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Body of a sportscar, soul of a lawn tractor


As a cosmic joke, the automobile rental gods have bestowed upon me – a new Mitsubishi Eclipse. Yay.

I have a friend in LA who drives the convertible version. She loves it. But then, it’s LA. You’re supposed to be driving a flashy convertible if you’re a blonde. She fits right in on the LA freeways. But I’m not blonde, not in LA, and not into looks without substance. She’s a woman of substance, but as consultants, we all try to blend in with the natives wherever we work.

The car looks very nice. Low-slung, curvy, big Tonka-toy wheels, disc brakes all around. The fun stops there. Strap it on (it’s tiny inside, with bucket seats that really ARE buckets) and light the afterburners. The ride is good, as long as you’re airborne. When the wheels touch the ground, you feel every crack in the pavement, every pebble you bounce over. Shock absorbers are optional on this car.

The interior is all dark charcoal cloth, shiny silver plastic and blue LEDs, taking its visual cues from kids’ movies like “The Last Starfighter” or “Flight of the Navigator.” It really does look like a jet fighter inside. The speedometer goes to 160 mph, which is optimistic with a 4-cylinder. I’m sure it could hit it with the 6-cylinder, though. The 4 is well-geared to make the most use of its available 162 hp, and it pushes the car quickly, but it sounds like a cheap Toyota Echo being flogged. That’s why I say it has the soul of a lawn tractor – it sounds harsh and whiny, not muscular. The transmission is smooth, though, and doesn’t lag much when you goose it.

Sportscar purists insist on 6 cylinders, all-wheel drive, and a manual transmission, like you would find on the higher-end GS Sport and GT models. Alas, there weren’t enough of either wanna-bes OR purists who would buy this vehicle, because production ended five months ago.

I’m okay with that.

One Comment
  1. 2012-01-20T09:12:06-05:00 09:12

    When I needed a new (old) car the options in my price range were an Eclipse and a Nissan Versa. I went with the Nissan and have never regretted it. I’m glad you got to have fun in one with the rental, though. :)


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