Competent Mitsubishi’s Eclipse Cross is a dark horse in Singapore’s small crossover/SUV race for 2018
While SUVS/crossovers have proliferated into every stratum of car buying, the true sales titans of the crossover era (circa 2015-present) have naturally been those of small price and stature. Individual model registration figures are no longer published, sadly, but it’s of little doubt that cars like the Toyota C-HR, Honda HR-V, Nissan Qashqai are still leading sales charts.
Mitsubishi is having a good run: With the latest addition to the range, three of its five models are of the soft-roading bent. Good too, since its since-forever staple the Lancer has died a Euro VI induced death, and lest we forget, it was only in 2014 that Mitsubishi returned to the scene, having been functionally-absent in the car market since 2010 due to massively high COE prices.
But the brand’s had amazing progress, going from a mere 39 units registered in 2013 to 3,553 last year, and this car here could boost that figure further.
The Eclipse Cross fits above the ASX (small-ish SUV) and below the Outlander (not so small-ish seven seat SUV), and it’s a key competitor to the now-usual small cross suspects.
Some might recognise the ‘Eclipse’ name from Mitsubishi coupe of old, but given that car never generated anything near the excitement of the Lancer Evolution or GTO, there’s safely no backlash from pitchfork-waving enthusiasts demanding blood and/or horsepower.
Still, brands know it’s well worth injecting any semblance of coupe-ness into a crossover nowadays, so the Eclipse Cross has a distinctly more perk in its rear end than its brothers. It’s more European almost, resembling an XC40 more than the C-HR, and indeed it’s a Japanese-made car with the rarity of having a left-mounted signal stalk.
It may look very different, and smaller, than the Outlander, but it actually shares its platform and wheelbase with its brother. Typically a nice design spells for compromised space, but the car retains a surprising amount of room.
Not having to deal with a third-row of seats improves things to no end for the Eclipse, as it’ll swallow 341-litres of cargo not a huge amount, but it’s expandable to 448-litres if you slide the rear seats forward – and it has more than enough room for five adults.
What’s even better is that the split-window style tailgate (like a Toyota Prius) makes rearward vision good, likewise forward visibility isn’t compromised like it is on so many modern crossovers.
The interior is classic Mitsubishi – built to a cost, but much nicer than its price tag might suggest, and with plenty of features too. There’s lots of plastic but it’s all solidly put together and colliding with the interior results in your bruising rather than the car’s.
What really impresses are the HUD, seven airbags and automatic collision mitigation (Mitsubishi calls its version the ‘Forward Collision Mitigation System’), typically things you’d only find on more expensive cars. Toyota C-HR has a more comprehensive set, though, but lacks a sunroof. The Eclipse Cross has two, as shown, though it’s a cost option at $3,000.
It drives well, too. The ride quality strikes a good middle ground between over-cross crashy and too lazy, and overall it’s quite comfy, even if the worst kind of roads will eventually unsettle it. The steering is its weakest point, with the electric steering system feeling lifeless, but it’s something other inexpensive sedans and crossovers are equally guilty of.
On the bright side, there’s plenty of perk, because there’s another surprise beneath the bonnet : A 1.5-litre turbocharged inline-four cylinder engine, Mitsubishi’s first since the Lancer Evo, though this is decidedly ‘eco’ rather than ‘Evo’
It does suffer from CVT drone and a little bluntness, but the 162up and 250Nm of torque overcome that to deliver thrust when really needed. Notably, the Eclipse Cross has more power than its competitors, and its 0-100km/h time is sprightly too. It’s less than stellar when it comes to efficiency, but not outstandingly so, we averaged mid-sevens in litres per 100km, despite quite a few highway runs.
Overall, the Eclipse Cross has plenty going for it: The right sort of look, a lot of practicality, features and safety, and most importantly, a competitive price tag – $119k which puts its bang in the exact C-HR’s ballpark. While the C-HR is the only competitor with a turbo, the Nissan Qashqai has a lot of features too, and more safety this time around, while the HR-V will shortly be receiving a facelift and no doubt, an even stronger feature set too. Competition is only going to get fiercer too, with the additions of the Hyundai Kona, Kia Stonic.
The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross creeps into the small crossover race as a dark horse, but given its features, it won’t get eclipsed by the competition.
Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross 1.5T S/R
Engine 1,499cc, inline 4, turbocharged
Power 163hp at 5500rpm
Torque 250Nm at 1800-4500rpm
Top Speed 200km/h
0-100km/h 9.3 seconds
Fuel efficiency 6.7L/100km
VES B Neutral
Price $122.999 with COE
Agent Cycle & Carriage
Also Consider: Honda HR-V, Toyota C-HR, Nissan Qashqai
Verdict: The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross won’t eclipse the very strong competition, but has a decent shine all its own and should perform well in Singapore