An interesting addition to the small-SUV crossover ranks.
- Guaranteed reliability and quality
- Four-wheel drive version bound to be capable
- All models major on comfort and refinement
- The styling won't be to everyone's taste
- No high-powered version or hybrid at launch
- Limited range of engines; single bodystyle
The all-new Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is set to go on sale later this year, with deliveries taking place in Octover 2017, followed by first deliveries in January 2018. It joins the range including to slot between the Mitsubishi ASX and the big-selling Outlander.
This crossover coupes is designed very much with the Range Rover Evoque and Toyota C-HR in mind as style leaders – there are far worse examples to imitate in the crowded SUV market.
But it retains Mitsubishi's core values: variable four-wheel drive and the promise that this SUV will survive a particularly testing nuclear winter.
Arresting styling from this SUV specialist
This one is marked out by a stylish, angular look that has it stand out from the crowd, although, front on, it's very similar to other offerings from Mitsubishi.
The front end is rugged, geometric and largely faithful to the Mitsubishi family face, but it's entirely different from the B-posts back. The roofline drops sharply, then a pronounced body slash zips back in the opposite direction. Round the back you find a tailgate with a split glasshouse, like a Civic or Prius.
Other styling points include the high-mounted, stretched rear lamps that divide the rear window in two, a distinctly wedge-shaped side view, and deep styling slashes along its flanks. The overall effect is very striking.
What's under the skin?
Unlike many offerings in this highly competitive market sector, the Eclipse Cross is available with an electronically-controlled four-wheel drive system with variable torque split – it other words, it sends a different amount of power to the rear wheels depending driving conditions.
The Eclipse Cross is powered by a pair of engines – a new 1.5-litre direct-injection turbocharged petrol, with a new CVT transmission that simulates an eight-speed set-up in Sport Mode. It also gets Mitsubishi's 2.2-litre commonrail direct-injection turbocharged diesel with a conventional eight-speed auto.
What's it like inside?
The design clothes a package that is pretty spacious, for humans at least. Rear kneeroom and headroom are fine for a six-footer, and that was with the secondary sunroof which scotches the regular car's double bubble contoured roof.
The raked roof and narrow sideglass do impinge a little on rear visibility, and may make some tall passengers claustrophobic, though the seat back can be reclined (and seat base slid forward). The boot is wide but shallow, and only swallows 341 litres of luggage – compared with 430 for the Qashqai.
The ride height is noticeably more commanding and SUV-like than a SEAT Ateca crossover for one - and the seats are wide and squidgy. And that comfort focus doesn't just apply to the perches....
Mitsubishi lists the following equipment for the Eclipse Cross:
- Smartphone Link Display Audio system
- Touchpad Controller for infotainment system
- Apple CarPlay
- Android Auto
- Head Up Display
What's it like to drive?
The Eclipse Cross is born to cruise. The suspension is soft, allowing the Mitsubishi to glide along. At times it feels a little floaty, so don't go into a corner too hot. The light steering is a bit sedate on turn in, and the Eclipse Cross rolls and gets quite cross at being chucked into corners.
The turbocharged 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine is coupled with a Continuously Variable Transmission. So you can end up pressing the throttle too firmly, the revs rising as a stepless CVT will do. The engine noise is pretty well suppressed.
There’s a manual override via tasteful plastic paddles, which simulates a conventional auto’s stepped ratios. On a twisty mountainous section, you could leave the box in 'third' and it'll happily handle what a keen driver throws at it.
Acceleration is adequate: 0-62mph takes 9.8secs. Combined fuel economy is 40.3mpg.
Is it safe?
Like its contemporaries, the Eclipse Cross achieved a full five-star crash-test rating from Euro NCAP at the end of 2017. You get autonomous emergency braking (AEB), active cruise control which brakes and accelerates the car in traffic, a warning chime if you veer out of lane and seven airbags. There’s even an optional head-up display.
Does four-wheel drive make a difference?
You can have your Eclipse Cross as a front-driver with six-speed manual, or all-wheel drive CVT (or a 2.2 diesel that arrives later). In standard auto mode, torque is split 80:20 front:rear, though up to 45% can be sent backwards.
Individual wheels can be braked if slip is detected, in a bid to maintain forward momentum, and this S-AWC (Super-All Wheel Control) system has two other programmed settings, snow and gravel, with the latter sending up to 60% of torque to the rear to conquer tricky terrain.
The Parkers Verdict
The most notable aspect of the Eclipse Cross is its comfortable ride. It feels Citroën-esque in terms of refinement, with a level of refinement that's admirable. The renewed interior quality and tech offered are also a step forward for Mitsubishi.
The promise of its four-wheel drive capability and the on-road dynamics are more old-school, mind you. Enthusiasts will probably find the drive a little frustrating. But families looking for a spacious, civilised and iconoclastic compact SUV now have a new contender to consider, from a brand with true 4x4-pedigree.