Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross VRX AWD on test: Crisp Cross
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Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross VRX AWD
- Stand-out rakish styling
- Just-right size of Mitsi SUVs
- Just enough SUV to keep it cute
- Lost some USPs of prev model
- Could do with a bit more speed
- Economy suffers as a result
It’s always been a bit different, the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross. While some SUVs could be labelled a little bland, the Eclipse Cross is known for its modern looks and quirky features: it’s a bit spacey, with sharp and angular styling, it had a dual sunroof, touchpad, head-up display and even a functional lower rear window on the tailgate that aided reverse parking. Nice little extras that make motoring fun.
In a market saturated by solid SUVs, from Hyundai’s Kona to Toyota’s C-HR, even Mitsubishi’s own ASX and Outlander, the Eclipse Cross has shown middle child symptoms of standing out and being just right – and that’s been a good thing.
For 2021, it has updates, but gone is the cool dual-window tailgate, which is a shame. Gone is the touchpad, which is less of a shame, in lieu of a more conventional 8in touchscreen with Apple/Android. The dual sunroof remains, as does the modern styling and sleek lights and little extras.
On the whole, it’s a rather more conventional package in the new Eclipse Cross, being a five-seat SUV with five-star crash rating and lots of safety tech. If Mitsubishi lost anything, it should have been the word Cross, because it’s a redundant title that is easily summed up a model-identifying Eclipse, given there isn’t a “non” Cross; apologies for digressing.
Four models cover the Eclipse range offering 2WD or AWD in XLS or VRX trims, starting from $35,990 in Mitsubishi’s signature “Special Offer” price. We drove the range-topping AWD VRX, with on-demand (press a button) S-AWC, Mitsubishi’s all-wheel drive system, at - you guessed it - a special offer price of $43,990. Which is more than four models of the larger Outlander, and just $2k off the like-for-like AWD VRX model. Interestingly, the top-spec ASX is the same price as the entry Eclipse.
The Eclipse VRX also includes leather seats and a 360 degree camera, which is all very modern and handy when parking, reversing or just sliding into tight spots while avoiding kerbing those 18-inch alloys.
All models run a 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine paired to an eight-speed CVT and paddle shifters (from an Evo X, if that helps boost credibility). The engine specs are decent, though nothing to set the road ablaze, with 112kW and 254Nm, somewhat blunted by its 1545kg. We tested 0-100km/h in 9.6 seconds, 0.6 faster than the Mitsubishi claim, while humming through its CVT gearbox with simulated eight steps – though this is significantly slower than the $42k Kona, which manages the 100k dash in 7.6 seconds.
The paddle shift is most helpful letting the car know it needs a few more revs and speed, when there’s the often need for just a bit more urgency – there’s also decent fuel economy with Mitsubishi claiming 7.3l/100km, though we saw high-8s.
It’s city equipped with a tightish 10.9m turning circle and rides about par for the class. A Head-Up Display is colour, offering valuable data to keep the eyes up and forward, particularly with the radar cruise control distance setting and a digital speedo.
The rear seats are a little sparse with a fold-down armrest/cup-holders, and a just a lone 12v socket to play with – and rear heated seats in the VRX. Though the seat belt buckles recede into the seats, which looks neat, but proves tricky and challenging with kids – and adults. And the split-fold hinge does intrude into bum space a little. The boot is, well, a decent boot. Nothing more, nothing less.
Of course where the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross excels is the looks and design, and with the rakish Mitsubishi family face, it’s a coupe-styled SUV that advances the style statement very effectively, its deep body crease running up at the rear to the taillight – up top is a small faux spoiler, framed nicely by those tall lights. Looks good, even in plain white.
The Eclipse Cross has been on sale for a few years now, and though it doesn’t have the sales penetration of its ASX and Outlander stablemates, it has managed to claw itself into 14th place year-to-date, behind Outlander (1st) and ASX (3rd). It’s a solid compact SUV that shows Mitsubishi hasn’t forgotten how to have a bit of styling fun.
MITSUBISHI ECLIPSE CROSS VRX AWD
PRICE: $35,990-($43,990 tested)
ENGINE: 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbo
GEARBOX: Eight-step CVT, AWD
0-100KM/H: 9.6sec (tested)
ECONOMY: 7.7l/100km (claim)