By Sandy Myhre
In line with numerous other car manufacturers, Mitsubishi has equipped its new Eclipse Cross SUV with a smaller engine than you think it warrants and larger interior space than you thought you’d get – given the size of that engine.
Beneath the triangular, wedge-shape, bonnet lies a relatively small 1.5 litre MIVEC petrol power plant and, here’s the key, it’s turbocharged and coupled to continuously variable (also known as stepless) transmission that offers smooth and seemingly effortless performance.
As an aside, CVT was apparently invented for saw milling by American, Milton Reeves, in 1879 and which he applied to his first car in 1896. So, you see, the engineering behind this transmission is certainly tried, tested and true.
In any event, if you thought the Eclipse Cross 1.5 couldn’t peel the skin off the proverbial rice pudding, you’d be very wrong. It’s a lively performer and, if further proof is needed, had no trouble tramping around some of the twisty, tight and steep hills of the upper North Island.
So far so competent and it probably needs to be because it sits in a crowded market sector. Where the Eclipse stands out – overshadows some of the opposition you might say – is in styling. Mitsubishi designers have been more extroverted, more courageous perhaps, and refreshingly more aggressive than some of the opposition and although aesthetic pleasantry is not all you look for in a car, it’s a good start.
The bold design includes an air dam, of sort, splitting the rear window half way across and containing a row of LED brake lights. It’s brilliant for anyone following you because they can’t miss it but from the inside, looking through the rear-view mirror, it takes a bit of getting used to because it literally splits the view. A reversing camera is standard equipment so if you’re going backwards, it isn’t a problem.
Inside this Mitsubishi Eclipse is roomy, slightly bigger in fact than much of the opposition and all-round vision is excellent. It’s another good selling point.
There’s a heads-up display with a hologram signifying your speed and that you can choose to use or not. There’s ‘forward collision mitigation’ that warns of impending impact and the deadly geraniums at the end of the driveway didn’t escape this eagle eye. There’s also blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert and cross-lane warning which, curiously because these are the more critical, doesn’t seem to recognise yellow lines.
Overall, though, there’s an impressive array of safety features far too numerous to mention here.
The driver interface, or what used to be known as the dashboard display, is refreshingly large but it’s fully touch-screen so there are no knobs to turn. Preferences here are entirely personal but it’s a safe bet that whoever designed touch pads on cars, never had to clean the windows at home.
The tablet-like Smart Phone link display unit accepts both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto but what it doesn’t have embedded is Sat Nav. You can connect that through your phone. Again, a personal preference would be to have it all-inclusive.
The Eclipse offers all-round excellence (a couple of personal preferences aside) and will suit a broad range of buyers from those with young families, to singles who might live rurally, to couples whose kids have flown (or were pushed) from the nest and who want space and comfort coupled to sheer good looks.
The very generous storage space is arguably best-in-class. Arguably because it’s hard to decipher all the mathematical dimensions given in the form of litres and metres. In practical parlance, what the boot (rear) carrying space can cope with should suit most people.
There are four models to choose from, all-wheel-drive or two-wheel-drive and with varying specification levels, starting from around $35,000 and up to $47,590.
The attractiveness litmus test comes from others. Parked outside the Four Square store in Russell in the Bay of Islands and two people – both women actually – came up to ask what sort of car it was and threw in a few questions about performance and price.
The following day two invited passengers confessed that if they were in the market for a SUV they’d certainly consider the VRX simply because it looks good and because of the generous cabin space.