[This article was first published on carbuyer.com.sg]
Mitsubishi’s crossover SUV gets a tech and visual upgrade, but is it enough to help it stay competitive in the face of hybrid-this and electric-that everywhere?
The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross first arrived in Singapore in 2018, when the whole ‘now trending’ thing was just starting to move towards urban SUVs with coupe-like side profiles. The idea was of course, you can drive a sporty looking car that still works for driving your family around. In Singapore where the general populace seem to think that the stuff you can visually see matters over the horsepower that you can’t see, it seemed to be a no-brainer.
It’s done decent business over the last four years, and here we have the facelifted, new version of the Eclipse Cross that brings the car’s design up to date with the rest of Mitsubishi’s current offerings. As always, read our news story to get up to speed on things before proceeding.
The engine is carried over unchanged though, so it’s still the 1.5-litre, turbocharged four-cylinder from the 2018 launch model. It’s a decently punchy workhorse with a maximum output of 163 horsepower, mated to a continuously variable transmission driving the front wheels. There are no green credentials on the new Eclipse Cross however, which blunts its edge a little during this time when every government body seems to be pushing for some form of electrification in the vehicles sold here.
Fuel economy is rated at 6.9l/100km, which is about average for a non-hybrid car of this size. In real world urban use however, expect to get only around 7.5l/100km. The good news is that the car’s VES rating clocks in within the neutral B zone, so it’s still quite a clean burning engine and doesn’t invite any additional surcharges that would have pushed the car’s price up.
The car’s exterior differs from the previous version primarily in the amount of additional chrome trim that’s been tacked on. Mitsubishi calls the front end design the Dynamic Shield Grille, which really is a fancy hourglass shape formed by curved chrome trims flanking the front air intake. It’s identical to the design on the nose of the Mitsubishi Attrage.
More chrome can be found outlining the side windows, and the rear end has been subtly resculpted with more angular lines. The new, single-piece rear window and redesigned hatch allow for a little bit more luggage space, now measuring in at 405 litres.
Car design really does go around in circles. When you look back, the 1960s and 70s were all about chrome trim to bring out the bling factor, then the 1980s and 1990s trended black plastic and vinyl for the clean and supposedly ‘modern’ tidy look.
We’re into the 2020s, and chrome is now back in fashion on many car designs.
The coupe-SUV silhouette is typically about sloping roof lines, and in the Eclipse Cross this is done partially with an optical illusion. The roof doesn’t so much slope down as the rear window slopes up to meet it. This allows the car to not compromise on rear seat headroom.
It’s still a pleasant car to drive and the ride character feels unchanged from the 2018 launch edition. This means that it’s planted at speed, exudes confidence in corners, and there is little to complain about both as a driver and passenger. It’s not fast, but can easily keep pace with traffic.The rear bench reclines too, for more passenger comfort at the cost of a tiny amount of boot space reduction. An air-con vent for the backseats would have been nice to have though.
The pricier Style variant driven here costs an extra S$6k over the base model, and includes metal paddle shifters that give eight forward gear ratios to the CVT, factory-fitted leather seats, driver’s powered seat adjustment, dual-zone air conditioning, electric retractable side mirrors, fog lamps., and multi around parking monitor.
The Style variant adds a new eight-inch Smartphone-link Display Audio (SDA) system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. There’s a more subtle update: the touchscreen has been moved two inches closer to the driver, with volume and tuning knobs replacing the fiddly centre console touchpad in the first-generation model.
The instrument cluster is still old-school though, with analog dials flanking a small screen in the centre. At least there are multiple USB ports in the car, including one at the rear.
The good news here is that you can pay for the cheaper variant and still get the Eclipse Cross’ full suite of safety equipment. This includes seven airbags, active stability control, tyre pressure monitoring, emergency stop signal and hill start assist.
The car’s biggest hurdle at this point in automotive history as a new model is that it’s not even a mild hybrid, which could blunt sales somewhat. Most customers walking into the showroom looking for a family car these days will inevitably ask that question, with fuel prices going the way they are.
As for the competition, the Kia Seltos feels more high tech internally, while the smaller Toyota Yaris Cross Hybrid and Hyundai Kona Hybrid are viable options if a smaller, more efficient car is on the cards.
Yet if the swoopy coupe-SUV thing is what you’re after, the Eclipse Cross is alone in this mainstream price segment and you do get a lot of car for the money. The whole coupe-SUV design trend really started with BMW’s X6, now into its third-generation, and the now-forgotten Ssangyong Actyon way back in 2006. Premium luxury models like the Audi RS Q3 Sportback are plenty, but for something of this style, size, and under S$150k, the Eclipse Cross stands alone.
Book a test drive to experience the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross now!