First off, I would like to say a big thank you to the team at Mitsubishi Motors in the UK for granting me access to a Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross for a week. This mid-size SUV is the Japanese manufacturer’s first all-new vehicle for a while so I was excited to test it out and see what it could do.
This new crossover SUV from Mitsubishi has to compete with vehicle’s like the Seat Ateca, Skoda Karoq, Nissan Qashqai, Kia Sportage and Toyota C-HR etc. But, is it up to the task? I definitely feel that it is. And for those of you out there who are sceptical, I would urge you to look past the badge and really pay attention to what this vehicle has to offer.
I mean let’s be honest Mitsubishi has been making off-roaders for quite a while now so it shouldn’t be too much to expect them to produce a decent crossover SUV. The segment has become increasingly popular so it makes sense for Mitsu to throw themselves into the mix.
The car I tested was the flagship Eclipse Cross 4 that sits at the top-end of the range just underneath the limited First Edition model. Within the Mitsubishi lineup, it is positioned between the ASX and the Outlander. Currently, all Eclipse Cross models come with a 1.5-litre turbocharged direct injection petrol engine that delivers around 160bhp and produces up to 250Nm of torque. As for fuel consumption, the Eclipse Cross averages 42.8 miles per gallon which is not the worst in the crossover SUV market but definitely isn’t the best. It seems likely that Mitsubishi will release a 2.2-litre diesel in the not too distant future and maybe even a hybrid variant.
During my time with the vehicle, I drove it on the motorway more than once and I can verify that it has no trouble keeping up with the pack. It doesn’t struggle on hills, and if you need it, the car can provide a sharp burst of acceleration when asked. On city roads, the Eclipse Cross is happy to cruise along at a reserved pace and doesn’t belt out lots of unwanted engine noise.
When I received the specifications for the vehicle I was happy to see that it was the six-speed manual I would be getting, rather than the automatic (just a personal preference). In my opinion, the gearbox could benefit from being a bit more refined but overall it was good. The clutch wasn’t too light which allowed me to feel involved in the driving experience which is really what I look for out of a manual. Oh, and for those of you out there who get a bit carried away and need some prompting, the dashboard has an alert that tells you when it is the right time to shift gears.
The manual Eclipse Cross is front-wheel drive (FWD) as opposed to the automatic which is four-wheel drive (4WD) and includes Mitsubishi’s Super All Wheel Control (S-AWC) system. This system enables the vehicle to automatically provide more torque to the rear wheels when contending with low-friction driving surfaces. Now, the car I had didn’t include this technology so I can’t comment on how good it is, but I can say that the ride in the car I was given was smooth and the suspension had no trouble dealing with the generally poor-quality roads of London.
The steering was light and uninvolving but it was direct. Around corners the Eclipse Cross felt well balanced and ended up where I wanted it to. Also, when cornering I experienced minimal body roll which is something that other vehicles in this class struggle with. You have to remember that this is an SUV so you will not get the same handling out of it as you would a sports car, but for what it is, it handles well. And, considering it’s size, the vehicle had a very impressive turning circle, making parking and manoeuvring that much easier. The rear parking cameras were nothing short of incredible. Not only do you get a front and rear view camera, but you also get bird’s eye view footage of the vehicle to help you find the perfect position when parking. The combination of parking cameras with on-screen guidelines, parking sensors and the regular mirrors attached to the vehicle made parking a doddle. I definitely think it is one of the car’s best features.
Design and styling
The exterior styling of the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is modern and distinctive. The front end of the car and the side profile are definitely the best looking areas. The vehicle’s stylish lines coupled with 18-inch alloy wheels and a coupé-style sloping roofline do look very good. However, the rear end is similar to Marmite, you either love it or hate it. The split-rear screen somewhat limits visibility and I’m not sure it’s worth it for part of the car that honestly doesn’t look as good as the rest of it. That said, the rear-end looking a bit ‘different’ helps the car to stand out from the crowd which might not be such a bad thing from a marketing standpoint.
The inside of the car was a very nice place to be which is something that cannot be said for some older Mitsubishi vehicles. The overall layout was clean and stylish with everything positioned where you would want it. The leather heated seats were very comfortable and the ability to adjust the driver seat electronically was a nice touch. Throughout the cockpit-style cabin, you find gloss piano black plastic and even some fake carbon-fibre dotted around. However, I can’t say that any of it looked out of place. The steering wheel which was made of gloss black plastic (which could be prone to scratches) and leather had a very balanced, snazzy look.
Space and practicality
The cabin had a nice amount of storage options, including a decent size glove compartment, two cup holders, door trays that are big enough to fit a water bottle and a storage area underneath the centre armrest. Also, in the back seating area, there is a fold-down centre armrest with two cup holders. Now, although the front seating area is extremely comfortable, unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the back seats (if you’re tall). The downside of the coupé-style sloping roofline I mentioned earlier is that headroom for people sitting in the back seats is limited. Therefore, anyone who is relatively tall won’t want to sit in the back for a prolonged length of time. Thankfully there is an ample amount of legroom in the back so at least your head and legs are not being crushed at the same time. Unlike a lot of other cars in the segment, the rear seats can be moved forwards and backwards. Oh, and I nearly forgot to mention that the Eclipse Cross has a dual-pane sunroof that allows a lot of natural light into the cabin. Only the front sunroof can physically open, but this is more than adequate.
Apart from the limited rear seat headroom I mentioned earlier, the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is a very practical SUV. It would be great as a family car for daily trips around town and longer journeys when required. The boot offers 341 litres of space, which isn’t the best out there for this type of vehicle, but it’s OK. If you need the extra space, at the expense of two passengers sitting in the back, you can slide the rear folding seats forward extending the boot space to 448 litres.
This is one of the areas where the Eclipse Cross really stands out, especially when it comes to driver assistance systems. I already mentioned the 360° parking cameras and parking sensors, but I didn’t tell you about the following: forward collision mitigation, lane departure warning, blind spot warning and rear cross traffic alert. I found the blind spot warning lights located within the side mirrors especially useful when changing lanes on the motorway. And although the forward collision mitigation system never needed to intervene while I had the car, it was nice to know that it was keeping an eye open for any potential traffic or pedestrian risks on the road ahead.
This intelligent SUV also comes with LED daytime running lights, auto headlamps, auto high beam and auto wipers which gives you less to think about. The lights and wipers can be adjusted manually, but I found the auto settings to be very intuitive and efficient. The car also has an ‘eco’ mode button that is good for when you are driving around town and want to be a bit more economical and environmentally friendly. For driving on the motorway you also have the option of cruise control which can be initiated using a button on the steering wheel. There are also buttons for audio volume, track selection and the parking camera on the steering wheel. Oh, and the car I drove had dual-zone climate control which also had an auto mode that kept cabin temperatures nice and balanced.
The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross 3 and 4 come with keyless entry and start which worked very well. When the driver is in close proximity to the car with the key fob they can press a small button on the door handle to unlock the vehicle. Alternatively, you can unlock the car using a button on the key fob itself. The electronic folding side mirrors close when the car is locked to give them extra protection from being bashed while the vehicle is parked up. The side mirrors can be manually opened or closed using a button on the driver door if needed. Also, the angle of the side mirrors can be adjusted electronically to suit the driver with a button located next to the side mirror button.
All models of the Eclipse Cross come with a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system that is located at the top of the centre console. Surprisingly, satellite navigation isn’t available with any model. However, the smartphone link display audio system allows you to connect your smartphone via Android Auto or Apple CarPlay which means you can play music or use a navigation system through your phone. For example, I used Google Maps via my iPhone as a form of navigation and was able to play music from my iTunes library simultaneously. The in-car entertainment system also allows you to access vehicle information and comes with DAB radio and Bluetooth connectivity. Lower down on the centre console there is a Lexus-style touchpad that you can use to control the infotainment system. For some, this may be a better option than reaching over to the touchscreen while driving. The Eclipse Cross 4 model I tested out included the Rockford Fosgate speaker system that includes 9-speakers one of which is a subwoofer located on the right side of the boot. The system sounded crisp and delivered a good sound quality.
Last but not least I have to mention the nifty full-colour heads-up display (HUD) you get with this vehicle. Upon powering up the Eclipse Cross a transparent panel raises up out of the area just above the driver dashboard providing passengers with quite a show. The panel is positioned in the driver’s field of vision and provides speed and cruise control information. If you prefer not to use the heads-up display it will close up back into its home within the top of the dashboard with the press of a button.
Safety and reliability
It’s clear that Mitsubishi has put a lot of work into making the Eclipse Cross a safe car to drive and this hard work has paid off in the form of a five star Euro NCAP rating. Achieving the highest scoring in its class is definitely something that will inspire some potential buyers to choose the Eclipse Cross over competitor offerings.
Additionally, all new Mitsubishi vehicles come with a five year, 62,500-mile warranty to give customers that extra peace of mind should anything go wrong during that time.
A lot of the popular mid-size SUV’s that are currently available to buy sit around the £20,000 mark and the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is no different. The on-the-road (OTR) price for the Eclipse Cross 4 manual that I tested out costs £24,990, but for the entry-level Eclipse Cross 2, you would be looking at an OTR price of £21,290.
There are definitely some improvements that could be made to the boot size, rear seating area, and the rear styling of the car, which if implemented could make the Eclipse Cross a top contender in the segment. However, elsewhere this motor has a lot going for it, for example, heaps of useful technology, an impressive safety rating and an attractive front and side profile. And although I feel the gearbox could be improved upon, the overall driveability and handling of the Eclipse Cross was more than satisfactory. Moreover, it was enjoyable to drive, especially with the dual-pane sunroof opened up on a sunny spring day. Mitsu is definitely on the right track when it comes to their safety technology, notably the bird’s eye view parking camera option which has been executed extremely well. The moral of the story is that Mitsubishi is on the right track with this crossover SUV and I can see it being a real option for buyers.
If you would like to find out more about the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross, please visit the official Mitsubishi Motors UK website by clicking here