Test all limits in the Nissan Navara
Test all limits in the Nissan Navara

A different Offering

The C-segment crossover SUV segment is undoubtedly the most popular one in the South African automotive landscape. As a result, one can feel a tad overwhelmed with all on offer. Some that might come to mind are the Toyota Corolla Cross, the Hyundai Grand Creta and the Kia Seltos. And let’s not forget Volkswagen’s modern T-ROC or the Nissan Quashqai. Anton Willemse Jnr got behind the wheel of an underrated contender (although one of the first to be launched in this segment back in 2019) – the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross.

If you’re a Fast and Furious fan, you’ll probably recognise the Eclipse nomenclature. It is that sexy green coupé driven by the movie’s protagonist, Brian (which he then blows up after its first race). The cameo of the Eclipse in this action movie may have been short-lived, but it did cement it as a proper enthusiast’s car in the years to come.

Now, with the Eclipse Cross, Mitsubishi has revived this legendary name. However, it isn’t a sexy sports coupé but rather a sensible family crossover SUV. As a result, many people myself included, wrote it off as just a large corporation trying to trick us into making a nostalgic purchase rather than producing a suitable product. Well, I’ll be the first to admit that I was wrong. The Eclipse Cross doesn’t deserve the hate it got when it was first introduced. Yes, it’s not the sexy coupé the Eclipse was, but it’s still a sizzling SUV and has its own appeal.

The first few years of the Eclipse’s lifespan was not easy. Apart from the fact that most were disappointed with the revival of this legendary nameplate, the product it was attached to was a bit underwhelming, mainly because of some strange design choices and an underpowered powertrain. Thankfully it received a well-deserved facelift towards the end of 2021, and we were thrilled to give it a try.

Styling

The front-end didn’t receive much of an update – having said that, the front was the best bit of the first-generation and it aged well. Mitsubishi subtly slimmed down the upper daytime running lights (DRLs) elements to give it a sleeker look and introduced a few chrome accents to provide a more refined and high-end look. The result is a front-end that looks current and modern, keeping it on par with the competition.

The side profile and rear, however, received some noteworthy updates. First of all, gone is the weird split window. Mitsubishi has instead extended the rear tailgate to make it 140mm longer than the pre-facelift model and rounded the rear a bit to give the shape of a more conventional SUV as opposed to the initial Coupé/SUV design, which made the Eclipse Cross look like an overweight race car. Instead, now it looks much more the part as serious SUV contender – in fact, I think it is one of the more attractive crossover SUVs on the market, reminiscent of the ASX design (which I simply adore).

Interior and tech

Mitsubishi’s interiors of late felt rushed and unrefined and, dare I say, even a bit cheap at times. So, you can imagine my surprise when I got into the Eclipse Cross. The quality and craftsmanship are superb, and the interior is neat and modern. There is a good blend of chrome accents and metallic black, which gives it a quality high-end feel. Amping up the opulent feeling, the model I sampled also had leather seats and a leather-cladded steering wheel, as well as leather on the door wells. The Eclipse has an analogue instrument cluster with a digital centre display, perfect for my analogue preference. While some people may find this a bit outdated, the Eclipse does have a heads-up display for those who prefer to get their speed digitally. The improved body also improved the cabin space, or rather increased the load volume. The 437-litre boot can expand into 1 074 litres when the rear seats are folded forward.

From a comfort perspective, the Eclipse Cross has electric adjustments for both the driver and passenger and the infotainment system is miles ahead of its predecessor. The outgoing Eclipse Cross had an awful infotainment system, nestled into the dash at a rather awkward angle and everything but user-friendly. The new infotainment sits more upright and is much more userfriendly, including a few handy buttons and two dials. However, the software isn’t great – it has a bit of input lag, and the interface is sometimes confusing. Luckily the Eclipse Cross does have wired AppleCarplay and AndroidAuto.

Performance

The first-generation pre-facelift Eclipse Cross was available with only a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated engine, only producing 110kW of power and 198Nm for a car that tips the scale at 1 472kg. It’s safe to say that it was a bit lacking in the torque department. Luckily, Mitsubishi remedied the issue with the 1.5-turbocharged four-cylinder engine with the same power output of 110kW, but an improved torque of 250Nm. This might seem like a slight improvement, but it truly pays dividends where it counts, and I had a blast in the 1.5-litre Turbo GLS CVT we sampled.

This 1.5 four-cylinder turbocharged engine drives the power to the front wheels via a CVT gearbox which is actually really good, especially when comparing it to some of the others on the market. With that being said, it is still a CVT which means it is not as smooth as a conventional automatic gearbox. Still, it gets the power down quite nicely, and it does well for day-to-day usage. With regards to fuel economy, Mitsubishi reports a figure of 7.7 litres/100km for the 1.5 Turbo and 7.9 litres /100km on its 2-litre GLS. During our test period – which included mainly urban driving as well as some highway travel – I got real-life figures close between 7.9 – 8.3 litres/100km (in the Turbo).

As for safety, the Eclipse Cross is packed with safety features. Mitsubishi prides itself on creating safe vehicles, and the Eclipse Cross is no exception. Your Eclipse will always be available with seven airbags, side-impact protection bars, ISOFIX child seat anchors, ABS with EBD and Brake Assist (BAS). The driver benefits from Active Yaw Control and Hill Start Assist; as well as an Active Stability and Traction Control (ASCT) – all helping to keep the Eclipse Cross upright and headed in the right direction. All of this is contained in Mitsubishi’s RISE (Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution) architecture which was designed for occupant safety.

Final Verdict

After spending time with the new Eclipse Cross, I feel sad for this rather impressive crossover having to carry the burden of a lessthan- stellar debut model. It isn’t anything like its predecessor, but many potential buyers will disregard it because of that heritage. It’s no race car and it’s not going to be praised by enthusiasts and tuners. If you expect that, I’m sorry – the Eclipse Cross is not the car for you. However, if you’re a sensible family man looking for a safe, practical crossover with good ground clearance and decent performance, this should definitely be on your shopping list!

Model line-up & Pricing

• 2.0L GLS CVT 4×2: R471 995

• 1.5L Turbo GLS CVT 4×4: R511 995

*Pricing includes a 3-year/100 000km warranty, 5-year/ 90 000km service plan and 5-year/unlimited kilometre

roadside assistance.

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