Mitsubishi calls the new Eclipse's styling "geo-mechanical," and what that means is the car has an unbroken roof arch, a swell in the hood that rolls across the upper fenders, a crease that runs along the car's sides and ribbed contours in its doors and front fascia. In layman's terms, geo-mechanical is a hard-edged, industrial look.
With a twin-cockpit design, the interior is symmetrical and functional, with some components appearing melded into the dash while others, like the fuel and temperature gauge, protrude aggressively. Materials include soft-touch appointments with crude titanium-finish details, but on the lesser trim levels, they look a bit low-grade.
The two-plus-two Eclipse is now offered in three trim levels-RS, GS and GT. The base four-cylinder engine found in the RS and GS models has grown from 2.0 liters to 2.4 liters and gone from 140 horsepower to 155 horsepower. This 15-horsepower gain feels even more substantial because the power peak is 500 rpm lower in the rev range. The high-end GT model comes equipped with a 3.0-liter V6 engine making 205 horsepower that offers split-second responsiveness and high-rpm refinement. The turbo engine has been dropped in favor of the more refined V6. Regardless of which engine is selected, a five-speed manual transmission is standard on the Eclipse. For those who desire an automatic tranny, Mitsubishi offers a four-speed automatic with "learned control" that tailors its shifting characteristics to an individual driver's style, or a new Sportronic automanual transmission that allows drivers to change their own gears without using a clutch.
The 2000 Eclipse also incorporates a new suspension system under its sheetmetal, using large-diameter MacPherson front struts for straight-line stability and a multi-link rear suspension with stronger tubular steel arms. A more rigid sub-frame and a longer wheelbase also debut. Structurally, the Eclipse is now 40 percent stronger in terms of bending rigidity, and 26 percent better at resisting twist. Traction control is offered only on Eclipse GT with an automatic transmission, which leaves us wondering why it isn't available with the manual. And why can't buyers of the RS and GS models get antilock brakes.
Mitsubishi claims that with all these improvements, the value of Eclipse hasn't been lost. Standard equipment on every 2000 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 with three-minute time delay, and alloy wheels. The mid-level GS also gets standard 16-inch wheels, cruise control, power sunroof, remote keyless entry, fog lamps, lumbar support and a split-folding rear seat. Step up to the GT and consumers will receive the larger engine, 17-inch wheels, improved brakes, upgraded seat fabric and wider tires. The power sunroof is optional on the GT even though it comes standard on the GS. Also optional on the GT is an audio package and a premium package.