Univer­sity chal­lenge

Nuneaton Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE - By Peter Keenan

THE trek to de­posit the kids at univer­sity al­ways presents a unique chal­lenge for the un­lucky mo­tor sad­dled with the task of trans­port­ing their be­long­ings. The Mit­subishi Eclipse Cross drew the short straw this time but was more than up for the test.

The in­te­rior of this five-seater is ver­sa­tile and spa­cious so could cope with the gar­gan­tuan amount of kit and equip­ment nor­mally as­so­ci­ated with a small army.

The rear seats help­fully slide back and forth al­low­ing you to de­cide on the ra­tio be­tween leg room and boot space while up front the pow­ered seats can be ad­justed to suit on the well kit­ted out top-of-the-range ‘4’ model.

It all adds up to a max­i­mum lug­gage area of 448 litres ac­cessed via a top-hinged tailgate and a nice wide open­ing.

There is lots of stor­age space for a fam­ily’s knick-knacks with drinks hold­ers and cubby holes aplenty. Neat fea­tures in­clude a slid­ing odd­ments tray in the cen­tre con­sole and a split shelf glove box as well as a cov­ered stor­age box be­tween the driver and front-seat pas­sen­ger.

At one stage I did con­tem­plate get­ting a trailer which the Eclipse Cross is more than ca­pa­ble of han­dling with a tow­ing ca­pac­ity of 1,600kg for the 1.5-litre petrol model.

The en­gine is a will­ing beast pow­er­ing the four-wheel-drive Eclipse Cross – front-wheel drive ver­sions are also avail­able – from 0-62mph in a shade over 10 sec­onds on its way to a top speed of 124mph.

Fuel econ­omy is okay with a claimed av­er­age fig­ure of 36.7mpg, com­ing in closer to 30mpg in the real world, and emis­sions of 175g/km.

The au­to­matic gear­box is smooth enough al­though it shows a marked lack of en­thu­si­asm for chang­ing up when you are ac­cel­er­at­ing hard, mak­ing for more noise than you would like. Natty pad­dles be­hind the steer­ing wheel of­fer the op­tion of chang­ing gear man­u­ally while a proper man­ual trans­mis­sion is also avail­able on other mod­els.

Leav­ing the slight quib­ble about the au­to­matic trans­mis­sion to one side, the Eclipse Cross is de­cent to drive with in­for­ma­tive steer­ing, a com­fort­able ride and a nice bal­ance to the han­dling.

Good lev­els of grip are guar­an­teed by the 4x4 sys­tem which al­ter­nates power to each wheel de­pend­ing on the trac­tion avail­able and of­fers spe­cific set­tings for in­clement con­di­tions.Mit­subishi also gives the au­to­matic ver­sion an elec­tronic park­ing brake which of­fers an auto-hold set­ting that comes in handy when ne­go­ti­at­ing traf­fic, as well as adap­tive cruise con­trol.

Up against the likes of the Nis­san Qashqai, Kia Sportage and Peu­geot’s 3008, the Eclipse Cross is pitched into a red-hot SUV mar­ket.

But Mit­subishi give it some se­ri­ous weapons with dis­tinc­tive ex­te­rior styling and plenty of good­ies to play with when you climb in­side.

It has se­ri­ous road pres­ence thanks to sharply-sculpted body­work and a slop­ing roofline which gives it a coupe look. Roof bars and a skid plate as well as a dis­tinc­tive nose and head­lights plus stylish al­loys are all crowd-pleasers. The tailgate de­sign catches the eye with a nifty dou­ble rear win­dow di­vided by a spoiler.

The cabin is mod­ern with a seven-inch touch­screen dis­play perched on top of the dash­board. A track­pad con­troller is po­si­tioned next to the driver but I found it sim­pler to use the screen it­self to se­lect the many func­tions on of­fer.

The air con con­trols are sep­a­rate which makes the sys­tem eas­ier to use. There is no fac­tory-fit­ted sat nav but the car can be hooked up to Ap­ple and An­droid smart­phones.

There are plenty of safety fea­tures with all mod­els get­ting for­ward col­li­sion avoid­ance, lane de­par­ture warn­ing and a re­vers­ing cam­era.

It all comes to­gether to cre­ate a de­cent SUV that looks sure to give the com­pe­ti­tion some­thing to think about.

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