Dawning of a new era
HE ECLIPSE CROSS is Mitsubishi’s comeback car. Or more accurately, 4x4, because the irm now deines itself as an SUV-maker, Japan’s Jeep or Land Rover. And the Evoque is the inspiration for the Eclipse Cross, a similarly sized vehicle though at a far cheaper price. New design chief Tsunehiro Kunimoto led the creative team. His previous work includes the Nissan Juke, which won’t be a surprise if you’ve clocked the rear three-quarter view: it looks like an explosion in a set square factory. The design is far more distinctive than the Mitsubishi norm, and will shape the bigger Outlander Mk2 in 2020, followed by a baby SUV.
Under the skin is a revamped Outlander platform. Its 2.2-litre diesel engine is carried over but with a torque boost; we drove a new 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol, with a continuously variable transmission shuling power to all four wheels (front-drive cars get a six-speed manual). Turbocharged to generate 161bhp and 184lb ft from 1800rpm, acceleration is genteel; the CVT only just cracks the 10sec 062mph barrier. Now those three letters will strike fear into the hearts of many, but the stepless gearbox’s mooing is well suppressed, and there’s a decent manual override function. Shame throttle response isn’t suiciently snappy.
With its light, springy steering and tendency to roll, this is not a vehicle to ire into corners. Get your entry speed right, and it’ll feed back on grip levels, encouraging you to accelerate and adjust your line. That said, the Eclipse Cross is at its best as a family cruiser, gliding along Barcelona’s smooth motorway network, road noise dialled right down in the mix. Rear passengers have suicient head space despite that slanted rooline, and there’s plenty of legroom, though the boot is titchy. And Mitsubishi has really upped its game on interior quality, with some nice silver or gloss black trim, and a touchscreen to smoothly operate your mirrored Android or Apple phone. It doesn’t have the Outlander’s plug-in hybrid party trick – shelved on cost grounds – but in most other respects it feels like a signiicant step forward. PHIL MCNAMARA @CARPhilMc
New design chief brings some Juke magic to Mitsubishi