Robin Reviews…The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross 1.5 Turbo

The SUV market is congested in South Africa, with automakers pumping most of their resources into something they know will rake in the revenue. By looking at their entire local model line-up, it is filled with SUVs, which is the segment most people are spending their cash in. The Eclipse name is not new to Mitsubishi as it once adorned the name of the high-performance sedan in other markets.

Built at Mitsubishi’s Mizushima Plant in Japan, the Eclipse Cross was first launched in South Africa in 2020 and recently underwent a slight design refresh. The model range currently consists of two GLS derivatives powered by a naturally aspirated 2.0-litre (110kW and 198Nm) or a turbocharged 1.5-litre engine (110kW and 250Nm) – with power sent to the front wheels via either a six and eight-step CVT transmission, respectively.

Thato Magasa, Managing Director of MMSA, says: “The latest 1.5t offering with an eight-step CVT transmission is in a class of its own and has been well received in the market. We are looking forward to the introduction of the all-new Eclipse Cross, which we are certain will add further success to the brand.”

The model on test here comes with the turbocharged 1.5-litre unit and currently retails for R509 995 (the 2.0-litre is priced from R469 995).

The facelifted model hasn't undergone tremendous changes to the exterior. The only notable differences are a black-finished front grille (the pre-facelift had a chrome one) and no horizontal rear brake light bar that runs across the back window, found on the older model. Many people (at the car wash particularly) commented that the horizontally-running rear brake light bar was not needed, serving as more of an aesthetic feature than anything, and Mitsubishi has done away with it in the current generation.

As far as body colour options go, customers can choose from Solid White, Sterling Silver Metallic, Titanium Grey Metallic, Red Diamond, and Sporty Blue.

The chassis sits on polished 18-inch alloy wheels and has a ground clearance of 180mm. It often feels much higher when in the driver's seat when navigating elevated surfaces. The longer length of the body also translates to a larger boot capacity of 437-litres, increasing to 1 074 litres with the rear seats folded flat without compromising the spare wheel tyre.

Inside the Eclipse Cross is a nice place to be. Both trim levels are adequately-specced with a full-leather interior, electric seat adjustment for both driver and front passenger, electric windows all around, heated seats, and a new premium sound system. Even though there are sections of plastic found in the centre console, it's not that big of a deal because it blends in rather than stands out.

The MiTEC (Mitsubishi Motors Intuitive Technology) Heads-Up display found above the instrument cluster is a real gem that displays features like the current travelling speed and any other vehicle information - like when your seatbelt is fastened. Not many brands utilise this technology which is a shame, I think.

How does it drive?

Having previously driven the pre-facelifted model when it launched in February of 2020, it gave me a good bookmark for what a possible facelift needed—starting with the gear changes. Though CVT transmissions aren't to everyone's liking, particularly when used in heavier chassis', it compliments the Eclipse Cross very well in everyday driving - even though the infamous CVT 'clutch slip' drone is audible at lower revs.

The jump in Newton Metres is down to forced induction, and thank goodness for that. There's no need to search for revs because all the power is on tap with gentle caressing the throttle, whether you're using the shifter or paddles behind the steering wheel. Personally, unless it's a performance derivative, I don't think SUVs should come with paddles.

It soaks up the bumps in the road like an SUV retailing for just over half a million rand but was a bit let down that it only had a two-wheel-drive option. The touchscreen infotainment system is nothing fancy and works without fuss where occupants can toggle between hands-free Bluetooth connectivity and Android Auto/Apple CarPlay compatibility, which is great.

The turbocharged 1.5-litre engine is the one to get as it is punchier in the drive and frugal (7.7-litre/100km) than the aspirated 2.0-litre version (7.9-litres/100km). With regular city and highway driving, I managed to garner a return of 7.5-litres/100km. I suspect that the figure will drop as the engine gets 'driven in' more.

Locally, the Eclipse Cross has to contend with the Kia Seltos, Peugeot 3008, and Toyota C-HR.

The range is reinforced with a factory three-year or 100 000km warranty, a five-year or 90 000km service plan, and a five-year or unlimited mileage roadside assistance, with service intervals set at 15 000km.

Now that you’ve got the knowledge, it’s time to shop! Head to gumtree.co.za or your Gumtree app (click for Apple & Android) and don’t forget to use your location settings to find local service information close to home.

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