Mitsubishi tries to Eclipse its competitors with new mid-sized crossover

Japanese brand struggling to make its mark amongst Irish new car buyers

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross: family front styling with more provocative rear look

Make: Mitsubishi

Model: Eclipse Cross

Year: 2017

Fuel: Petrol

Date Reviewed: June 27, 2017

Tue, Jun 27, 2017, 12:38

   

Mitsubishi is a tiny player in the Irish new car market despite the Japanese firm’s impressive reputation for off road vehicles. Its L200 pick up and Pajero SUV have near legendary status among contractors and builders.

Sadly the glory days of its passenger car range in Ireland are a distant memory. There was a time Irish roads were full of popular models like the Colt, the Lancer or the Galant. Today you’d spot a Porsche Macan on Irish roads before you’d sight a Mitsubishi Space Star. With the Lancer no longer in production, Mitsubishi Motor Company intends to concentrate on the growing crossover SUV market.

The firm already has an entry point in the class with the ASX. This November the slightly larger Eclipse Cross will join it.

The new car, built in Japan, sits on the same platform at the popular Outlander crossover, but is shorter overall and is a strict five seater. Sadly the excellent Outlander PHEV plug in hybrid version is just too dear for many at €49,900. Despite the clever hybrid technology and loads of extras as standard: a premium price tag just doesn’t work with the Mitsubishi brand.

For the Eclipse Cross expect prices to be in line with class leaders like the Hyundai Tucson and the Nissan Qashqai. Mitsubishi has a new and powerful 1.5 litre petrol engine that debuts in the Eclipse Cross and it will represent the vast bulk of sales. The current 2.2 litre diesel that features in the Outlander will also be available later in 2018. However the diesel will only be available in all wheel drive form with a conventional 8-speed automatic. Mitsubishi in Ireland says there is a significant swing back to petrol and cites its ASX that is presently running a 50/50 diesel to petrol split in sales year to date.

From Fast & Furious to family functionality

Despite being a crossover, the Eclipse name last featured in the Mitsubishi range as a two door coupe built between 1989 and 2011. The Eclipse was never sold here but reached cult status thanks to the Fast & the Furious movie franchise. The late Paul Walker drove a modified lime green Eclipse that tapped in to the popularity of modified motors at the time.

The new Eclipse Cross is a far cry from Walker’s but it is a little ironic that it will be bought by drivers who grew up with the Fast franchise and now find they have to conform to the realities of family motoring. The Eclipse Cross slots nicely in between the ASX and the Outlander.

The Eclipse Cross features interesting exterior styling. Penned by the same man who gave us the Nissan Juke, Tsunehiro Kunimoto, the five door the Cross is a tale of two cars. The front is smart looking and while there is a bit of Outlander mini-me it borrows a little from Lexus too. The roof features a nice double bubble form. The flank features doors that cover the sills that help keep legs mud free, plus there is a nice pressed design line. The rear end is unique and to my eyes the result of some husbandry between a Honda CRV and Toyota Prius. The rear is more odd than ugly but the styling aids rear visibility.

Borrowing the platform from the Outlander means the cabin is spacious can comfortably fit five adults.

Petrol power

The all wheel drive CVT 1.5 litre petrol test car I drove had an old school double sunroof and still had enough headroom in the rear for my 5’10”. When I get in to a Mitsubishi I expect to find a lot of nasty hard plastics and depressingly black trim. The Eclipse Cross gets a lot of new technology including a head up display and the dash materials are greatly improved.

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross: interior still needs work to catch up with rivals
Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross: interior still needs work to catch up with rivals

In an age of touchscreen and decluttered central consoles, this car still features lots of buttons and switches, but it is a far more pleasant place to spend time compared to earlier Mitsubishis. However, the firm is still some way short of its rivals in this regard. More work is needed here folks.

In Northern Spain we tested pre production cars fitted with the new four cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, in both the manual six speed front wheel drive and six speed CVT automatic in all wheel drive formats. The manual version is the livelier performer even if the official figures don’t back this up. The CVT is relatively quiet in normal driving but it does drone when you ask more of the Eclipse. Paddle shifts feature but the car actually accelerates more efficiently in full auto. The ride is comfortable and while there is 163hp and 250nm to call on, the power is best enjoyed on the open road and motorway. On twisty roads the Eclipse Cross feels less engaging and while the engine is eager, the handling characteristics are not; the electric power steering delivers little in the way of feedback through the wheel and the tyres and suspension load up when cornering.

New alliance

Mitsubishi is the newest member of the Renault Nissan alliance and in October we will hear more oabout its plans and more importantly it’s place in the alliance. Currently a minor blip on the car-buying radar in Ireland, Mitsubishi has a very strong presence in South East Asia. It also has a rich heritage in four wheel drive production and its hybrid and EV expertise will contribute greatly to the alliance. The synergies from shared technologies will start to bear fruit from 2019.

The Eclipse Cross is pointing the way to a more highly styled future and Mitsubishi enginers confirmed that there is an electrified version in development. However, while they claim the new car is a radical move forward the Eclipse Cross only catches up with the competition and doesn’t pass it out. The future looks more promising for the diamond brand, but upcoming models may eclipse this crossover when it comes to representing a new era for the firm.

Lowdown: Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross 1.5 FWD Auto

Price: TBC but expect to start in the region of €27,000 Engine: 1,499cc four cylinder turbocharged petrol Power: 163hp Torque: 250nm 0-100km/h: 9.8 seconds Top speed: 200km/h Claimed fuel economy: 7.2 l/100km (39.2mpg) Emissions: 159g/CO2 Motor Tax: €570 Verdict: The Eclipse Cross is a step forward for Mitsubishi. The petrol engine and CVT auto option is ideal for effortless city use.