Putting them in the shade

by Andy Bryenton

Mitsubishi have brought back a name from the past and given it a whole new lease of life as they resurrect the Eclipse badge — but not in the way you would expect. Their new Eclipse Cross is a departure from convention in another way, as the masters of the four-wheel-drive off-road racer — the mighty Evo series — step back onto the pavement with a true crossover compact SUV.

Those who remember the old Eclipse — a car sold mainly in the US market, but popularised in video games thanks to its street tuner appeal at the time — will hardly recognise the Eclipse Cross, which does away with that rounded 1990s shape to embrace an aggressive, angular and forward-looking style. In a market full of small SUV crossovers, this somewhat radical treatment makes it stand out, and Mitsubishi designers have taken the same route as their fellow countrymen did with the Toyota CH-R — make it look wild and interesting, polarise opinion, but at least stand out from the pack. 

They’ve succeeded, with the same sporty, sharp-edged aesthetic sweeping from grille to tail lights. And don’t worry about that window-splitting rear bar — unlike on certain other vehicles it doesn’t destroy your ability to see where you’re reversing. And that’s not just because a reversing camera makes turning your head obsolete.

Safety features and smart technology abound on this new Mitsubishi, including a full suite of traffic safety assists to keep you in your lane and a safe distance from other road users, even in poor conditions. The addition of a touch pad with which to control the infotainment system is a nice touch — pun intended — meaning that you need not reach across the cabin to adjust items on the dash.

But all this functionality and comfortable seating for a family of five is the gold standard for crossover SUVs in the compact bracket. Mitsubishi have focussed in on providing something some of those other manufacturers have missed out on, however — a smooth ride, assisted by a small but punchy motor.

Here we’re talking 112kw and 254nm of torque — not the immense figures they once extracted from the 2 litre Evo mill. But it’s a bit of fuel-saving realism from the triple diamond brand, however, as they acknowledge that the crossover SUV is really, for most, an evolution of the station wagon concept. By adding a 1.5 litre turbocharged MIVEC engine under the hood they’ve given the Eclipse Cross a bit of pep to make it engaging to drive, and that’s the factor, which backs up its bold styling.