For many people, a large SUV like the Mitsubishi Outlander is overkill for their needs.
But that doesn’t stop them from feeling like they want one, so it’s no surprise that the hottest ticket in town is what analyst-types have dubbed the B-segment SUV – thankfully, the world has stopped calling them crossovers, because no-one knew what that meant.
Arriving in time to capitalise on a predicted doubling of the market over the next couple of years is the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross, and it bears a strong family resemblance in the use of what Mitsubishi calls its Dynamic Shield, joined by what appear to be the world’s largest fog-lights (the top half is actually the indicators).
The rear styling is equally striking, with a steeply raked tailgate and a split rear window, divided by a horizontal spoiler with integrated high-level brake light that, inevitably, places a restriction on rearward vision. We do like the way the rear wiper is cunningly tucked under the roof spoiler, though.
There’s a similar theme in the cabin with its stepped dashboard, and while the silver accents add an appealing touch of contrast, the high sides of the centre console do eat into knee-room for taller occupants.
Chunky seats offer good support and a wide range of adjustment, yet despite being physically larger than rivals such as the Kia Stonic, rear headroom and cargo space are both only adequate.
The head-up display is a welcome addition, although the controls for it (and a number of other functions) are secreted away by your right knee where they are obscured from view.
Despite the touch-screen perched atop the dashboard, none of the Eclipse models feature a navigation system. Mitsubishi argues (perfectly reasonably) that most people prefer their smartphone apps, so has elected to offer both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as standard instead.
We did, however, notice an issue where Siri responses weren’t piped through the car’s speakers, rendering them all but inaudible once on the move.
As the touch-screen can be a bit of a stretch to reach, Mitsubishi provides a trackpad by the gear-lever as an alternative form of input, although we found it required too much hand/eye co-ordination to use safely while driving.
For the most part, the Eclipse rides well, its suspension clearly having been (quite rightly) tuned for comfort more than outright handling. While that means body-roll features heavily on the agenda during enthusiastic cornering – as does a tendency to rebound over larger undulations, hinting at a somewhat under-damped front end – there’s still an appealing air of affability and assurance to the way the Eclipse makes its way down the road that is likely to earn it more than a few friends.
For now, power comes from a 1.5-litre petrol engine with 163ps, mated to a six-speed manual with a pleasant shift action.
It’s refined at town speeds, and barely audible at idle, but the calm demeanour is somewhat spoiled by the over-sensitive and inconsistent throttle response that makes pulling away smoothly something of an art we never seemed to master. It also surges at speed, at times delivering a sensation akin to a misfire while attempting to maintain headway on steep hills.
A CVT auto is available that may smooth much of that out, and is the only option if you want all-wheel-drive, while a 2.2-litre diesel with a new eight-speed auto will follow later.
Prices start at £21,275 for the entry-level ‘2’ grade – there is no ‘1’ – while our ‘4’ manual 2WD test car with its heated seats, head-up display, panoramic sunroof, blind spot warning, 360-degree camera and other safety goodies came in at £25,515. Add the best part of £3,000 to that to gain AWD.
There’s certainly a lot to like in what’s likely to be Mitsubishi’s last self-developed car before being subsumed into the Renault-Nissan empire, not the least of which is the company’s wilful desire to do things just a little bit differently.
- Respectable performance from modest 1.5-litre capacity.
- Six-speed manual changes smoothly.
- Somewhat over-sensitive, lumpy and inconsistent throttle response makes it hard to pull away smoothly, surges at speed.
- Silver trim on floor console eats into legroom for tall drivers.
- No nav function, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto standard on all models. Siri response not routed through vehicle’s speakers.
- Touchpad a neat idea, but requires too much hand/eye co-ordination to use on the move.
- No USB port in central storage bin.
- Split rear window does, of course, obscure rearward vision a touch.
- Some switchgear hard to see, mounted behind and below steering wheel.
- Rides well; plenty of body roll; under-damped at the front.
- Admirable wind noise isolation.
- 37.9 mpg on test.
|Entry-level Price||£21,275||Price as tested||£25,515|
|Engine||1499cc 4-cyl turbo petrol||Transmission||6-speed manual|
|Power||163ps @ 5,500rpm||Torque||250Nm @ 1,800-4,500rpm|
|0-60||10.3 secs||Top speed||127 mph|
|Economy||42.8 mpg||CO2||151 g/km|
|Dimensions||4405 x 1805 x 1685 (LxWxH)||Kerb Weight||1455 kg|