Eclipse Cross lights up Mitsubishi's SUV range
Known for its heavy-duty 4x4 hardware, Mitsubishi's Eclipse Cross heralds a bold new era for the brand. Motoring editor Andy Russell finds out if it is as good as it looks.
Mention Mitsubishi to anyone interested in motoring and they’ll almost certainly think of Shogun 4x4 SUV and L200 pick-up, long-serving leaders and heavy-duty hardware in their respective fields.
But, for all its experience, it has not made much impact in the trendy, fast-growing mid-size SUV and crossover sector but hopes that will change with its new Eclipse Cross, first of a new generation of cars for the Japanese brand.
Looks and image
It’s actually more of a new dawn for Mitsubishi than an eclipse, heralding a fresh design direction for the brand, emphasised by the bold, edgier SUV coupe-like exterior.
It stand out in an increasingly-crowded sector with an imposing face having serious road presence and, by Mitsubishi standards, a radical rear end but that full-width rear light bar, which not only splits the rear screen but also opinion, makes it a bit of a Marmite car.
Under the bonnet
It’s petrol to the fore with the Eclipse Cross in the form of a new 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine, although there will be an enhanced 2.2-litre turbo diesel.
Developing a potent 163hp and, more importantly for everyday driving, a healthy 250Nm of torque between 1,800 and 4,500rpm, the petrol engine is available with six-speed manual and CVT automatic gearboxes, the latter also offered with four-wheel drive.
Despite the automatic being a continuously-variable transmission, it has an eight-speed sport mode, controlled via steering wheel paddle shifters, which makes acceleration more sprightly and avoids that typical CVT engine roar when you put your foot down.
Fuel economy was a little disappointing at 35 to 37mpg overall in the real world but eco mode helps in urban driving.
How it drives
The low-speed ride is quite irritable on pockmarked roads, and there’s some bump-thump from the suspension on particularly rough surfaces, a shame given it will probably spend much time in urban driving. Travelling faster, it’s more composed and supple, cruising comfortably, but there’s noticeable tyre noise.
If you’re after an SUV dynamic, rather than dull, to drive the Eclipse Cross fits the bill. It’s agile through corners with the intelligent front-biased four-wheel drive, with auto, snow and gravel modes, shifting traction when needed and, while the steering lacks feel, it’s sharp enough to give sense of fun.
Space and comfort
Rear seats split 60/40 and slide 200mm to tailor legroom and boot space to meet your needs, just as well as the boot is quite small at a supermini-like 341 litres with them right back, but it creates acres of legroom for adults, rising to a useful 448 litres with them slid forward, but then legroom is really only suitable for children.
The sloping tailgate eats into load volume but there’s stowage beneath the boot floor to hide a small bag or store knick-knacks.
At the wheel
The cockpit-like driving position has big clear instruments, a high-level infotainment screen and a logical layout.
Gloss back trim looks classy, unlike the silver plastic embellishments, and orange stitching shows attention to detail. Plastics are soft at the main contact points, the cabin feels well screwed together and storage space is plentiful.
Unfortunately, only the top half of that split back screen is cleared by the wiper which hinders rear visibility in wet, mucky conditions but big door mirrors and the test car’s reversing camera helps.
The Eclipse Cross gives Mitsubishi a modern, mid-size SUV that will appeal to a younger market. It looks good, is pleasant to drive, family-friendly and well equipped and, for most people, that ticks the right boxes.
SPEC AND TECH
Price: Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross 4 Automatic 4WD, £28,165 (range from £21,290)
Engine: 1,499cc, 163hp, four-cylinder turbo petrol with CVT automatic gearbox
Performance: 0-62mph 9.8 seconds; top speed 124mph
MPG: 40.4 combined
CO2 emissions: 159g/km
Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 32pc
Insurance group: 20 (out of 50)
Warranty: Five years or 62,500 miles
Will it fit in the garage? L 4,405mm; W (excluding door mirrors) 1,805mm; H 1,685mm