As a long-time Qashqai driver I associate SUVs with safe, sensible and slow cars perfect for doing the school run and driving long distances; they are practical, comfortable and affordable which is why they are the UK’s bestseller in the small SUV market.
With an ever-increasing demand for small and affordable SUVs, Mitsubishi is pinning hopes on the new Eclipse Cross as a more ‘exclusive’ alternative so it’s launching with the 4×4 automatic Eclipse Cross 4, finished in Bronze, with black leather interior and 18″ alloy wheels and 250 First Edition Eclipse Cross 6-speed manuals, finished in Diamond Red, 18″ alloy wheels and exclusive ‘First Edition’ styling.
Currently, there is only one engine offered, a newly developed ‘4B40’ 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine because of the dramatic slowdown in demand for diesels.
Eclipse Cross looks much bigger than the Qashqai yet it’s only slightly larger in overall length and fractionally smaller in width. The aggressive styling is far more appealing to the younger market, with its oversized front grille, muscular sides and distinctive sloping roofline and the split rear screen with LED lighting is ‘edgy’ and surprisingly doesn’t hinder vision from inside. The boot is much smaller than the Qashqai even with the rear seat sliding adjustment but it takes four golf bags.
Narrow doorsills allow you to enter and exit the car without getting your trousers or legs dirty and inside, you can feel the car wrap around and cwtch you. Space is good throughout, the seats moderately comfortable and the slim soft touch steering wheel not over-cluttered with controls. Large manual-shift paddles come in the automatic, there’re clear instruments and piano-black trim adds a touch of class, interspersed with silver plastic making the interior lighter than in the Qashqai. The central 7” touch-screen infotainment system is standard with a DAB radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but sadly no built-in sat-nav so smartphone users must download a navigation app, which is limited if you have no signal and not enough data!
The touchpad in the centre console can also be used to control the system, but the location of the handbrake is awkwardly close to the driver seat, and restricts access to the touchpad controller. Overall, I prefer the built in system of the Qashqai as I find it more user-friendly.
Acceleration between 0-62mph ranges from 9.3 seconds in the automatic 2WD, the 4WD is 9.8 seconds, to 10.3 seconds in the 2WD manual and a maximum speed of 127mph.
There was slight lag from standstill but performance and handling through urban and country lanes was good, brakes were responsive and ride was comfortable. The panoramic roof, head-up display and premium Rockford 9 speaker system added to my driving experience.
The entry-level 163bhp Eclipse Cross 2 manual starts at £21,275, increasing to £27,900 for those wanting the higher spec automatic Eclipse 4, while for First Edition there are only two options available, manual at £26,825 or 4WD auto at £29,750.
It’s the first car Mitsubishi has released in Europe before Japan and testament to their determination to become an SUV specialist, but we’ll have to wait and see if it becomes a family favourite.