Mitsubishi's SUV that is like a sharp city suit
AUSTRALIANS love the space and versatility of mid-size SUVs but small SUVs typically have the same desirable style and ride height for less money.
Mitsubishi's Eclipse Cross fits somewhere between the two segments, feeling small to drive and park, yet with a clever and pleasingly large cabin. Does it fit the bill for an active family with two small kids?
IAIN: You do realise this car is aimed squarely at us. Youngish couples supposedly in love with SUVs need space for small kids and have no thoughts of off-roading beyond the odd unsealed track.
JULES: I wish I were in the demographic where two-seater Porsche supercars were aimed at me.
IAIN: You're too young, too poor and too much a mum. Sorry. Besides, look how edgy and lifestyle-y this new Eclipse Cross is.
JULES: It does look good. I love the contrasting black roof, the creases down the side and blingy front end.
IAIN: Its rear is really a standout, I quite like the coupe-like taper at the back and full-width light bar with LED brake lights, which doesn't obscure rearward vision as much as I'd feared.
JULES: It looks like a Toyota Prius inspired its behind, sorry.
IAIN: Well, at least it's not boring. This is the range-topping AWD Exceed by the way, costing a chunky $38,500. The 2WD versions start from $30,500.
JULES: A fair wedge. What are its rivals?
IAIN: It's bigger than most rivals but there's a cast of thousands. Mitsubishi fans could go the smaller ASX or larger Outlander but also consider something like a Subaru XV or Nissan Qashqai, or for the same cash a bigger SUV with slightly fewer goodies.
THE LIVING SPACE
JULES: All right, leather with orange stitching. And a double panoramic sunroof. Nice.
IAIN: This is where your money's going. There's a vast amount of kit and safety features in these range-toppers.
JULES: I love the keyless entry, electric heated seat, parking sensors and 360-degree camera.
IAIN: Shame the passenger seat isn't electric - with all these luxuries an electric tailgate would have been handy, too.
JULES: I like the mix of fake carbon-fibre weave, piano black and metallic in the cabin but it does feel a bit tacky plastic in places.
IAIN: It's still a Mitsubishi and not a Lexus, remember, and at least the large wads of dash plastics are soft-touch.
JULES: Apple CarPlay/Android Auto is excellent but the touchscreen is too far away for me to use when driving.
IAIN: The alternative is a touchpad controller by the gearstick, which is a Lexus-y thing. I tried to master it but went back to the touchscreen.
JULES: The benefits of longer arms. It frustrated me, too, and actually distracted me driving.
IAIN: The head-up display showing your speed and gear is a deft touch. It emerges from the dash like a Bond villain's gadget.
JULES: It's smooth to cruise in but why does it feel so sluggish when I get to about 35km/h?
IAIN: The continuously variable transmission is guilty there. There's manual override but you really need to stomp on the accelerator to keep it punting along, as it likes to sit in eco mode to save fuel. We've returned 8.6L/100km on test.
JULES: Fair enough and I have to say it's a really comfortable, quiet ride and drive experience. No fun or zestiness, though.
IAIN: That's fine for the target market but, no, it's not as sporty as its body style suggests. There's no manual option (unlike other markets) that could up the fun. The paddle-shifters are some consolation. All-wheel drive is par for the course but 2WD would be more relevant in this car.
JULES: Big win is the sliding rear seat. Take it all the way forward and you get another 100L of space. Why don't all cars do this?
IAIN: It's becoming more common. Our kids don't need much legroom so we can slide the seats right forward to maximise boot space.
JULES: Boot's a bit small when the seats are back. No worries for the weekly shop but I need the seat forward to get kids' bikes in.
IAIN: The Eclipse is one for city posing on weekends. It has AWD but, really, no owner's going to be muddying those 18-inch alloys.
JULES: How much cheaper is the 2WD version?
IAIN: $2500. I've not tested the front-wheel drive one but hopefully it handles as well as the AWD. The Eclipse is impressively balanced for an SUV and a serene highway cruiser to boot.
JULES: Yep, great size for our small family. And being a safety-conscious mum, the modern kit is brilliant.
IAIN: It's the full safety suite - so well done, Mitsubishi. Would be very hard to crash this car with the abundance of active and autonomous safety gear. Cars twice this price miss out on some of the features.
JULES: Our spoilt kids complained there were no rear air vents.
IAIN: The Eclipse has decent visual flair, and the entry-level 2WD LS looks near identical on the outside for $8000 less than our range topper. That'd be my pick, otherwise it's just too expensive. Mitsubishi's larger Outlander stablemate can be had for less.
JULES: It's pretty and practical but for the near $40K pricetag, unless I needed AWD, I could have a sports wagon instead, for example a Skoda Octavia RS.
MITSUBISHI ECLIPSE CROSS EXCEED AWD
PRICE From $38,500 (expensive)
WARRANTY/ SERVICING 5 years/100,000km (very good), $1200 for 3 years/45,000km (reasonable)
ENGINE 1.5-litre 4-cyl turbo, 110kW/250Nm (unexciting)
SAFETY 5 stars, 7 airbags, AEB, blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise, rear cross traffic alert (excellent)
THIRST 7.7L/100km (average)
SPARE Space-saver (not ideal)
BOOT 341L-448L (clever)