By Ian Strachan
I must confess, when I first saw the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross I thought “Why on earth does Mitsubishi want another SUV?” writes motoring editor Ian Strachan.
After all, the Japanese carmaker already has the excellent and well-received Outlander, and the smaller but equally good ASX range, not to mention the venerated Shogun.
But then I drove it, and realised that this is a very different animal. It’s bigger than the ASX, but smaller than the Outlander. The result is an ideal family car with bags of practicality, available in two or four wheel drive. And in design terms it is certainly more eye-catching than many of its rivals, with a distinctive twin-section rear window and a sharp, bold and attractive front end.
The Eclipse is also much more car-like. This is for buyers who might normally go for a Volkswagen Golf or Ford Focus. This is not a country estate mud-plugger. But it does have plenty of space, with a 60/40 split rear seat which slides back or forwards to give more luggage space or more rear seat legroom. The back of the rear seats is also rake adjustable.
The Eclipse is a nice package. It also delivers respectable fuel consumption compared to some vehicles of similar size and weight. And it has the bonus of a five year warranty.
I tested the Eclipse Cross 4 petrol-powered version with four wheel drive and a CVT stepless automatic transmission.
The 1.5 163 bhp petrol engine is a nice unit, delivering plenty of mid-range pulling power while never sounding overworked. It’s reasonably frugal, delivering 40.4 mpg in mixed driving.
The continuously variable automatic gearbox is smooth and seamless, and the vehicle handles very pleasantly. It held the road well, and was confident when cornering.
Like most SUVs from other manufacturers the Eclipse Cross is a good looking vehicle, but unlike some of its competitors it starts at just £21,275 on the road for the entry level version. The specification I test drove comes in at £27,900. Still well-priced for its sector.
Equipment on this trim level includes head-up display, twin sunroofs, leather seats, all-ropund parking sensors with rear camera, cruise control, electric windows, RDS radio with Bluetooth and USB ports, all-round airbags, 17 inch alloys, automatic climate control, and keyless entry and ignition. Onboard features are controlled from a seven-inch touchscreen, although there is no satellite navigation as standard. At this specification level and price that’s a big omission.
I like the Eclipse’s smooth, confident and distinctive styling. Despite its upright road stance this is a car that looks at home on a motorway or a country road. The dramatic front grille further improves its purposeful looks.
This is a solid SUV that won’t break the bank. Whether you’re downsizing or upsizing you’ll enjoy it.