Kia Sportage 2018 review
The facelifted Kia Sportage finally gets essential driver aids... but it's what else it gets that sets it apart.
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You may have noticed that the Mitsubishi Lancer has gone out of fashion recently.
Long a household name and seemingly inseparable from Mitsubishi’s identity, the Lancer will inevitably become another victim of the worldwide SUV craze.
Meet its replacement, the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross. It has a puzzling name (derived from the US-market Mitsubishi Eclipse sports coupe) and a puzzling shape that sits somewhere between a small SUV and a mid-size one.
As Mitsubishi’s first new nameplate in a long time, though, there’s a lot riding on it. Can it deliver SUV gold? I spent a week in the basically-base-model ES Sports Edition to find out.
|Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross 2019: ES SPORT EDITION|
|Engine Type||1.5L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
The Eclipse Cross ES Sports Edition (long name...) costs $30,990 (before on-road costs) and is essentially a limited-edition trim-pack for the base-model ES, which is $1000 cheaper.
As mentioned, the Eclipse Cross is a fair bit larger than true small SUVs like the Hyundai Kona, Mazda CX-3 and Honda HR-V. It’s more on par with the Nissan Qashqai or Jeep Compass, or maybe at a stretch the Kia Sportage.
Factoring in price pits it against the $28,990 Nissan Qashqai ST, $30,750 Jeep Compass Sport or the $29,990 Kia Sportage Si.
Standard across the range are 18-inch alloy wheels, LED DRLs, leather-wrapped shift lever and steering wheel, a 7.0-inch multimedia touchscreen supporting DAB+ as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, single-zone climate control, auto halogen headlamps, rain-sensing wipers and a reversing camera.
The Sports Edition simply adds gloss-black plastic finish on the grille and wing-mirrors, as well as carbon-look plastic side skirts with a red pinstripe along the bottom of the doors. Given you don’t get any extra functional features or even unique alloy wheels it’s hard to see why you should pick this over the base model. Save yourself the $1000.
The Sport Edition misses out on heated wing mirrors, forward and reverse parking sensors, dimming rear-view mirror and a head-up display from higher models, but perhaps the most budget feature is the key.
Look at the thing. It doesn’t even fold up. It has to be the worst key I’ve ever received on a new car this side of 2011. The few competitors that don’t offer a 'smart key' with push-start at least have the sense to give you a half-way decent folding fob.
Even so, with the standard inclusions, $30,990 makes the ES Sport Edition a solid value proposition amongst its SUV peers.
I’d argue the next grade up, the LS, is the Eclipse Cross to get as at just $2000 more it adds lane departure warning, push-start and replaces the clumsy conventional handbrake with an electronic one.
The Eclipse Cross is like nothing else on the market. The front of it has been brought in line with Mitsubishi’s current 'Dynamic Shield' design language that features prominently across the Outlander, Pajero Sport and new Triton ranges. Unlike the traditional shape of the Qashqai or insectoid looks of the Sportage, the Eclipse Cross is a dead-set over-commitment to right angles.
Around the back things get a little odd. The rear light clusters clasp the rear from the roof down, then the bumper curves out giving it a strange bulbous look. To confuse things further, there’s a split rear window with a light-bar spoiler running across the middle.
It’s a lot to take in. For what it’s worth, I don’t hate the look of it, but I can see why it could turn some potential buyers off.
The black highlights on our car look a smidge better than the standard grey-on-chrome fittings, but again, I’m not sure if they’re worth an extra grand.
The 18-inch alloys fill those wheel arches well, and present good value at this price.
The cabin design of the Eclipse Cross looks the same as pretty much every other Mitsubishi and wouldn’t have looked out of place in a Lancer from 10 years ago. The brand’s interior design language has moved at a glacial pace since 2007.
The materials are marginally better than those days, though, with tactically placed soft-touch surfaces in all the right places and a mix of silver chrome and gloss-plastic that’s cheap but effective.
Better bits include the wheel, dash and multimedia screen, while the transmission tunnel area is a bit clumsy.
The huge manual handbrake takes up so much room next to the driver that there’s padding in it because you have no choice but to rest your arm on it, and there are a plethora of blanked out buttons for the all-wheel drive system from higher grades.
The seat material is a thoroughly padded synthetic with a rather odd pattern on it. It’s surprisingly comfortable in both seating rows.
Due to the centre console issue in 2WD variants with the handbrake sticking out, space is a bit limited for your arms.
There are plenty of storage areas for front occupants, however, with some huge cupholders (that also have an ambient light in the bottom of them, nice touch) a storage trench under the air-con that also hosts two USB ports, a 12-volt outlet and oddly the 'Eco' mode button, as well as a big centre console box with a removable top section for smaller objects.
The 7.0-inch touchscreen is great to use and not too hard to reach for the driver, although the lack of a volume knob (there are touch buttons on the sides) will irritate passengers.
For some inexplicable reason Mitsubishi have chosen to include a touchpad as an alternative to controlling the media functions. It is similar to the much-maligned units in Lexus models and seems utterly pointless to me. The touchscreen is easier to control in every conceivable scenario. I only found the tactile home-button below the touch-pad to be useful.
The rear is left with slightly less amenities, consisting of a bottle-holder in the door and a flimsy drop-down armrest with two cupholders. For an SUV this size it’s a bit of a let down to not get vents in the back of the centre console for rear passengers, although air conditioning is provided to the rear via vents under the front seats.
I found leg and headroom was excellent in both rows for me at 182cm tall. It’s a truly spacious and comfortable cabin, if a little plain.
The boot loses out courtesy of the sloping roofline with a minimum space of 341 litres but there’s a trick. The back seats are actually on rails, so you can move them forward to extend the amount of available room. With them fully stowed forward, space is boosted to 448L.
With the seats folded flat, max space is an average 1122L.
All Eclipse Cross variants get the same 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine.
Outputs seem decent on paper, at 110kW/250Nm, but max torque is available from just 2000rpm, giving it a strong, punchy feeling as soon as you hop on the accelerator.
It certainly feels better than the lacklustre 2.0-litre non-turbo units in both the Qashqai (106kW/200Nm) and Sportage (114kW/192Nm).
The Eclipse cross can only be had with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). It was surprisingly unobtrusive, making little noise and it didn’t burden the accelerator pedal with much of the signature CVT rubbery response feel.
The ES and LS grades are front drive only, with the top-spec Exceed offering all-wheel drive.
Official combined figures rate front-wheel drive Eclipse Cross variants at 7.3L/100km. Over my week of testing I landed on 9.0L/100km, but this was with mainly urban driving and some occasionally intense bouts of acceleration. Prior to the second half of the week it was averaging roughly 7.5l/100km. I believe a more forgiving driver could easily get it below 8.0.
Despite the turbocharger, the Eclipse Cross drinks a minimum of 91 RON regular unleaded petrol. It has a 63-litre tank.
I wasn’t expecting much from the Eclipse Cross. The ASX and Outlander a size above and below lack personality behind the wheel, so I was surprised to find the Eclipse Cross was better than it has any right to be.
Unlike its stablemates, it feels light and agile and the 1.5-litre was responsive and strong. So strong that it would make the wheels spin from a standstill under heavy acceleration, although it wouldn’t try and pull the wheel out of my hand (torque-steer) which is a good sign.
Steering was accurate if a little light and engine noise was minimal. Tyre noise (not helped by the large alloys) and thudding from suspension components began to build up at speeds faster than 70km/h.
Unlike some front-drive SUVs it never felt too front-heavy and handled admirably through the corners.
This is probably due to the Eclipse Cross having a multi-link rear suspension set up rather than a cheaper torsion-bar. The rear would still become notably unsettled over bumpier corners, however.
The spongy seats and long suspension travel helped elevate you from the worse bumps on the road. For a comparison – It didn’t feel as stiff or sporty sporty as something like the Mazda CX-3 or CX-5, but not as soft as the Nissan Qashqai or as heavy as the Sportage.
5 years / 100,000 km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
The Eclipse Cross carries a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating as of December 2017. It’s helped along by having auto emergency braking (AEB) as standard, but it also scored well (97 per cent) for adult occupant protection.
Mitsubishi’s version of AEB, dubbed 'Forward Collision Mitigation' works at speeds up to 180km/h, which is better than some competitors which work at city-speeds only, especially at this price.
It’s paired with forward collision warning which was a bit over-active. It seemed to think collisions were imminent regularly on tight streets with parked cars, or when passing close to oncoming traffic.
The ES doesn’t get lane departure warning or lane keep assist that’s available on the rest of the range, but at $30k you can hardly expect the full suite of safety features.
It also has the standard suite of stability and braking controls as well as hill-start assist and seven airbags. There are two ISOFIX child seat mounting points on the outer rear seats.
The Eclipse Cross is covered by Mitsubishi’s five-year/unlimited kilometer warranty. That’s up to spec with most competitors like Hyundai, Honda and Mazda, while beating out the less-than-impressive three-year warranties offered by Suzuki and Toyota.
The competitor to beat is still the Kia Sportage with its seven year/unlimited kilometer coverage. Mitsubishi offers capped price servicing, but for some reason it only lasts 36 months, two years shorter than the life of the warranty. Strange.
Regardless, the Eclipse Cross requires attention every 15,000km or 12 months and costs $300 for the first service then $400 for the remaining two.
I didn’t expect to like the Eclipse Cross as much as I did. It is well equipped, packs a modern peppy engine, has a spacious cabin and a surprisingly usable boot.
Sure, the interior looks like it could be a decade old, but it’s augmented with all the right things and makes for a comfortable place to be.
I’d argue you don’t need to spend $1000 on the gloss-black plastic additions, but instead consider the next grade up (the LS) as it has improved safety inclusions and other enhancements for a small additional cost.
|BLACK EDITION SAM (2WD)||1.5L, ULP, CVT AUTO||$31,490||2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross 2019 BLACK EDITION SAM (2WD) Pricing and Specs|
|ES (2WD)||1.5L, ULP, CVT AUTO||$29,990||2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross 2019 ES (2WD) Pricing and Specs|
|ES SPORT EDITION||1.5L, ULP, CVT AUTO||$30,990||2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross 2019 ES SPORT EDITION Pricing and Specs|
|EXCEED (2WD)||1.5L, ULP, CVT AUTO||$36,000||2019 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross 2019 EXCEED (2WD) Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||7|
|Engine & trans||8|