I was particularly looking forward to the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross test. I was already intrigued by this model when I saw the XR-PHEV II concept at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2015. Its world premiere at the Geneva Motor Show two years later showed that the essential design elements of the concept had been retained, which is a very positive thing.
A first glance at the aggressively sculpted front end makes it clear: “I’m not a car for sissies”. The distinctive chrome grille flows seamlessly into the large, sharply cut front lights. The ornate gloss trim typical of the brand’s new models arcs around the turn signals and fog lights and flows sideways to the bottom of the bumper, visually widening the car. The spectacularly curved bumper rises into the space and is finished with a decorative red line at the bottom. The chrome details, despite their abundance, do not look kitsch and tastefully contribute to the “frowning” look of the front of the car.
The protruding front fenders, perfectly filled with tasteful 18″ wheels, progress to the tall side doors, which are softened by two moldings. The lower moulding flows seamlessly into the rear bumper, and the upper one rises dynamically through the door handles to the high-set taillights. The car’s tapering roof suggests the shape of a coupe. The doors and fenders are wraparound, with silver trim running along the bottom of the doors.
The back corresponds in its intricacy to the front. A massive spoiler hides the top-mounted rear window wiper. The light panel forms a sharp edge dividing the rear window in two. The lower part of the fifth door is probably the only rounded element of the car. The black plastic bumper is finished with chrome trim and imitation chassis protection.
The car makes a powerful impression, especially up close, due to its 1,685mm height. When viewed from the side, despite its 4,405 mm length, it looks compact due to its short overhangs.
The Eclipse Cross in this colour commands attention. Red is ruling the automotive industry at the moment, but Mitsubishi lands it and accentuates its edges and creases. With the new design style, Mitsibishi has managed to hit the black. Its edginess, apart from Lexus perhaps, still manages to differentiate it from the mass of other SUVs in this category and guarantees its clear brand affiliation. One can only hope that the successors to the ASX and Outlander will follow suit with this design style.
On opening the massive doors, I was pleased to find that the makers had kept the cleanliness of our trousers in mind and hadn’t forgotten about the honest overlay of the sills, which are also extremely narrow, making it easier to get into the car.
A fleeting glance into the interior evokes a sense of quality. The top of the dashboard is made up of a chunky black soft-touch plastic that juts out into the space, creating an unusual wedge under which a silver trim extends seamlessly into the centre console. The centre console is shaped similarly but, in my opinion, somewhat impractically at the bottom to hide the climate controls. Still one “floor below” is the hidden ECO MODE button, which made my driving experience quite unpleasant with its positioning and especially its function, but more on that later.
About the ECO MODE button, the ECO MODE button is hidden in the center stack.
Conveniently located in the automatic transmission lever area are the 4×4 drive mode selector switch, a touchpad for infotainment control, and a handbrake controller with Auto Hold.
It suits me that the dashboard is a horizontal split style information up / control down. The multimedia system display is large enough and easy to read even on a sunny day. To the lower left are single-purpose buttons for the assistance systems, headup display controls, and the start-stop switch.
The inside of the door is filled with a pleasant, softly cushioned material. I praise the leather-upholstered, soft and ample armrest. The large door handle, on the other hand, forces the driver into gymnastic elements when trying to operate the side windows.
The steering wheel could be adjustable to a greater extent in my opinion, especially taller figures would definitely need to pull it closer to their body. It’s multi-functional, with a pleasingly thick rim, and doesn’t obstruct the view of the instrument panel. This is made up of two clear, classic ‘alarm’ dials and a TFT display in the middle full of various information on consumption, range, fuel tank level, coolant temperature, 4×4 system status, assistance systems and so on. Switching between screens is unhappily handled by buttons under the instrument panel. For reasons unknown to me, Mitsubishi still sticks with this concept. However, it’s about the only transgression against dashboard ergonomics I’ve come across that I haven’t got used to. And while I’m being critical, I can’t help but point out the unfortunate use of piano lacquer in places where it naturally comes into contact with the driver’s hands, such as the area around the automatic lever and especially on the steering wheel.
I’ll still mention the rather large headup display showing speed, alerts and assistance system messages. It can be permanently folded down if it bothers anyone, but it suited me.
The dashboard as a whole left a good impression on me, as a whole it is, apart from a few details, well designed and ergonomically well managed, well crafted from valuable materials.
Behind the wheel
I had an excellent feeling from the front seats. They are quite wide, with pronounced lateral guidance, long enough seat cushions and incredibly comfortable. The lumbar support, despite the lack of adjustability, supports the back in the right position.
The seats are upholstered in high quality, thick leather, unfortunately not perforated, which is not the most pleasant on hot summer days. I regularly got out of the car with a wet spot on my back. The leather is softened by impressive orange stitching not only on the seats but also on the armrests.
Posed higher but natural with a nice pedal reach. The armrest between the seats is generously sized and comfortably soft. Interior space is ample in the shoulder area, and the center console didn’t restrict me in any way despite its width. There’s plenty of headroom up front, but slightly less in the rear seats, which can be solved by folding them down. They also slide and provide ample comfort even on longer journeys. Sitting ‘behind me’, at my height of 185 cm, I still have about 5 cm of space in front of my knees. Parents will be pleased with the easy installation of the child seat thanks to the visible IsoFix attachments.
The view from the car is seamless thanks to the abundant glazing and huge rear-view mirrors. The rear-window partitioning spoils this impression somewhat, which is probably why Mitsubishi offers a rear camera from the second trim (of four). The test piece in top Instyle trim even has four cameras, which not only makes parking easier but also helps when driving off-road.
The car is powered by an all-new 1,499cc supercharged petrol engine producing 120 kw at 5,500 rpm and 250 Nm of torque achieved between 1,800-4,500 rpm. The engine is already very refined, quiet and vibration-free after starting. Its performance is reminiscent of atmospheric turbocharged engines, which are not afraid of higher revs.
It is mated to a CVT transmission, of which Mitsubishi is justly proud. It behaves like a conventional continuously variable gearbox when the accelerator is gently depressed, with no revs rising as speed increases. On the contrary, pressing it harder ‘activates’ the eight preset gears and the gearbox starts behaving like a very fast HDM automatic. It took me a while to get used to this behaviour, but I got the hang of it in a short time and I find this solution almost ideal. Why almost? Because ECO. When trying to save fuel, you reach for the ECO mode button hidden at the bottom of the center console and suddenly almost nothing happens when you press the accelerator pedal. It’s only when you “stomp it into the floor” that the car shoots forward without warning. I slow down gently, the car slows down. It’s hard to find the throttle position so that the car drives smoothly at a steady speed. I understand that in the interest of reducing fuel consumption, hard acceleration should be avoided, but in ECO mode the car operates in a nothing/full style.
Another problem is the location of the aforementioned economy button. If ECO mode also worked seamlessly, i.e. it would just soften the engine’s natural response to the accelerator, I’d welcome its placement within quick reach of the driver without having to search for it, which distracts from the driving itself. I can see the ideal place being on the steering wheel or centre console.
I don’t mind. I turn off ECO mode and enjoy the perfect engine and transmission match. Engine throttle response is quick and turbo lag is not felt at all. The gearbox shifts gently and with feeling. Engine performance is sufficient whether on the highway or off-road. Its small displacement can be felt only beyond 160 km/h, which I have admittedly only tested theoretically 🙂
Manual steering with the paddles under the steering wheel is an option. I tried them, they worked, but because of the quick response of the gearbox I had no further need to reach for them.
Driving on city roads is very enjoyable thanks to the car’s compact dimensions and the view from it. It is very agile and handling in narrow streets is not difficult given the turning circle of only 5.3m. On the not-so-quality roads of our capital city, the well-tuned chassis is in full show. It can provide a great degree of comfort and filter out all the usual road imperfections. All in the sense of transferring the impact from the chassis to the driver’s body. The worst ones, especially transverse bumps, are accompanied by a muffled thud.
When driving on county roads, the chassis gratefully shows off its sporting qualities. Sporty in an SUV context, the taller build is understandably felt, especially in corners, where the car, while gently leaning, holds its line doggedly. Hints of understeer only come relatively late, when they are imperceptibly tamed by the stabilisation system. The only time I managed to get the car into a gentle skid was in the rain in SNOW mode, when you could feel the torque transfer to the rear axle, pushing the car to the inside of the corner. At this point, I did not notice the stability control light blinking, so I attribute this “help” to the 4×4 system.
The Mitsubishi’s highway ride lands anyway. The engine revs to exactly 2,400 at the 130-mph regulation speed and is still fairly quiet. The chassis and engine are brilliantly soundproofed, with aerodynamic noise only noticeable from the side windows at speeds in excess of 130 km/h.
The steering has a downshifting effect and is pleasingly stiff on the motorway, conversely it’s very light when manoeuvring in town. At higher speeds, there is no need to correct direction and the power steering provides the same resistance in every steering wheel position. The steering feels natural in all driving modes and does not feel artificial.
I had no problems with the brakes, they are nicely proportioned and have a gradual onset.
Normally, SUVs in this category don’t get off-road, but it would be a shame not to try it in this position. It handles an ordinary dirt road with aplomb, but that’s nothing exceptional. In the field, the perfect rigidity of the body was confirmed, which did not make any unexpected sound when slowly crossing various deep potholes. The car didn’t hesitate for a second when trying to move with two wheels (either front or one side) in the mud. Likewise, going up a steep hill in some places with slippery ground in SNOW or GRAVEL mode didn’t give the car any trouble, and the torque transfer could be monitored on the dashboard display. The CVT gearbox also proved its worth in off-road mode, especially when trying to gently move over an obstacle. As I’ve already hinted, the car had three driving modes (AUTO, SNOW, GRAVEL), which can be switched between on the centre stack and which change the way the 4×4 system works, which Mitsubishi calls S-AWC on the test model. Depending on the mode selected, the system can shift torque between the front and rear wheels as follows:AUTO – from 80:20 to 55:45%, SNOW (snow) from 80:20 to 45:55%, and GRAVEL (gravel) from 70:30 to 40:60%.
If I had to sum up the Mitsubishi Eclipse cross’s driving characteristics in a few sentences, I would call them as above average in the mid-size SUV category. The chassis has dynamic to sporty capabilities, yet provides a great degree of comfort. It is backed by a rev-hungry engine superbly matched to an automatic transmission.
But if all is not ideal, there is one BUT and that is fuel consumption. The claimed figure of 7 litres in combined mode is achievable exclusively with a light foot on county roads. In the city, in normal weekday traffic, the car’s appetite climbs gently over 10 litres, and on the highway, every 100 km from the 60-litre tank drops 8-9 litres, depending on the direction and the strength of the wind. Combined, according to the on-board computer, I consumed 8.6 litres of petrol per 100km with a fine effort at economical driving.
How much or how little? Many factors affect consumption, aerodynamics, weight (1,625kg to be precise), gearbox type, the engine itself. Since the Subaru Outback, for example, with its atmospheric 2.5-litre engine with CVT gearbox and similar dynamics, also runs with similar consumption, the question is whether, despite all its good qualities, a small turbocharged petrol engine is at all suitable for an SUV.
The question is whether a small turbocharged petrol engine is suitable for an SUV.
The diesel engine is due to be added to the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross range later this year. I hope to be able to try it out and compare its fuel consumption with the otherwise excellent petrol four-cylinder.
Practicalities, assistance systems, infotainment
In testing the car, I didn’t neglect its practicality. The range of storage compartments and their size is more than adequate. The space in the front doors, under the armrest and in the glove box in front of the passenger will satisfy even demanding drivers. The boot space is ample for the length of the car and can be adjusted by moving the rear seats, ranging from 341 to 448 litres, and can be increased up to 531 litres with the manufacturer’s original kit.
There was probably no shortage of the currently common assistance system in the equipment tested. Adaptive cruise control worked seamlessly (except in ECO mode) to a standstill, which is not yet standard on other makes. I have reservations about the manually adjustable rear-view mirror visor, the driver-only side window auto-dimming, and the simpler lane-keeping assist, which has only audible and visual warnings and does not interfere with steering.
The driver-only side window assist system is not available in the driver’s seat, and the lane-keeping assist system is not available in the driver’s seat.
The infotainment setup is cluttered at first, but after flicking through all its items I got used to its logic and used it without any problems. Crucially, though, it provides strong support for Apple Car play and Android Auto. The display is touchscreen, but using the touchpad on the center console serves a similar purpose without distracting from driving.
I appreciated the excellent reception of the car radio and the dynamic and clear sound of the Rockford Fosgate audio system. Conversely, I was not happy with the quality of the Bluetooth phone connection.
Who is the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross for? In my opinion, for anyone who is willing to pay the set price of €29,990 for this model. With its practical focus, it will certainly serve as a fully-fledged family car. Also for people who want to attract attention and like exceptional design. Even to those who appreciate excellent on-road handling and off-road capability. Personally, I got very used to the car and found it hard to part with it.
Aside from the little things and with the engine tested a little more fuel efficient, the Eclipse Cross is in my opinion an excellent car that will certainly make life difficult for the competition. I look forward to the arrival of similarly tuned models from this traditional Japanese automaker.