The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross, in front wheel-drive manual form, offers a lower cost SUV ownership option than the all-wheel drive CVT version – so should you consider it?
We’ve already driven the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross in all-wheel drive CVT form on the model’s UK launch. If instead you’d prefer a front-wheel drive, manual version, then read on…
Visually the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross looks similar to the Outlander from the front, but rather than the traditional SUV estate body style at the rear, the Eclipse Cross has a coupe-like profile.
The interior also has some visual similarities with the Outlander, but is mostly new, and aims to push the quality upmarket.
There’s only one engine available, an all-new Mitsubishi-developed 1.5-litre turbo petrol. All-wheel drive models come with a CVT transmission, but the model tested here has front-wheel drive and a manual 6-speed transmission.
Living with the car for a week enables you to discover features that you don’t have time to play with on a short launch drive, such as the ability for the rear seats to slide forwards and backwards – to give more rear legroom, or more boot space. Although if you do slide the seats forward, you end up with a rather large gap between the boot floor and the rear seats.
The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross looks like it should offer a sporty driving experience. The engine feels revvy, and the Eclipse Cross is reasonably enjoyable on twisty B-roads.
However with a chassis that’s designed to be capable off-road (even though this model only has front-wheel drive) and the 1.5-litre petrol engine with manual transmission, in a car weighing almost one and a half tonnes, and with a high centre of gravity, the Eclipse Cross doesn’t live up to the sporty promise. The CVT transmission in the all-wheel drive model tested on the launch event isn’t perfect, but it’s certainly preferable to the 6-speed manual ‘box, which was particularly obstructive when trying to select second gear.
If you do venture onto rough tracks with this car, then you’ll discover that the secondary ride isn’t particularly comfortable. There are no drive mode settings, but there is an ‘Eco’ mode button.
The dashboard shares an overall design likeness with the Outlander, but it does feel more ‘premium’. However an interesting decision is not to offer the Eclipse Cross with satnav – although you can view your GPS location on the screen (we’re not sure how useful that is). Mitsubishi claims that most owners will have smart phones, so you can connect your phone to the infomedia system to use Google maps for navigation. In practice, having to connect a smartphone with a USB lead every time you drive anywhere isn’t as convenient as having a satnav system. In fact the overall infomedia system isn’t as good as most rivals.
The Eclipse Cross can also be rather over-keen to warn you that you’re going to crash into parked cars when driving in built-up areas.
The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross 4 Petrol Manual has an official combined NEDC fuel economy figure of 42.8 mpg, equating to 151g/km CO2 emissions. This compares to 40.4mpg and 159g/km CO2 for the all-wheel drive CVT model, so there’s not much efficiency benefit from ditching the all-wheel drive capability and CVT.
Although we achieved 43.0 mpg at 70mph on the motorway, after a week of mixed driving we averaged 30.1 mpg. This is the result of a relatively heavy vehicle and a not particularly aerodynamic body with a small capacity petrol engine in real-world driving.
The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross comes with just one engine choice, the 1.5-litre turbo petrol. This is available with the CVT transmission in front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive models, and with manual transmission in front-wheel drive models only. Trim levels are 2, 3, 4 and First Edition – all spec levels offer the option of AWD apart from ‘2’ trim. Pricing starts from £21,275 for the Eclipse Cross 2 Manual, rising to £29,750 for the Eclipse Cross First Edition 4WD Auto. This Eclipse Cross 4 Manual model as tested costs £24,975, representing a £5,000 saving on the First Edition 4WD Auto.
The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross looks like it should offer a sporty driving experience, but it doesn’t feel light on its feet, the engine doesn’t offer much performance, and it’s not that economical. It also doesn’t sit at the premium end of the market in terms of quality and refinement.
Our view is that if you’re offering an SUV, which is engineered with off-road ability, then it’s pointless ‘disconnecting’ the all-wheel drive capability. You’ve still got the bulk and weight of an SUV, but not the ability. The difference in fuel economy and emissions between the AWD and FWD models are minimal, so we’d recommend going for the AWD model. And the CVT is preferable to the manual ‘box.
So in a very crowded sector, the Eclipse Cross struggles for a unique selling point. This could have been provided by offering the same plug-in hybrid powertrain as the Outlander, which would have delivered more performance, better economy and the potential for zero emissions, but that’s not an option.
A plug-in hybrid may not be the most economical powertrain in real-world driving for many people if they’re driving long distances (and it’s heavier and more costly), but as our six-month test of the Outlander PHEV showed, if driven on battery power for as much time as possible, it can offer decent economy, lower emissions, and cheaper running costs. So, in petrol, manual and front-wheel drive form, the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is awarded a Green Car Guide rating of 6 out of 10. If your driving patterns are suitable, we’d recommend considering stretching the budget to an Outlander PHEV, at least you can then drive with zero tailpipe emissions on journeys up to around 30 miles – and you’ve got more space and all-wheel drive capability.