Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross has style and space, if not pace
Mitsubishi takes on an intensely competitive crossover market with a well-priced contender
As car makers create ever-new SUV niches, it’s becoming a challenge to introduce new models without cannibalising sales from themselves.
And so, when the Eclipse Cross was launched in SA recently the extant ASX range, which has been on the local market for some time, received a price cut and was positioned a half-step below its new stablemate in Mitsubishi’s softroader family.
Apart from being a smidgen larger than the ASX, the Eclipse Cross is also arguably the better-looking car with its more coupe-like styling and Mitsubishi’s new “dynamic shield” face.
It’s an eye-catching newcomer in an extremely competitive market where all contenders are vying to stand out. The light bar across its back window somewhat hinders rearward vision however, and shows that sometimes design trumps practicality in the quest for showroom appeal.
There are two versions of the Eclipse Cross, a front-wheel drive selling for R399,995 and an all-wheel drive model priced at R449,995. The latter uses a Super All Wheel Control (S-AWC) system combined with Active Yaw Control (AYC) to automatically apportion drive between the front and rear axles, and also the left and right wheels.
The hi-tech systems help save your bacon if you accelerate or brake too hard when cornering on a gravel road or wet tar. The AWD version also offers auto, snow and gravel drive modes depending on road conditions, but with its limited 180mm ground clearance the Eclipse Cross doesn’t present itself as any half-serious offroader.
Therefore the front-wheel drive model, the one on test here, probably represents the better value with its 50k price saving. It lacks the fancy all-wheel drive but it does have ABS brakes and electronic stability control which very effectively keep it gripping the surface and pointed in the right direction.
The Eclipse Cross is one of the market’s more nimble SUVs and feels surefooted through corners without major body roll, although the 2.0l normally-aspirated petrol engine doesn’t necessarily inspire any sporty driving antics.
Both versions of the Eclipse Cross feed their power to the wheels via a continuously variable transmission, a gearbox that’s recently become de rigueur in this segment due to its low cost.
Regular readers will know our lukewarm feelings towards CVTs, but this is one of the less unpleasant ones. It has programmed steps to simulate gearchanges, while the driver can take over shifting duties using steering wheel paddle shifters.
It’s on the open road when accelerating up to cruising speed, especially with cruise control engaged, that some of the typical rubber-band effect rears its head and leads to high-rev droning.
Power-wise the Eclipse Cross is at the meeker end of the market segment, particularly with its torque output. There’s no excitement from the 2.0l engine and the focus is rather on easygoing commuting pace. On the open road the car doesn’t zoom to the speed limit with particularly great haste, but once there it holds cruising speeds effectively, even up steeper inclines.
Beneath the swish styling is a roomy cabin with front and rear passengers enjoying plenty of leg and head room, with rear backrests that can be adjusted for comfort. The boot’s a practical size too and contains a full size spare wheel.
Mitsubishi’s done good work in creating a pleasant interior appeal with neat finishes, soft-touch dashboard, and black leather seats with contrasting red stitching.
An extensive list of standard modcons keeps occupants happy, including things like heated front seats and an electrically adjustable driver seat. The fully-fledged infotainment is bundled with an audio system and navigation but the touchscreen sometimes requires a few finger taps to get an icon to respond.
Mitsubishi’s new Eclipse Cross is for the most part a pleasant and competent family vehicle, with its roominess and large hit list of features its most likeable points.
It’s one of the better priced segment contenders too, if one of the more modestly powered.
Type: Four cylinder petrol
Type: Six-speed CVT
Type: Front-wheel drive
Fuel Consumption: 7.9l/100km (claimed)
Seven airbags, ABS brakes, stability control, hill-start assist, central locking, keyless operation, rear view camera, tilt and telescopic steering adjustment, cruise control, Bluetooth with hands-free voice control, head up display, electric windows, infotainment system with colour touchscreen, electric mirrors, automatic aircon, leather seats, heated front seats, electrically adjustable driver seat, daytime running lights, dusk sensing headlamps, rain sensing windscreen wipers, front and rear park distance control, 18” alloy wheels
Warranty: Three years/100,000km
Service plan: Five years/90,000km
Lease*: R8,593 per month
* at 10% interest over 60 months no deposit
Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross 2.0L CVT 4x2
Styling, handling, price
Hit-and-miss touchscreen, average power
Well-priced, appealingly-styled crossover
***Value For Money
Suzuki Grand Vitara 2.4 Dune, 122kW/225Nm — R391,900
Ford Kuga 1.5 T Ambiente auto, 132kW/240Nm — R398,500
Renault Koleos 2.5 Expression, 126kW/233Nm — R399,900
Mazda CX-5 2.0 Active auto, 121kW/210Nm — R410,500
Kia Sportage 2.0 Ignite Plus auto, 115kW/196Nm — R410,995
Honda HR-V 1.8 Elegance, 105kW/172Nm — R419,900
Peugeot 3008 1.6T Active, 121kW/240Nm — R424,900
Toyota Rav4 2.0 GX CVT 2WD, 127kW/203Nm — R427,600
VW Tiguan 1.4 TSI Trendline auto, 110kW/250Nm — R433,400
Hyundai Tucson 2.0 Premium auto, 115kW/196Nm — R433,900
Opel Grandland X 1.6 Turbo, 121kW/240Nm — R441,870