Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross 1.5 4WD CVT: Brand New Design

Doesn’t look like a Mitsubishi, eh?

A new design chief arrived when this project was starting off three years ago. This year, Nissan bailed out Mitsubishi Motors by taking a significant shareholding. So although on the surface it’s the first to wear a new Mitsubishi design language, underneath it’s one of the last “pure” Mitsubishis. In future they’ll use Nissan- Renault platforms.

Replacing the ASX or Outlander?

Neither. It squeezes between them in size, on point for what the industry calls the Qashqai market. Family-friendly then. And still with decent Mitsubishi off-road chops.

Does it drive like, oh, an Evo 10, or like another boring crossover?

The new 1.5-litre turbo petrol smears its torque over a wide range. It sings sweetly beyond 5,000rpm, but at 4,000rpm, which you use a lot, it drones. A CVT transmission is mandatory with 4WD. It’s sane and smooth at light throttle in town. Don’t be fooled. As they all are, elsewhere its auto mode is ghastly: unpredictable and acoustically irksome. Better to use the paddles to select between preset ratios.

The steering is slushily weighted around the straightahead, so it’s easy to drift out of your lane. If you’ve left the CVT in auto there’s no engine braking so at your first corner you’ll be going too fast, yanking the wheel, rolling onto the outside front tyre then flooring it at the exit and getting a tardy, lurchy response.

But guess what? Hold a ratio on the paddles, turn in smoothly and you can feel the AWD system shuffling effort to the tyres that can use it, the chassis and steering feel sweet, and the balance is fine. It’s a striking dissonance between soggy initial impression and well-resolved actual core.

Drive like that and your kids will be sick. Is it comfy?

The ride’s pliant enough. The Eclipse Cross has an Outlander wheelbase, so masses of back-seat legroom. Then you notice the boot’s small. Ah, but you can remedy that by sliding those rear seats forward. It cruises through the air quietly too.

More tacky Mitsubishi cabin plastic?

It’s a step up from their previous stuff. The quality and visual design are well up to par for an Asian-brand crossover, though some switchgear is bafflingly scattered.

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