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Old 12-29-2009, 02:55 PM   #1
redsport
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Default Went from GSX to WRX

I replaced my 1995 Eclipse GSX with a 2002 WRX for a DD about two weeks ago. I thought I'd share some impressions of the differences between the cars. I had owned this Eclipse for about 2 years and a 98 GSX for about a year before that one. I own and have owned a few more true sports cars than the Impreza, but I wonít be comparing the WRX to those here. My wife has had an OBS for several years, so I had a good idea of what I was getting into before picking up the WRX.

What initially attracted me to DSMs were the looks and the AWD. In my opinion, the 2g Eclipse/Talon is one of the nicest looking cars that Japan has ever made, whether it was Mitsubishi or Chrysler who did the styling, it doesn't really matter to me. Being a DD in Colorado, I also like to have AWD in case I need to drive through our occasional snow storms. FWD works, but AWD makes it actually fun (as you guys know). Initially, I didnít care if the car I was looking for was turbocharged or not. I wasnít looking for power. Having come from a 92 Integra GS-R, I was used to beating the snot out of an engine to get it to move. After having driven the Eclipse for a while though, I really came to appreciate the torque of a turbocharged engine (if not the fuel economy).



In general, DSMs are not well built for long term use. They were fairly complicated and seemed to be made from a lot of parts relative to other cars. They rattle from the sunroof, rear hatch, dashboard, and various other places. The suspension is all double wishbone, which means wheel location control is pretty good and the ride is impressively subtle for the kind of handling that the car is capable of, but it also means there are alot of bushings to go bad, and they do, and you can hear it going over bumps in the road. There's always something electronic that isn't working. The engines in these cars are the same basic unit used up until the Evo 9. Iron block and Al heads make this a very robust unit. Tuners squeeze out amazing amounts of power from the engine. Stock it comes with a Garret T25 turbo that was rated at 200bhp and 215ft-lb. Like the Impreza, the GSX uses a 50/50 F/R torque split LSD transfer case and has an LSD rear end. It weighs a little more than the impreza but the weight distribution is about the same.

Exterior Ė This is subjective, of course. To me, the Eclipse is just so well proportioned and sleek (unless youíre looking at the rear end). Itís what all sports coupes of the 90s should have looked like. Great proportions and great lines. It sits low and wide and looks fast just sitting still That rear end is where the stylists dropped the ball, itís just an abrupt ending to an otherwise great story. It served the aerodynamics well, though; it had a Cd of 0.29. The WRX (mineís a bug-eye wagon) is cool looking, but not what Iíd consider pretty. The thing I miss is the low stance.





Interior Ė The interior of the Eclipse is styled much more simply than the Impreza. Thereís a couple of big sweeping curves of plastic that make up the dashboard. It's very similar to the 2nd gen Toyota MR2 dashboard. Thereís a boost gauge and an oil pressure gauge that the Impreza doesnít have. In general I like the style and contours of the Imprezaís dashboard more than the swoopy curves of the Eclipse. The Eclipse shifter is up relatively high near the steering wheel, easy to reach and can be shifted without hitting the arm rest. It takes a little getting used to the wrist shifting that you have to do with the WRX. You basically sit on the floor in the Eclipse and the roof is within a couple of inches my head, I like the feeling. The Impreza feels like and SUV in comparison, you sit high up, even in the lowest position. Thereís what seems like a foot of headroom. The Imprezaís seats are far superior to the power leather buckets in the Eclipse. The Eclipse seats have less bolstering and support, although they do have more adjust-ability with bottom cushion, bolster, and lumbar adjustability. The back seats in the Eclipse are a joke. Thereís literally no leg room. The rear seats do fold down though, making for a space large enough to carry my bike (with the wheels removed from the frame). The Imprezaís a Cadillac in comparison space-wise. And those stupid horn buttons at 10 and 2 instead of using the center fo the sterring wheel is really frustrating.





Drive Train Ė The Eclipseís shifter is notchy and the throws are long. The Imprezaís shifts are much shorter and more direct. The Eclipse drive train whines noticeably during deceleration. The clutch travel in the Eclipse is about double that of the Impreza and itís softer too. The Impreza feels more connected to the driver and is more rewarding to operate. The Impreza feels more robust in general, although Iím still getting used to the resistance through the drive train, the Eclipse rolls backwards on hill much more easily than the Impreza. During driving on slippery roads, the LSD in the Eclipse locks up more easily than the Impreza, oversteer is easier to induce in the Eclipse.

Steering-The Eclipse has a quicker rack, which I like, the Impreza has a lot more steering feel, which I like more.

Brakes - Both are excellent. The ABS in the Impreza is a little less intrusive and subtle.

Engine/acceleration Ė The T25 on the Eclipse is a little turbo that spools up fast. It provides a very entertaining push in the back at midrange engine speeds. Unfortunately, the little turbo is out of breath by about 5500 RPM. After that, thereís not much thrust left. The engine revs very freely and even with the anemic top end, itís fun to rev. Itís also very smooth, having the balance shafts and all. The Impreza is much different. The revs build noticeably more slowly and the torque delivery is much more linear than the Eclipse. At first, the Eclipse feels like itís faster, and in normal driving, it probably is, but once the revs build, the Impreza has much more thrust and itís clear why itís about a second faster to sixty. The Impreza engine isnít ever smooth, but it does make a cool growl and you can feel the engine through the steering and chassis.



Chassis and suspension ĖThe Eclipse has a very refined ride, relatively. It feels soft driving down the road compared to the Impreza. Road imperfections are soaked up more easily. Thereís a lot of noise as youíre doing it though. Even with the softer ride, the cornering is very flat. The car understeers at turn in if you cook it, but once you get it set, itís pretty neutral. The Impreza feels much stiffer in both suspension tuning and chassis rigidity. In cornering, you can really feel the difference in the CG. The Impreza resists turn-in noticeably more and half way through the turn, just before and during application of power, the rear end of the Eclipse stays better planted. This surprised me considering all the praise that the Impreza gets for itís handling out of the box. This is kind of the opposite of what Iíve noticed on slippery roads, strangely. This is why I attribute the dry behavior to the CG and the slippery behavior to the LSD.

Like most cars, there are tradeoffs. Overall though, despite some of my preferences of some of the Eclipseís aspects, Iím really much happier with the Impreza. Itís much more solid, fells more confident in all weather conditions, and I know it will last much longer. When I went from the Integra to the Eclipse, it felt like I was putting an extra layer of isolation between myself and the road, now with the Impeza, it feels like that layer have been removed again.
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Old 12-29-2009, 08:53 PM   #2
nairbmik
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Nice write up! I think the Eclipse and the WRX are two different beasts, but both are great in their own way. WRX offers lots of practicality with it being a 4 door sedan and its great crash test ratings, while the Eclipse is mainly geared more towards the younger crowd, more interested in looks and speed.
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Old 12-29-2009, 09:16 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by nairbmik View Post
Nice write up! I think the Eclipse and the WRX are two different beasts, but both are great in their own way. WRX offers lots of practicality with it being a 4 door sedan and its great crash test ratings, while the Eclipse is mainly geared more towards the younger crowd, more interested in looks and speed.

Kids now are into Eclipses because they're cheap and easy to modify. When they were new though they weren't geared towards kids at all. New they cost almost $27k in 1999, more than WRXs do today. They were based on the world rally racing Galant (before they were using the Lancer) but with a body that would better compete with the Celicas, Probes, Preludes and Integras that were selling so well at the time. So they're based on a sedan set up for rallying, like the WRX.

Last edited by redsport; 12-30-2009 at 03:12 PM.
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Old 01-24-2010, 10:52 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nairbmik View Post
Nice write up! I think the Eclipse and the WRX are two different beasts, but both are great in their own way. WRX offers lots of practicality with it being a 4 door sedan and its great crash test ratings, while the Eclipse is mainly geared more towards the younger crowd, more interested in looks and speed.
But as we all know, with the younger crowd comes bowls of rice. I do fully believe that the younger crowd has ruined the Eclipse's name. And yes, I'm part of the younger crowd so no, I'm not being biased.
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Old 01-24-2010, 12:15 PM   #5
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But as we all know, with the younger crowd comes bowls of rice. I do fully believe that the younger crowd has ruined the Eclipse's name. And yes, I'm part of the younger crowd so no, I'm not being biased.
I fully agree. I think the Eclipse died with the 3rd gen model, it lost all sense of a sporty car, along with oodles of kids clamoring for one after watching the fast and the furious movies
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Old 01-24-2010, 03:10 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nairbmik View Post
I fully agree. I think the Eclipse died with the 3rd gen model, it lost all sense of a sporty car, along with oodles of kids clamoring for one after watching the fast and the furious movies
I agree. The 3G eclipse lost its performance sporty appeal when it dropped the turbo-4 upgrade to the V6 engine upgrade and more "GT styling". Not too long after the 3G came out, the WRX filled that void.

Mitsu tried to regain that appeal back again with having the 3G appear in 2F2F and restyling the 4G resembling the 2G model. Unfortunately, that didn't work and now with the Lancer lineup, I feel the Eclipse days are numbered.
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Old 01-26-2010, 12:35 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by subyski View Post
I agree. The 3G eclipse lost its performance sporty appeal when it dropped the turbo-4 upgrade to the V6 engine upgrade and more "GT styling". Not too long after the 3G came out, the WRX filled that void.

Mitsu tried to regain that appeal back again with having the 3G appear in 2F2F and restyling the 4G resembling the 2G model. Unfortunately, that didn't work and now with the Lancer lineup, I feel the Eclipse days are numbered.
Manufacturers always tend to make their cars "grow up" with successive generations. That's why many people prefer earlier cars of many model lines. It happens to everything from sports cars to family sedans. Think about how small and simple Accords used to be. It's even happened to the Impreza.

Last edited by redsport; 01-26-2010 at 02:16 PM.
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Old 01-29-2010, 08:14 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by redsport View Post
The Impreza engine isnít ever smooth
i personally think they are exceptionally smooth, and i've been through a few of old cars and been in and driven alot of new cars.

very good write up though!
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Old 01-30-2010, 09:45 AM   #9
redsport
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i personally think they are exceptionally smooth, and i've been through a few of old cars and been in and driven alot of new cars.
Interesting. Both of my Imprezas have a slightly lumpy idle and give a vibration and roughness when getting up through the revs. Compared to other 4-cylinder engines that I've owned/driven, the boxer 4 is the most "busy". It's not bad and it doesn't feel like it needs motor mounts or anything. I like it, these cars are all about personality and this adds to it. Compared to the smooth character of the balance shaft engine of the Eclipse, the WRX really makes itself known.

However, I got a chance to ride in a friend's 350Z recently. Lot's of torque and more engine noise than I expected (stock). It has the WRX beat in engine coarseness.

Last edited by redsport; 01-30-2010 at 10:15 AM.
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Old 01-30-2010, 09:56 AM   #10
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Nice to see an unbiased comparison.
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Old 10-21-2010, 09:53 AM   #11
redsport
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Quick follow-up. I finally got tired enough of the incessant understeer that I installed a set of Hotchkis 1" sway bars. The transformation in the WRX's handling is fantastic.

It used to feel like the car took a beat before turning the wheel quickly resulted in a change in direction. The hesitation and wobble in the front end when the wheel is first flicked to the side is significantly reduced. I can drive straight, turn the wheel just an inch or so, and have almost immediate reaction with very little leaning of the body. The thicker front bar noticeably improves steering response and controls roll of the front end.

At the rear, set to the middle position, the car rotates so much more easily. The way the rear end follows the front of the car is simply night and day. The cornering grip is very noticeably improved now that the front and rear tires are sharing the loads in a corner. Turns that I used to have to slow down for considerably because they would send the front tires screaming are now a no-brake operation.

The body roll in corners is also noticeably less. Body control is so much better.

It's hard to imagine the only thing I changed were the bars. Everything else is stock.
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Old 10-21-2010, 12:35 PM   #12
nairbmik
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Sway bars should be the first thing changed on every car. For that price you get a drastic difference.
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Old 10-21-2010, 12:45 PM   #13
redsport
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Sway bars should be the first thing changed on every car. For that price you get a drastic difference.
I've changed the sway bars on my Boxster, Rx-7 and the red Eclipse, none of them made this kind of a difference. However, none of them under-steered like the WRX does stock.
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