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Eclipse draws glances at Detroit auto show

February 07, 2005|by Motor News Media Corporation

There is not as much impact on the aftermarket scene during the North American International Auto Show held in Detroit as there is with SEMA held in Las Vegas. While Detroit is the most influential show for car manufacturers, very little is shown for the aftermarket. There is one new model that could have tuners going crazy for good and bad.

The all-new 2006 Mitsubishi Eclipse is one wild-looking production car. That is right. This is what it will look like when it rolls off the assembly line in Normal, Ill. For those who want to make a dramatic statement, the Eclipse will be the coupe of choice. In an industry where compact sedans have ruled the past few years, the Eclipse, along with the Scion tC, could usher in a new era of the coupe.

And while everyone is trying to think up what rims will best show off this curvy frame, they will be perplexed over the odd-shaped stock stereo that does not allow for easy customization. Top-of-the-line models feature a 650-watt Rockford Fosgate system with an in-dash six-disc changer and rear subwoofer, but even that will not satisfy everyone.


For those who want under the hood numbers, the GT will feature a V-6 engine producing 265 horsepower. That is a lot of power for six cylinders, but even the GS model has 165 horses for those who just want the look. It will be interesting to see what performance and dress-up aftermarket parts come out for this generation of Eclipse.

GPS broadens reach to live traffic updates

Those lucky enough to buy a new Acura RL this fall will have the option of getting XM Satellite's latest offering, XM NavTraffic. The system delivers live traffic updates to the GPS navigation system allowing drivers to see a graphic representation of where they are related to tie-ups, accidents and other traffic nightmares.

Pioneer will be adding the NavTraffic feature to their next generation AVIC unit. The AVIC-N2 with the XM feature will retail for close to $2,500. No small price for sure, but the system also plays CDs, XM Satellite Radio, DVDs and available rear-view camera for added safety when backing up. Performance nuts will appreciate the vehicle dynamics mode with electronic gauges that display lateral G-Force, turn rate, voltage and more.

For those who do not want to wait, the AVIC-N1 is still available with GPS - just without NavTraffic. So they can still get the gorgeous 6.5 inch LCD screen and all the other goodies while being stuck in gridlock.

Oddity or the future of tires?

Michelin unveiled its revolutionary new "Tweel" at the Detroit Auto Show as well and it stunned many. While the thought of having an airless tire has been talked about, it was not until Michelin released pictures of an Audi A4 driving on these spoked tire/wheel hybrids that their impact on the look of cars became apparent.

The point of an airless tire is to avoid punctures and to handle rough terrain. But for those looking at performance, the Tweel can be tuned to maximize both vertical and lateral stiffness, to improve handling and cornering without giving up any ride comfort. For now the car applications of the Tweel are still in the concept stage but smaller versions are being made for Segway vehicles, including the iBOT, a mechanized wheelchair that can climb stairs.

iPod comes to a car near you

BMW may have been the first car company to add a built-in adapter for the iPod digital music player but it sure is not the only one. At the annual MacWorld Expo in San Francisco in January, Apple announced that it has linked deals with a number of car manufacturers for similar integrations systems. Mercedes-Benz is already advertising the unit and others like Nissan, Volvo, Alfa Romeo and Ferrari will have the capability this year. Before long every automaker will be involved.

Until then, a number of aftermarket companies have iPod adapters. Monster Cable is the biggest name in the field and plans to bring its iCruze iPod adapter to market in the first quarter of 2005. The $250 MSRP is equivalent to others offering similar products but attaching the Monster name to iCruze, along with the capability of controlling the playlist through the stock or aftermarket unit, is a huge plus.

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