PARTIAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUV
THE most popular vehicle in the compact SUV class is about to be overshadowed.
Mitsubishi’s ASX is facing a serious threat from a member of its own family in the form of the Eclipse Cross.
The newcomer has sharper looks, a vastly better engine and transmission pairing, and a $31,990 drive-away starting price that is $6000 dearer than the cheapest ASX. However, the Eclipse Cross is loaded. Standard gear in the base LS version includes autonomous emergency braking, lane-departure warning, keyless start, 18inch alloy wheels and seven-inch touchscreen with Android/Apple smartphone mirroring and digital radio.
Step up to the $38,490 drive-away Exceed and there’s a head-up display, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, around-view camera, leather trim, LED headlamps, panoramic sunroof, powered and heated front seats and dual-zone aircon. All-wheel drive on the Exceed adds $2500.
The only area the ASX wins in is cargo capacity at 393L against 341L, despite being 40mm shorter.
The new SUV will compete against the style-driven Hyundai Kona and Toyota CHR as well as the more conventionally styled Nissan Qashqai and Mazda CX-3.
All versions are fitted with a new 1.5litre turbo engine matched to a continuously variable transmission. It is a huge improvement over the ASX’s combination and makes the Eclipse Cross one of the more powerful vehicles in this segment.
That translates into decent acceleration around town or when overtaking.
Lack of engine braking, a trait of CVTequipped vehicles, means the cruise control on the base LS is prone to creeping over the set speed on long descents. That wasn’t evident in the Exceed version fitted with adaptive cruise control.
Leave the CVT to its own devices in regular driving and it’s possible to come close to the claimed 7.3L/100km; we logged 8.0L after almost 500km on highways and twisty, hilly roads.
The suspension copes with speed humps without jostling and body lean in the corners is good for a compact SUV. Noise suppression is good until you hit coarse chip surfaces at speed and tyre roar intrudes.
That cabin is the best looking in the Mitsubishi range; the attention to detail and styling flair can’t be found in its siblings.
Storage is also good, and the sliding and reclining rear seats borrowed from the mid-sized Outlander SUV makes back-row riding a relaxing proposition.
The Eclipse Cross shines a light on future Mitsubishis by fusing a more shapely look on to the company’s reputation for reliability. With the new styling and drivetrain, it can play with the cool kids in this class.