MITSUBISHI ECLIPSE CROSS
Worthy, but priced to make sure it doesn’t block out the ASX
Way better than an ASX. Actually, add Outlander
NO ONE ever said mediocrity had to be an impediment to prosperity. Well, at least no one at Mitsubishi ever said it. There’s not a standout performer in Mitsu’s now-eightstrong model range, yet the company finished 2017 in fifth position on the sales chart, much to the chagrin of sixth-placed Ford.
All of which bodes well for Mitsu’s latest addition to its SUV line-up. The Eclipse Cross squeezes between the ASX and Outlander; a pricier, more designled alternative to the former; more compact and affordable than the latter. It’s no gifted athlete, but it does get enough of the fundamentals right and has sufficient showroom sheen to elevate it above mediocrity.
The line-up is contained to just three variants sharing the new 1.5-litre turbo four and CVT with eight ratio steps.
The Eclipse Cross lands early scoring shots for design, packaging and presentation. The coupe-esque profile and slightly sloping roofline doesn’t unduly compromise rear headroom, while the rear bench slides fore and aft by 200mm and offers useful backrest rake adjustment. Up front, the seats are supportive, storage is well considered, and the instruments clean and attractive.
More credits quickly amass when sampling the engine for the first time in urban driving. This is Mitsu’s debut installation of the new 1.5 turbo, and it’s a decent little unit. The tune sensibly favours torque, rather than power, so it boosts up early, delivers a mostly satisfying swell in the mid-range, and remains unobtrusive until wrung past 5500rpm. The target market won’t go there, and neither did we, much, as power trails off quickly in the last 500rpm before the 6000rpm redline.
As for the CVT, it’s less objectionable than most of the other hamster-wheels that populate this class. It doesn’t banish the slippy, droning syndrome in the upper mid-range, but it does at least allow you to take instant control via a pair of column-mounted paddles, and the eight ‘ratio’ steps go some way to mimicking a conventional auto in its manual mode. The ratio spread is useful, too, with the tall end dropping revs to 2000rpm at the freeway limit, making for unstressed cruising.
Claimed consumption is 7.3L/100km; we saw an indicated 10.8 over 500km of fairly vigorous driving. Overall, it’s a powertrain that easily has the measure of the atmo offerings in rivals such as the Nissan Qashqai and Honda HR-V.
Dynamics are less of a clearcut thumbs-up. The steering has
an on-centre softness and vacancy clearly aimed at drivers who want their SUV to feel sneezeproof at the straight-ahead, but the result is a fairly lifeless wheel that needs a crank of lock before providing any sense of connection.
The chassis tune favours urban ride comfort, which is welcome, but the downside is significant roll into roundabouts, and high-speed damping that impersonates a bed salesman demonstrating partner disturbance on a budget Sealy.
But will buyers know … or care? Of course not. The equipment level, even at the LS entry point, is high, the safety story strong in Exceed, the connectivity boxes ticked. Teamed with the rakish, slightly blinged-’n’-creased styling, the requisite elevated driving position and the option of all-wheel drive for a reasonable premium, and it’s quickly evident there’s nothing mediocre or ill-considered about Mitsubishi’s business plan.
Model Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Exceed 2WD Engine 1499cc inline 4cyl, dohc, 16v, turbo Max power 110kw @ 5700-6700rpm Max torque 250Nm @ 2000-3500rpm Transmission CVT Weight 1490kg 0-100km/h 9.0sec (estimated) Economy 7.3L/100km Price $36,000 On sale Now