubishi has taken with the 2001 Eclipse Spyder. From styling to drivetrain, the car is totally different from anything that's previously worn a "Spyder" badge.