Hills Gazette - - DRIVE WAY - Craig Duff Ver­dict:

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.