Alt coun­try

Bored of dull crossovers? The Mit­subishi Eclipse Cross might be many things, but dull it is not. By Steve Moody

CAR (UK) - - Our Cars -

ARE YOU BORED by the un­end­ing, unimag­i­na­tive ubiq­uity of drive­ways filled with crossovers near where you live? Qashqais, Ku­gas, Tiguans, all do­ing the same beige, John Lewis-y job in their own safe, pre­dictable way?

If so, then per­haps the Mit­subishi Eclipse Cross is the an­ti­dote. We’re go­ing to find out by run­ning one over the next few months, and I’d wa­ger one thing: it will not be dull.

The Eclipse Cross, right from its slightly odd name, and on­wards through de­sign and driv­e­train, chal­lenges a sec­tor pred­i­cated on con­ser­vatism. This might be a good thing. But then, in this safe space, where do­ing fam­ily tasks un­ob­tru­sively is a key re­quire­ment, maybe it’s not.

Mit­subishi’s new mid-size SUV is avail­able in three trim lev­els, 2, 3 and 4 (wither 1?), and we’ve opted for the top-spec 4. Even this gar­landed model re­tails at less than £30,000, and is stuffed so full of kit that the only ac­ces­sory avail­able other the £540 metal­lic paint we’ve cho­sen (and more of which later) is the – brace your­self – ‘clas­sic mats’.

On this 4 comes leather trim, elec­tri­cally ad­justable driver’s seat, panoramic roof, LED head­lamps, park­ing cam­eras with 360º view, blind spot warn­ing, auto cruise con­trol, Ap­ple CarPlay and a pre­mium sound sys­tem by some peo­ple called Rock­ford Fos­gate, who sound like a ’70s su­per­group (name not mu­sic qual­ity, I should add).

In the spirit of ad­ven­ture, I ticked the box for the new 161bhp 1.5-litre tur­bocharged petrol en­gine, do­ing its thing in con­cert with four-wheel drive and, I gulped at this a bit, a CVT gear­box.

Never in the his­tory of au­to­mo­tive tech­nol­ogy have I hated a thing more than CVT gear­boxes and their hys­ter­i­cal whiny tantrums, and I in­clude Vaux­hall Signum in­di­ca­tors, and the Vaux­hall Signum, in that list. So this was some­thing of a leap of faith. The CVT in the Eclipse Cross is stepped, which will ap­par­ently give the im­pres­sion of a proper auto gear­box. The first half mile was un­der­taken with a wince and grit­ted teeth, but ini­tial im­pres­sions are favourable and it seems to be be­hav­ing it­self and act­ing more like an auto than an ir­ri­tant. Phew.

But even be­fore prop­erly putting the Eclipse Cross to the test, it al­ready has an ad­van­tage over all that other bland stuff in this sec­tor, and that’s au­then­tic­ity. Mit­subishi makes four-wheel drives that are tough and de­signed to do the job, and where we live, in a val­ley in the mid­dle of nowhere sur­round­ing by farm­ers and mud, this seems like the right fit.

And with such a fit in mind, I opted for a brown one (known in of­fi­cial cir­cles as New Bronze) rea­son­ing that for half the year ev­ery­thing round me is brown, so why not the car? This has elicited nu­mer­ous re­sponses rang­ing from ad­mi­ra­tion to re­pug­nance, and – from Ben Pul­man – a raised eye­brow and an ‘are you quite sure?’ rem­i­nis­cent of Roger Moore at his most quizzi­cal.

But I am, so there. Brown is the new black. Whether the rest of the car stacks up to months of fam­ily and coun­try rough and tum­ble, though, re­mains to be seen.

All he lacks is straw pok­ing out of his mouth; Eclipse cun­ningly specced in Mud Brown

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