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Driving impression: Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross FWD





26 February 2019


It’s fair to say that Mitsubishi South Africa has had a slow few years, with only the Pajero Sport counting as an “all-new” model for at least three years.

The mighty Pajero continues to soldier on thanks to a niche, loyal fanbase, while the ASX provides a decent entry into affordable crossover ownership. Thing is, a car company can’t remain stagnant for too long. Consumers have a short attention span, which is particularly relevant if you play in a field that some already accuse of being overcrowded.

Enter the all-new Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross. Well, new to South Africa. Abroad it has been available since early 2018, which makes it new enough in our books.

The Eclipse Cross arrives in South Africa with some nomenclature baggage. First to fourth generation Eclipses were all sporty vehicles, which featured prominently in the Fast & Furious franchise.

That Eclipse no longer exists. This new Eclipse isn’t even built in the same country, nor is it the same sort of car. It’s Mitsubishi taking its most famous badges and placing them on what the public demands these days. In other words, don’t expect a fast and furious performer. A high seating position is the new ten second quarter mile. If Paul Walker and Vin Diesel made their movie in this decade, they’d be bragging about how much ground clearance their cars have.

If it’s speed you’re after, best look somewhere else. The Eclipse Cross is powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol (110kW and 198Nm), mated to a CVT gearbox with six-step sport mode. You can also take control via a set of rather handsome paddles mounted behind the steering wheel.

As mentioned previously, it’s not fast, nor is it slow. It’s perfectly adequate, as is the CVT gearbox. Like the Renault Koleos we drove last week, the CVT gearbox quickly fades into the background as you drive along at a relaxed pace. Which is exactly what you want in this sort of car. Maximum comfort for minimum effort. And besides, a 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol is coming later in the year if you do prefer a bit more power.

From behind the wheel it’s logical car. The buttons are easily within reach and it’s easy to operate the standard touch-screen interface. It’s also equipped with all the modern gizmos and gadgets, include Apple Carplay, Android Auto and navigation.

Mitsubishi also gives you a lot of other equipment at the price. We drove the entry-level front-wheel drive model and it had everything you could reasonably expect, and more – leather heated seats, controls on the steering wheel, climate control, keyless entry and a reverse camera. At R399 995, it represents amazing value for money. The all-wheel drive model offers the same kit, but retails for just shy of R450 000, or more or less what you’d pay for a mid-grade Renault Koleos with front-wheel drive only. And we already reckon the Koleos is a bit of a bargain…

The handling on gravel was impressive. The suspension is perfectly fine with washboard gravel and the car felt stable at all times. We didn’t spend a lot of time with the all-wheel drive model, but we can tell you that the front-wheel drive already offers 90% of the off-road ability most mid-size SUV owners would ever need.

We hope to get a 4×4 on test shortly so we can see how the engine copes at Gauteng altitude and how much fuel it consumes. The trip computer claimed an average fuel consumption of 11.2 litres/100km. Mitsubishi claims less than that, but we’ll get an accurate figure on our standard test route.

It’s a likeable offering and we find ourselves happy that Mitsubishi finally launched something new again. And the Eclipse Cross is just the beginning. There are a few more models in the pipeline, including the rather handsome facelifted Triton.

At the end of the day we only had two gripes with the car. The view from the rear is obscured by the styling and the GPS tannie gets extremely upset if you go over the speed limit, even by just 1km/h. Luckily, the infotainment is easy enough to navigate, so you can shut her off within seconds.

So, the all-new Eclipse Cross: not as interesting or fast as the old Eclipse and it won’t do a quarter mile in ten seconds, but definitely worth a look if you’re in the market for a mid-size SUV.

Pricing:

Eclipse Cross 2.0L CVT 4×2   R399 995

Eclipse Cross 2.0L CVT AWD R449 995

Both models are covered by Mitsubishi’s Manufacturer’s Warranty of 3 years or 100 000km, a 5-year / 90 000 km Service Plan and a

5-year / unlimited mileage Roadside Assistance.

Service intervals are every 15 000 km.