DRIVEN: New Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

Models feature proven 2.0-litre petrol engine paired with CVT gearbox.

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see (a deliberate play on words, as it is hard to see when the lights keep getting switched off) that South Africa is facing some challenging times right now and most certainly into the near future in the run up to and including the elections in May.

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Who knows what will happen after this? I hope some peace and stability is restored for everybody in this country of ours, along with the power.

But this is not a political page, although politics most certainly affect the motor industry I work in.

The year-on year new car sales figures for this year are predicted to be down around 1% over last year, which is not good and the industry is bracing for a massive 10% drop in sales in May due to election uncertainty.

Also not good.

Now, that says a lot about how politics can affect the purchasing of a new car and just how tough it is out there on the sales floor with massive 42% of a new car’s price tag going to government in one form of tax or another.

This said, the new metal has to keep coming and Mitsubishi Motors South Africa has just added a new model to its compact SUV range of vehicles, the Eclipse Cross.

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This new offering slots in above the existing ASX and below the Outlander models. And as tough as this segment is, it is the place you want to play because it is one of the very few segments in the market that continues to show growth.

Mitsubishi locally are not getting over complicated with their model choices and are only offering a 4×2 CVT and an AWD (AllWheel Drive) CVT model of the same spec.

Both models feature the tried and tested 2.0-litre MIVEC naturally aspirated engine that produces 110 kW of power at 6 000rpm and 198Nm of torque at 4 200rpm. After our launch drive around Cape Town this week, I can say that no matter how often anybody tweaks a CVT gearbox, it still remains a frustrating option for me.

And the Eclipse Cross was no exception.

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The CVT once on the boil, or trundling around in traffic, is pleasant enough, but when accelerating up to the speed you require, or trying to overtake, is when the dislike for a CVT sets in, because the rpm stays in the higher rev range without too much forward progress being made.

The unit has a six-speed type, or six steps to be a bit more precise, manual shifting program that allows you to shift with the paddle shifters located behind the steering wheel if you really need to, perhaps like when towing.

I doubt many owners will bother with such a function, choosing to rather just leave it in drive and let it do its own thing.

A 1.5-litre turbocharged model should see its way here before the end of the year for those that want a bit more firepower and are prepared to pay for this.

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What you get is the surefootedness of Mitsubishi’s Super AllWheel Control (S-AWC) system, if you opt for this model derivative.

The S-AWC is the integration of the vehicle dynamics control system with the controls of each component around the all-wheel drive system and this gives you that little bit extra peace of mind when it comes to driving on the slippery stuff.

We did do a brief dirt road drive during the launch and the Eclipse Cross AWD performed exactly as expected and as said above, surefooted.

Standard spec on the inside is not bad at all with the likes of a touch screen Bluetooth radio, steering wheel controls and Head Up Display all being offered along with anything else you can think of that should come in a vehicle in this segment.

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Also on the table is a full complement of advanced active and passive safety features from seven airbags, to the full list of ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) to ASTC (Active Stability and Traction Control) safety acronyms.

Pricing

  • 2.0L CVT 4×2 R399 995
  • 2.0L CVT AWD R449 995

Both models are covered by Mitsubishi’s Manufacturer’s Warranty of three-years or 100 000km, a five-year/90 000 km Service Plan and a five-year/ unlimited mileage Roadside Assistance.

Likes 

  • It’s a Mitsubishi, it will go forever.
  • Interesting Japanese styling.

Dislikes 

  • CVT transmission.

Verdict 

  • There is no reason why you should not put the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross on your shopping list when in the market for a compact SUV.

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