The Eclipse? We've heard that before, right?
It's a familiar name to Mitsubishi fans, but affixed to a very different model here. Mitsubishi has used the Eclipse name before, on a coupe for the American market. Here it's applied not to something lithe and sporty, but the latest of the current crop of SUVs and crossovers that increasingly make up the volume family car marketplace. Qashqai-country, if you must, as Nissan's genre-bending original defined the segment, and the Mitsubishi Eclipse Sport now aims directly at Nissan's cash cow.
That's some goal...
Indeed, though it's a big, and ever-growing marketplace so there's plenty of room for a new contender. The Eclipse Cross won't replace either the Mitsubishi ASX below it or the Outlander above it. In time the ASX should shrink a bit to make the line-up clearer, while the Outlander will remain as is until its replacement around 2020. The Eclipse Sport adds to the choice at Mitsubishi dealers, then, and, if it does its job right, will drag a few people out of rivals' showrooms.
By being different, but the same. It's a five-seat SUV/crossover that should attract buyers just because it's not one of the established models. The bold styling will help, too, overseen by Mitsubishi's new design boss Tsunehiro Kunimoto, whose previous portfolio includes Nissan's Juke. The front is familiar Mitsubishi stuff, with a sharp interpretation of the firm's 'Dynamic Shield' design, while the rear is more divisive, with high-mounted lights cutting across the rear hatch and window.
And powering it?
Not, as we'd anticipated, a hybrid powertrain, which, given the firm's massive leadership in the UK PHEV marketplace, looks like an oversight. No, power will come from a choice of either a 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine or a re-worked 2.2-litre common-rail turbodiesel. Insiders tell us that it's been engineered from the outset to accommodate a hybrid drivetrain though, so we'd be amazed if there's not one with a plug and cable in the boot soon.
And powering it?
Correct; the Eclipse Cross uses Mitsubishi's Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC) four-wheel-drive system that diverts drive to the rear wheels when it's needed. Given the majority of its rivals are front-wheel drive, we'd anticipate Mitsubishi takes the same route, not least to maximise potential economy and emissions savings. There are no numbers associated with the announced engines yet, as Mitsubishi will reveal more details nearer the car's early 2018 on-sale date.
And the interior?
Nothing revelatory really; a sharper design dominates though, as does a cabin that can rival its competition for material quality and finish. There'll be plenty of connectivity and user-friendliness, too, with smartlink allowing Apple CarPlay or Android Auto and Google Maps, all controlled by a Touchpad Controller in the transmission tunnel. There's also a head-up display, though this is certain to be an option on all but the most expensive models.
How much then?
We cannot say for certain, as it's still a while off, but the competition is healthy in the £20,000-£30,000 arena, so we'd expect it to slot right in there.
Kyle Fortune - 7 Mar 2017