Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross goes on sale in January 2018
It even outsells the more conventional family hatchback, previously our go-to choice for everyday drivability and usefulness.
It’s easy to see why. Sales of this kind of car – vehicles we once called 4x4s and expected to see off-road – are sky-rocketing because consumers seem to really like the security, utility and slightly snooty elevated seating of an SUV.
It seems every car manufacturer wants to get in on the act. Mitsubishi is bringing its new Eclipse Cross to the fray; to compete against rivals including the Seat Ateca, Toyota C-HR and Peugeot 3008, as well as the segment-leading Nissan Qashqai.
The Eclipse Cross is certainly an unusual entrant and not just because the Mitsubishi remains something of an enigma in the UK.
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One look at the Eclipse and it is clear Mitsubishi wants to differentiate itself from the competition.
This Eclipse Cross is the first in a new wave of SUVs inspired by Mitsubishi Group’s heritage outside of car-making in shipbuilding, defence and aerospace.
Designed to look strong, robust and utilitarian, the Eclipse Cross has been penned to look like the kind of car you can depend upon.
If you’re expecting yet another boxy-looking SUV though, you’ll be pleased to know the car looks more svelte in real-life.
It’s helped by coupé-like styling and an unusual rear split-screen which fulfils a dual purpose.
Not only does it provide a sporty fast-back look to the car, it also allows a good view out from the driver’s seat.
It’s really quite handsome and distinctive, sporty and exciting looking even. It certainly doesn’t resemble any other SUV on sale.
The Eclipse Cross will be sold in the UK with a choice of diesel or petrol engines with different transmission and drive options.
The first is the turbocharged 1.5-litre petrol engine which can be specified as a two-wheel drive manual or a four-wheel drive automatic.
A 4WD 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel will follow later next year. The 160bhp 1.5-litre 4WD CVT version gets you from 0 to 60mph in 9.5 seconds and on to a top speed of 124mph, with an average fuel economy of 40.3mpg and 159g/km emissions.
The 160bhp 1.5 2WD manual model offers slightly better fuel economy (42.8mpg) and emissions (151g/km) but is a little slower with a 0 to 60mph time of 9.9 seconds and 127mph top speed.
The 1.5-litre 4WD CVT is the first to market and while it’s very quiet, refined and comfortable on the motorway, it’s disappointing if you attempt to coax a more sporting performance out of it on country roads.
On demanding mountain roads, the car’s continuously variable transmission makes a noisy, booming sound in apparent protest if you try to coax anything like a sporty performance out of it.
Fun, it certainly isn’t. The frustrating CVT gives the impression of trying to keep up with the driver’s intentions thanks to an unusual fake step-system which feels as if it’s working its way up through the gears like an automatic gearbox. But it isn’t, and the delay between pedal and oomph gives it away.
The SUV is expected to set you back £22,-23,000
Inside the car the interior feels well-built and spacious. There’s quite a lot of plastic on show but it’s tastefully decorated with bright metal chrome and brushed aluminium and even carbon fibre and piano black trim style components in areas including the doors and steering wheel.
The effect overall is that the Eclipse Cross looks far more like a premium car than we’ve come to expect from any vehicle with a Mitsubishi badge.
The seats are very comfortable although, disappointedly, only the driver gets electric adjustment.
The rear bench can slide and recline which means you can increase the 341-litre boot space to 448 litres, but only if you compromise on legroom for rear-seat passengers.
Mitsubishi has also taken the quite brave, if logical move, of allowing Android and Apple phones to dock with the car and use their own satellite navigation software, rather than using a built-in system.
Mitsubishi have allowed smartphones to dock with the car and use their own GPS
For Apple iOS we used the CarPlay system which mirrors the iPhone it’s connected to. We found the system to be excellent.
Best of all you can talk to the car using the iPhone’s in-built Siri system which, if you speak clearly enough, has a good success rate in terms of understanding the request. You can also operate the system using a touchpad controller using a two-fingered swiping motion – although this takes some getting used to.
The car also comes with a raft of safety technology including lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, adaptive cruise control and bird’s-eye view parking camera sensors.
There is no doubt that the car represents a major improvement for Mitsubishi. Well-built, imposing and desirable the Eclipse Cross is a surprisingly comfortable and refined car, if a little disappointing in terms of sporting prowess.
So unless you’re a lover of CVT transmission – and according to Mitsubishi many people are – or putting in many motorway-based miles and looking for a diesel alternative, it would be best to wait to try the manual and automatic versions, which will arrive early next year.
Maybe those models will offer a more exciting drive in keeping with the car’s coupé styling. Then the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross may better fulfil its potential to be fun to drive as well.
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● Model: Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross
● On sale: January 2018
● Price: est. £22-£23,000
● Engine: Petrol – 1.5-litre, turbo
● Power: 0 to 60mph in 9.5 seconds, 124mph top speed
● Fuel economy: 42.8mpg
● CO2 emissions: 151-159g/km
● Rivals: Nissan Qashqai, Seat Ateca, Toyota C-HR
● Rating: 7/10
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