Mitsubishi Eclipse: Confident coupe-inspired Cross
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Mitsubishi New Zealand is introducing a medium-sized SUV, the Eclipse Cross, as its first brand-new model for seven years.
There will be four models in the line-up, with the two-wheel-drive models available in New Zealand showrooms in December.
The all-wheel-drive models will become available in April.
The XLS two-wheel-drive Eclipse models will sell for $41,690 plus on road costs, and the more up-market VRX models $45,590 plus on road costs.
The Eclipse is powered by a new 1.5 litre turbo engine which features a dual injection system that Mitsubishi says improves torque at low engine speeds.
A brief run behind the wheel late last week showed the new engine delivers plenty of power early in the range, and that the new eight-speed CVT gearbox operates smoothly and effectively.
Mitsubishi says the engine reacts to drivers' requests quickly by adopting a cylinder head integrated with the exhaust manifold, with dual variable value timing and a small turbocharger. The engine uses direct injection and intake port-injection to control fuel intake and achieve cleaner emissions.
While the front of the Eclipse reflects Mitsubishi's traditional styling, the sloping roofline gives the model a more contemporary appearance, and the rear has sharper angles than previous SUVs such as the Outlander and the smaller ASX models.
It is the first new model Mitsubishi has launched in this country since the first ASX was launched seven years ago.
Mitsubishi describes the styling of the Eclipse as "coupe-inspired", and it is a model that looks better in the metal rather than in pictures.
To help counter the lower rear roofline, the Eclipse has sliding rear seats, with seat backs that can be angled to ensure there is plenty of headroom for rear seat passengers.
All Eclipse models will come with an impressive line-up of standard features, including 18-inch alloy wheels, paddle PICTURES / SUPPLIED
shifters, halogen headlights with LED daylight running lights, privacy glass, lane departure warning and automatic high-beam headlights.
The VRX models add LED headlamps, a dual sunroof, leather seats, adaptive cruise control and a heads-up display unit that pops up in front of the driver.
The interior of the Eclipse is smart with a 7-inch fixed screen sitting near the top of the dashboard. The controls underneath the screen are of premium Lexus standard. The whole interior of the VRX pre-production model (the only Eclipse in the country at the moment) we drove was impressively up-market, with lots of soft touch material on display.
The central "touchpad commander" makes it easy to sweep along the functions on the screen, choosing one by simply pressing the pad. It appeared intuitive and easy to use without the driver being distracted.
One finger flick moves the cursor to swipe through the menus. A single push will select the button or function required, and the audio volume can be increased or turned down with a two-finger flick up or down. A two-finger swipe right or left will change the audio track or radio station.
Getting in and out of the Eclipse is easier than many similar-sized SUVs, because the doors wrap around the bottom sill. This means it is a relatively narrow step from the vehicle to the ground.
The Eclipse shares the same platform as the Outlander SUV, although Mitsubishi New Zealand believes the new model will increase its market share without adversely affecting sales of either the Outlander or the smaller ASX models.
The four-wheel-drive models will arrive in April, and will have an electronically controlled system that Mitsubishi says feeds the optimum amount of torque to the rear wheels as required by the driving conditions.
It will have three driving modes. Normal is for four-wheel-drive performance across most conditions. Snow is suited for snow and slippery roads. And a gravel mode will provide high traction.
The man in charge of developing the Eclipse, Mitsubishi programme director Dr Hiroshi Yamauchi, was in New Zealand for the launch.
He said the Eclipse Cross was aimed at "people with a strong belief in their own style who explore new paths in life".
They were active, confident and determined and "full of curiosity".
The new model arrives at a time when the brand is enjoying strong growth in this market.
The chief executive of Mitsubishi New Zealand, Warren Brown said his company was one of New Zealand's fastest-growing mainstream brands.
He said Mitsubishi had experienced a 26 per cent year-on-year growth in sales during the six months from April to September. This compared with an overall market growth of 7.7 per cent.
Mitsubishi had two models, the Triton utes and the Outlander, in the top 10 best-selling models in the country, and the Eclipse would add another sales pillar to the model line-up.