Mitsubishi Eclipse all-wheel-drive: Crossover with coupe styling
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A visit to a Mitsubishi showroom or a scroll through the brand website puts the spotlight on the rapidly changing preferences of Kiwi vehicle buyers.
The brand that once sold Lancers, Galants and the sequence of V3000, Diamante and 380 large car lines now has the Mirage supermini as its last remaining traditional car in 2018. The rest of the Mitsubishi line-up is SUVs and light commercials.
Mitsubishi’s SUV range has been in expansion mode with the new Eclipse Cross being the latest arrival. First up is a pair of front-wheel-drive models launched in late 2017. And just in the last few weeks, an all-wheel-drive duo has arrived.
Eclipse Cross is similar in size to the ASX but has coupe-like styling, a higher grade of specification and introduces a new 1.5-litre direct injection and turbocharged MIVEC petrol engine.
Power output matches the 2.0-litre naturally aspirated unit while providing a significant boost in torque that betters the numbers delivered by 2.4-litre Outlanders.
The 1499cc turbo engine develops 112kW at 5500rpm, and peak torque of 254Nm is accessible from 2000-3500rpm. The flexibility is assisted by a smooth, continuously variable transmission that has an eight-step sequential shift mode with steering-wheel paddles.
Until now, the 2.3-litre MIVEC diesel has been the clear performance choice for ASX and Outlander buyers.
The new turbo four-cylinder bridges much of the performance gap between the older, naturally aspirated engines and the diesel by offering a muscular torque curve and punchy response across a wide rev range.
Eager overtaking response is accompanied by a long-legged and relaxed style on the highway with top gear requiring only 1800rpm at 100km/h with shifts to 2300rpm in seventh and 3000rpm in sixth.
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Flexibility is accompanied by modern fuel efficiency with an overall road test average of 7.8 litres per 100km and a highway run achieving 7L/100km. Those numbers sit comfortably with Mitsubishi’s combined cycle claim of 7.3L/100km and a large 63-litre fuel tank capacity gives an extended range.
The Eclipse Cross carries its pace on the highway with a confident stance on 18-inch alloys shod with Toyo Proxes R44 tyres in a generous 225/55 R18 sizing.
It has a firm ride and body control, which can be a little abrupt on uneven surfaces, while light steering and a compact turning circle make it easy for city driving.
Alongside its modern powertrain, the Eclipse Cross brings an element of coupe styling to the crossover segment to differentiate it from the more practical ASX and Outlander.
The frontal design is Mitsubishi’s chrome-adorned Dynamic Shield theme while the glasshouse and fast rear screen rake creates a coupe-like silhouette.
A moderate high-ride stance with 175mm ground clearance provides visibility benefits and easier access to the cabin and the slightly raised seat cushion height.
There’s a bold look to the LED lighting signature along with prominent wheel arches, a rear spoiler, black slimline roof rails and privacy glass.
Measuring up at 4405mm in overall length, the Eclipse Cross is larger than the Holden Trax, Mazda CX-3, Toyota C-HR and Peugeot 2008 while a Kia Sportage is slightly bigger.
Among the ranks of compact SUV contenders, the Peugeot 3008 is similar in measurements while other alternatives number the Hyundai Kona, Subaru XV, Nissan Qashqai, Honda HR-V and Skoda Karoq.
Cabin space is similar to a small-medium segment hatchback and it’s a moderately tight-fitting interior. Rear seat headroom in the VRX grade is compromised by the dual-panel sunroof installation.
Load space measures up at a reasonably tight 374 litres, which increases to 653 litres when the split rear seat is folded and slid forward.
There’s a security blind and, if there’s perhaps one missing ingredient, it’s a powered tailgate — which might be considered as required content on a top-grade model in the mid-$40K range.
Mitsubishi structures the Eclipse Cross line-up with XLS and VRX grade choices with all-wheel-drive models carrying a $2000 premium. The front-drive VRX is priced at $45,490 and Mitsubishi loads it with an appealing level of standard content.
Content specific to the VRX includes leather seat trim with copper stitch highlights, the dual-panel sunroof, an excellent multi-view camera system, head-up display, dual-zone climate control, front and rear parking sensors and heated front seats with power driver’s seat adjustment.
Additions to the safety content for the VRX include Adaptive Cruise Control, Blind Spot Warning with Rear Cross Traffic Alert and LED headlights with auto levelling.
These features build on the already appealing XLS contents, which include 18-inch alloy wheels, privacy glass, keyless entry and engine start, rain-sensor wipers and power-fold mirrors.
XLS models have Forward Collision Mitigation and Lane Departure Warning. Seven airbags are standard along with Hill Start Assist, an electric park brake with Auto Hold and a 5-star ANCAP safety rating.
Both grades have a dashtop 7-inch Smart Display Audio with a Lexus-style touchpad .
It’s looking through the detail of the specification that reveals one of the challenges in evaluating the Eclipse Cross — the pricing gap between the widely advertised and competitive $34,990 special price for the base model XLS version and the VRX at $45,490.
There’s extra content in the VRX package but perhaps not enough to make the $10,500 price difference a balanced equation.
The Eclipse Cross is a stylish new rung on the Mitsubishi SUV/crossover ladder. The focus is a little more on style than the practical family configurations of the ASX or Outlander.
But, for buyers who want the attributes of a small-medium hatchback with the benefits of a raised seating position and Mitsubishi’s most modern turbo powertrain, the Eclipse Cross neatly fits the bill.