Once a sports coupe, the 'Eclipse' has been reborn as a family SUV.
Size isn’t everything when buying a car for your young family and a number of small SUVs are taking up the fight to prove you can get what you need in a compact package.
The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross, launched here last December as part of a new generation of SUVs the Japanese car maker is adding to its line-up, is just the latest example.
the ‘Eclipse’ nameplate was previously used on a compact sports coupe, which may give some understanding as to why Mitsubishi refers to this latest offering as an SUV Coupe.
But when it comes to size, the Eclipse Cross sits comfortably between its compact ASX and mid-sized Outlander models in a crowded SUV market.
Powered by an all-new turbocharged petrol engine, the Eclipse Cross is offered in two models, the LS and Exceed. The latter comes with the option of front or all-wheel-drive, while the entry model is front wheel drive only, with a starting price of $31,990 (RRP).
Direct Advice for Dads was provided with the Exceed 2WD, which is priced at $36,000 (RRP), for testing.
Strap ’em in
The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is only the second small SUV I have tested where I can sit, in reasonable comfort, in the front passenger seat with a rear-facing baby seat set up behind me. The other is the Honda HR-V.
It is not big enough, however, for me to set the baby seat up behind the driver’s seat and still be able to drive.
When using the rear facing seat you are also likely to need to purchase an extension strap for the top tether.
The rear seat can be tilted, and with it in the upright position the strap will just reach the anchor point.
The issue with that is there is no leeway to slacken it off so it becomes another object to negotiate when getting the bub in and out of the seat, which is not ideal, given I can have enough trouble getting them in and out without adding the degree of difficulty.
Fitting forward or rear-facing seats, whether using ISOFIX points (there are two) or seat belts, is easy.
I really liked that the cargo blind is positioned a bit away from the rear seat, allowing for it to be tilted, so getting the straps down to the anchor points is easy.
It is probably the best interior of any model in the Mitsubishi line-up. The top-spec Exceed we were driving had a hard-wearing grey leather interior with a striking orange stitch that gives an otherwise dark interior a lift. I really liked it.
The seats are comfortable and finding the right driving position is made easy by the electric adjustment and reach and height adjustment on the steering wheel.
The liberal use of hard plastics, with the leather, gives it more of a utilitarian than luxurious look and feel, which is not a bad thing when you have a young family.
Interior space is a big tick and storage is also good with plenty of options for things like your phone. It also has dual cupholders front and rear and a bottle holder in each door.
One of the crosses is the lack of air vents for the back seat.
For your electronics there are two USB ports and a 12-volt power point in the front and a 12-volt power point in the back.
The rear doors open nice and wide, creating good access to the back seat, but the sloping roof line, which is part of the coupe styling, may cause some issues when it comes to getting the bub in and out of the car.
The one thing you won’t get is dirt on your clothes, thanks to the big doors that cover the side skirts.
Cargo space in the Eclipse Cross is pretty good for this category with 341-litres. It is enough room to cater for the larger size prams on the market today and still leave room for the bits and pieces you need or the weekly shopping.
The rear seats, which can be split 60:40, can be moved forward up to 200mm which will increase space to 448-litres (it is amazing how much difference that makes), and folded flat to create 1122-litres if you have a need to carry bigger articles.
The issue when you slide the seat forward is the additional space is like a completely separate area to the existing cargo space.
The rear door, with its rear spoiler, looks big and heavy but is light to lift and close. There is a space-saver spare tyre under the cargo floor.
The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is a class leader in this area with a long list of standard features that includes a multimedia interface, with seven-inch touch screen that sits on top of the dashboard, that’s compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
It can also be operated via a touchpad on the centre console. I found this a little cumbersome but feel sure it would have become more instinctive over time.
In the Exceed you also get:
- Front and rear parking sensors
- Lane departure warning
- Auto headlights with active high beam
- Rain-sensing wipers
- Head up display
- Reversing camera with 360 degree views
- Active cruise control
- Rear cross-traffic alert
- Blind spot warning
- Forward collision mitigation
Some people might not like that satellite navigation is only available through smartphone-mirroring but I think it is a better, and cheaper, option.
Euro NCAP Safety Rating: 5 Stars
The Eclipse Cross was crash tested in Europe by Euro NCAP in December 2017 and scored a strong 5 star rating.
The crash testers said: “The Eclipse Cross achieved a very high score for Adult Occupant Protection at 9 per cent – the equal second highest score in this area of assessment, and the highest in its class.
Injury risk ratings for the majority of critical body regions were rated ‘Good’. Chest protection of the rear seat passenger in the full width crash test was rated ‘Marginal’.
“The design of the front of the vehicle as well as its ability to avoid or minimise the injury risk to a pedestrian through its standard fitment of autonomous emergency braking contributed to its strong score of 80 per cent for Pedestrian Protection.”
All models come with seven airbags, Autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning and a manual set speed limiter.
The 1.5-litre turbo charged MIVEC petrol engine, which generates 110kW and maximum torque of 250Nm, is a nice, responsive unit with strong acceleration off the mark and in the mid-range.
The eight-speed CVT was smooth and did a good job of keeping the engine in the right rev range.
The steering was light and responsive and the suspension provided a comfortable ride while keeping the car nice and balanced through corners.
It is a really comfortable car to drive in the urban environment providing a quiet and relaxed feel, but it does not mind being pushed a bit either for those times you want a slightly more sporty drive.
While calling its performance sporty would be a bit of an overstatement, it is one of the better models in that regard for its class.
During the test period we used 9.0L/100km which is just over a litre per 100km more than the official figure.
While it is not the most frugal model in the class it does use standard unleaded petrol which helps reduce the cost.
The wife’s take
Looking at the design of the Eclipse Cross there were only two things I really liked, the colour and the mags.
Overall, the design is a bit chunky for me. The interior, however, was very smart. I liked the orange stitching on the upholstery and the dash was nice and easy to read.
The infotainment system was intuitive and easy to use. This car had a lot of safety features and it took me a while to get used to using some of them.
I did have some issues with visibility because of the big spoiler on the rear tailgate and the wide A-pillars.
I really liked the reversing camera which had lots of extra features like side view that made reversing and parking easier.
On the dash, right above the steering wheel, is a small glass pop up panel that displays your current speed (the ‘Heads Up Display’).
In terms of making you very aware of your speed it was great. However, I found it a bit annoying after a while and turned it off.
“Looking at the design of the Eclipse Cross there were only two things I really liked, the colour and the mags.”
This is a nice package that ticks most of the important boxes for young families in regards to safety, space and technology.
The Exceed model we tested doesn’t compete in the budget part of the segment but is well priced up against its closest competitors.
I don’t particularly like the exterior styling of the Eclipse Cross but that is a personal thing and certainly not a criticism.
I found it an enjoyable car to drive, though the rear spoiler does create a bit of “messy” view in the rear view mirror. It was hard to come up with any issues that would cause me to take it off the shopping list.
I have identified these two as the closest rivals because they both offer similar space as the Eclipse Cross.
Honda HR-V VTi-LX 2WD
Price: $34,590 RRP
Engine/Transmission: 1.8-litre (105kW/172Nm) with Continuously Variable automatic transmission.
Offers similar interior space and features as the Eclipse Cross. While they use quite different engines, they again, arrive at a similar place in terms of power but the Honda does not feel as responsive to drive. They are both good packages, difficult to separate.
Nissan Qashqai Ti 2WD
Price: $37,990 RRP
Engine/Transmission: 2.0-litre (106kW/200Nm) with Continuously Variable automatic transmission.
In my mind, the best looking of the trio but falls slightly behind in the technology race with no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto available. It is also the smallest of the trio, just, but still offers reasonable interior space. It rides well but performance probably slightly behind the Eclipse Cross.
- Price: $36,000 RRP
- Warranty: Five year, 100,000km.
- Servicing: 15,000km or 12 month intervals with capped price for the first three years.
- Fuel Consumption: (official) 7.3L/100km (on test) 9.0L/100km. Standard Unleaded
- Engine: 1.5-litre MIVEC direct-injection turbo petrol
- Power: 110kW/250Nm
- Transmission: Continuously Variable automatic
- Visit HBF for a tailored insurance quote
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