Mitsubishi’s new Eclipse Cross in manual petrol FWD ‘4’ trim put through its paces
27 May 2018
Just as a pub would be nothing short of daft to omit main courses and especially a carvery from its Sunday menu, cue the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross that plugs the feverishly popular mid-size crossover gap between the ASX and Outlander in the range of the marque that was recently swallowed into the Renault-Nissan alliance.
Designed by Tsunehiro Kunimoto who was responsible for the iconic R32 Skyline and the wackily-styled Juke, the Eclipse Cross wears Mitsubishi’s ‘dynamic shield’ family face so as not to stick out like a sore thumb, but the extra elbow grease expended in sculpting, creasing and positioning has been well-spent, making it the most attractive car in the range from the front and three-quarters.
The Eclipse Cross’ steeply-raked, wedge-like side profile and truncated derriere certainly give it a vigorous stance, and although the full width light bar that slices the rear window in half horizontally may not be everyone’s cup of Ryokucha, it ensures that Mitsubishi’s new coupe-SUV is far more visually striking and sportily planted-looking than its plentiful but more formulaic rivals. In ‘4’ trim as tested, the 18" black/silver alloy wheels finish its exterior off nicely.
Inside, front seats with strong side supports, a meaty, leather-clad steering wheel and an evocatively cowled instrument binnacle immediately conjure up a sporty, ready-for-action vibe. Boldly curvaceous gloss black and chrome trim sections dominate the cabin that feels rock-solid but somewhat old-fashioned owing to several buttons and controls that either look antiquated or lack tactility, plus a conventional handbrake that will appeal to many drivers but is positioned too close to the seat.
It’s more visually stimulating inside an Eclipse Cross ‘4’ than on-board its Qashqai and Kadjar siblings but not as plush as a Tiguan or as stylish as a 3008, for instance. The 7-inch infotainment touchscreen can alternatively be operated by finger-pad and comes as standard along with DAB, Bluetooth and today’s other expected features, but the decision to ditch built-in sat nav in favour of Android and Apple mirroring might prove off-putting to some people. Electrically-adjustable leather seats, a panoramic roof and an upgraded sound system with a proper subwoofer lift the 4’s cabin, which is impressively roomy front and rear if not in the limited 341-litre boot, which doesn’t have an electric tailgate option. Mitsubishi’s confident mid-size SUV is fitted with loads of safety technology as standard, which is reassuring for families and fleets alike, and ‘4’ models even come with a head-up display, albeit a retractable affair not integrated into the glass.
To drive, many motorists will relish the prospect of the manual gearbox, high-revving 1.5-litre petrol engine and front-wheel drive combo available for the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross in 4 trim as an alternative to all-wheel drive and a CVT ‘automatic’ transmission. After heaving the tall, old-school gearstick into first gear, the 6-speed ‘box is pleasant enough and the ratios are nicely judged, the 163PS turbocharged engine never feeling underpowered.
On paper, it can’t match the claimed fuel consumption of the Peugeot 3008 1.2 PureTech but at 42.8mpg in theory and averaging mid-30s in real-world driving, the Mitsubishi comfortably betters the petrol Sportage despite being 33PS more powerful and also torquier. The Eclipse Cross’ CO2 emissions of 151g/km aren’t anything to write home about and attract steep road tax, but for motorists understandably put off choosing diesel, its 63-litre fuel tank provides a decent range. Despite the split rear window, all-round visibility is very good thanks in part to the large wing mirrors, the only downside being the ensuing wind noise at speed. The ride on 18” alloys is overly firm and steering feedback unsurprisingly isn’t plentiful but body-roll is kept in check fairly well and it’s nimble enough to manoeuvre at low speeds.
With sharp, distinctive styling, a comfortable, well-equipped if slightly unusual interior and a perky petrol engine that rewards a sporty driving ethos, the 1.5-litre Eclipse Cross ‘4’ certainly represents an individual choice in the crowded mid-size crossover segment. What’s more, its on the road price tag of just shy of £25,000 makes it more competitive than similarly-specified rivals and translates to an appealing £294.99 per month including VAT through personal contract hire (PCH). Combine Mitsubishi’s ‘he who dares’ philosophy with today’s anti-diesel climate and it’ll be intriguing to see how this leftfield choice fares.