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Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross 4: Magic Hour

Mitsubishi have a clear history when it comes to the design and building of compact SUVs of which the Eclipse Cross is another to be added to it’s illustrious predecessors. Like the short wheelbase Shogun or 2005s original SUV, the Outlander. And of course it was the Outlander, Mitsubishi tell us, that was the world’s first compact SUV to offer an environmentally friendly PZEV V6 engine, a quality also pioneered by today’s Eclipse Cross with it’s in-line 4-cylinder 16-valve DOHC MIVEC direct-injection petrol engine with turbocharger, intercooler and Auto Stop & Go technology.

What everyone wants with their new purchase is a vehicle that stands out from the crowd, a SUV that displays something a little different from everyone else and with the Mitsubishi you’ve certainly got that. Mitsubishi themselves nail it when they describe their Eclipse Cross: Robust below the waistline reflecting its 4×4 heritage, it is fierce from the front, flowing from the side with heavily flared front and rear arches and coupe-style roof line, and features a truly distinctive rear. This is the brand new face of Mitsubishi and it’s all good. The rear of the vehicle is distinctive without being over the top and combines beautifully with that refreshingly modern rear strip flowing between the lights with the accentuated wheel arches offering a sporting profile that compliments the high waistline. Indeed, the Eclipse Cross offers a rather more bespoke feel than could be reasonably expected.

Under the skin you’ve got thoroughly modern 4×4 architecture, which should come as no surprise, this is a Mitsubishi after all and moves the Eclipse Cross away from the more regular two wheel drive opposition. After all, if you’re going to have a SUV, it really should offer the driving experience that the looks promise.

With Mitsubishi having achieved five World Rally Championship titles and more Dakar Rally wins than anyone else, I think it’s clear that they know what they’re doing when it comes to offering all-wheel-drive in a vehicle. When underway, the S-AWC, Mitsubishi say, gathers information on steering, brakes, driveline and yaw, and then controls the 4×4 system and the brakes across the axles to direct torque to the wheel with most grip. What this means for the driver is that on the Eclipse Cross standard mode (Auto on the dial) torque is split 80:20 with more sent backwards when it’s needed, whilst Snow receives a greater rear-wheel-bias and it culminates in a 40:60 front:rear split for Gravel.

The result of all this clever technology is an SUV that really does offer increased straight line stability, enhanced cornering and increased traction and control, even when the weather and conditions conspire against you. The thing is, when (MotorMartin is based in Yorkshire after all) you need extra traction and the confidence that that gives you, the system in the Eclipse Cross allows you to concentrate fully on keeping smooth and the road ahead rather than worrying about what the car itself is going to be doing. Excellent.

For those of you used to the more utilitarian interiors of older 4x4s, sitting in the Mitsubishi is going to come as quite a shock. If the exterior of the Eclipse Cross impresses then the interior raises your expectations even more so with technology and style aplenty. Dominating the centre console and usually the preserve of something a little more Germanic, you have the touch pad controller, a simple to use feature that allows you to control the Smartphone Link Display Audio housed in a neat screen on top of the dash. And it’s the rather clever Link Display that allows you to maximise the features of your Smartphone, meaning that mapping is current and traffic updates live. You can even talk to your car using your phone’s voice control system which is extremely handing when needing to change the Sat Nav destination on the move or access your own music rather than the banal offerings on DAB and beyond.

Of course there’s leather heated seats, a Rockford Fosgate premium 9-speaker system and an impressive power panoramic glass roof helping to create a bright and airy cabin. What you probably won’t realise though is that the Eclipse Cross also offers the discerning driver LED headlamps with washers, a 360-degree camera, Blind Spot Warning & Rear Cross Traffic Alert Lane Change Assist and my own personal favourite the Adaptive Cruise Control (CVT 4WD model). And have I mentioned the superb colour Head-up display?

Once you’re out on the road, you can really start to feel what Mitsubishi were hoping to achieve with their Eclipse Cross as the stylish exterior perfectly complements the composed nature of the drive ahead. From the high up driving position typical of the Mitsubishi’s SUV architecture the Eclipse Cross does an excellent job of isolating you and your passengers from the imperfections ever present on the roads of this green and pleasant land of ours.

Heading off along the M62, on the first leg of a journey destined to finish on the beautiful Island of Anglesey and the first thing that strikes you is what a comfortable cruiser the Mitsubishi really is. With the Adaptive cruise control set to 70mph you really can begin to relax as the car removes the obvious stress that the average motorway brings about. Automatically speeding up and slowing down depending on the traffic around you plus the added security of a Forward Collision Mitigation system which provides an audible warning and braking assistance at speeds of up to 50mph, means that motorway miles fly-by giving you a chance to focus on the ride comfort and willingness of the power plant under the bonnet for a change.

Driven by Mitsubishi’s brand new 1.5 turbo direct injection petrol engine with Auto Stop & Go, this is power plant that provides excellent ‘real life’ power and performance that suits the Eclipse Cross perfectly. An SUV that delivers 118 bhp at 5500 rpm whilst offering 184 lb/ft torque between 1800-4500 rpm doesn’t tell the whole story especially if you’re looking purely at the figures and yet a 0-62 mph time of 9.8s suggests that this isn’t a car that is slow off the mark. As ever though, it’s the performance out on the road rather than on the track where the Eclipse Cross really makes itself known. Off the motorway and out onto the A and B roads of North Wales is where this SUV really starts to earn it’s money as it seamlessly transforms from a high mileage cruiser into a sporty upstart intent on releasing your inner youth. What this means in practice is that you can start to have serious amounts of fun whilst still transporting yourself and associated paraphernalia (family etc.) up hill and down dale. Suspension, so cosseting when travelling to your destination, allows for perfect control through the bends and road imperfections to be soaked up once arrived.

Mated to this engine is a CVT auto with 8-speed sport mode and manual override, a new generation Continuously Variable automatic Transmission which provides power seamlessly for a smoother ride and reduced power loss matches the engine perfectly allowing you to use the available power whenever necessary. There’s also the small matter of a combined mpg of 40.4, a more than reasonable figure for a car of this sort.

And it’s this ‘real life’ ability of the drivetrain that so impresses when using the Eclipse Cross everyday. Supermarkets, the school run and journeys further afield offer a variety of situations that fail to dent the abilities of this impressive SUV, an SUV which manages to combine comfort, technology and style in such a way as to create a quite unique combination, plus there’s the small matter of a superb and intuitive all-wheel drive system ready for when the need arises.

With a starting price of £21,915 you are getting an awful lot of car for the money.

Where will you go?

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