Nissan Qashqai 2019 review: ST+
In the rapidly changing world of small SUVs, can the five-year old Qashqai still keep up?
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Ah, Mitsubishi. When my Dad was buying the three diamonds, it was all Astron engines, high-roofed Sigma wagons and then Magnas and stuff.
The company knew how to make passengers cars, made them here and if you were a bearded Akubra hat type, you bought a Pajero. And if you were a weirdo you bought the wacky little Pajero io, because why wouldn't you?
Times have changed and Mitsubishi has changed with them. Now it's almost all SUVs, the tiddly Mirage everyone seems (thankfully) to have forgotten about and even the Methuselah-like Lancer is no more. I thought that car would never die (yes, it will live on in our hearts, etc.).
The Eclipse Cross came not a moment too soon for Mitsubishi. While the ASX is unaccountably still a strong seller for the brand as is the rather better Outlander, there's a gap there in which Mazda, Hyundai and Toyota (among others) make quite a bit of hay.
Mitsubishi needed to be in that market and to do so, resurrected the name of a late '90s sports coupe (yes, really) and slapped it on a startling-looking SUV. If you're gonna plug a gap, go large, right?
|Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross 2020: Exceed 4WD|
For 2020, Mitsubishi has done one of its annual tweaks and even then, it barely counts as a tweak. The ES is the same, starting at $29,990 but step into the LS and you have a new box to tick - ES 4WD, a $2500 premium over the $31,990 LS 2WD.
The Exceed is still available with both drivelines for either $36,690 or $39,190 depending on the number of driven wheels.
The car I had for the week was a top-of-the-range Exceed AWD, which meant 18-inch alloys, a six-speaker stereo, dual-zone climate control, front, side and reversing camera, keyless entry and start, front and rear parking sensors, active cruise control, auto LED headlights with auto high beam, head-up display, partial leather seats, power mirrors and windows, auto wipers and a space-saver spare.
The titchy little screen (in the big frame) perched on the dash features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and looks pretty good doing it, which is a nice change for Mitsubishi. There is no sat nav, though, which at nearly forty large seems a bit stingy.
Well hello there, Mitsubishi style, where have you been? The last decade of Mitsubishi design has been fairly tame. The recent butching up of the range has come courtesy of the 'Dynamic Shield' front end on, well, everything that isn't a Mirage.
The Eclipse Cross is like Big Uncle Kev doing a bomb in the pool at Christmas. It's woken everyone up, including me. I'm not saying I'm a fan particularly - there is a heck of a lot going on - but I have in the past been in trouble for complaining about boring-looking cars and then laying into not-boring looking cars.
The Dynamic Shield front is pretty good and lets you know who makes the car from the get-go. The steeply raked rear screen dominates the profile, giving it a bit of raciness so far missing from the line-up.
The LS-based Black Edition is probably the best of the lot because the chrome of the Exceed really accentuates the sharp angles. And there is of course, the polarising tailgate - that fast glass meets a vertical glass panel and it's split across the middle like a Honda CR-X. It's a bit distracting from the inside, though.
Inside is much calmer, with the Exceed scoring new front trims and lighting for MY20. I quite like this interior, though, everything feels more substantial than the ASX in particular, but also looks very contemporary.
Just a pity the ASX steering wheel is along for the ride, although as you'll see shortly, it's not without irony that I say that.
Strictly-speaking the Eclipse Cross is not a mid-size SUV. When you look at the numbers, its wheelbase is no longer than the underwhelming ASX with which it shares its underpinnings. But the Eclipse has a couple of tricks up its sleeve.
The first is that the already roomy (for its size) back seat can slide forward and back by 200mm. On top of that, the seats recline down to 32 degrees, which is pretty laid back. The 60/40 splits are also separate so you can tune the boot space that way.
With the rear seats slid all the way back you start with 341 litres and if you go the other way, it's 448 litres, shaming bigger machines. Drop the rear seats altogether and space goes to 1122 litres.
The load space and boot aperture are narrow, though, so be aware that this might limit flat-pack adventures. It's still a lot of space for a relatively small car.
You also get four cupholders (two forward, two aft), same again for bottle holders and a map pocket in the back of each front seat.
If you fancy towing, the 1600kg braked trailer towing capacity is mildly surprising and the 750kg unbraked pretty standard.
The Eclipse Cross scores that rarest of things - a brand new Mitsubishi engine - weighing in at just 1.5-litres across four cylinders.
With the help of a turbo, the car's 1555kg kerb weight - the kids would call this 'a chonky boy' - is pulled along by 110kW/250Nm.
There are eight 'fake' gears in the CVT that come into play when you use the paddles.
Mildly surprising (to me anyway) is the discovery that the 'Super All-Wheel Control' (S-AWC) uses a centre differential. An Isuzu MU-X doesn't even have one of those.
The fuel sticker reckons you'll see 7.7L/100km, which seemed high to me. Turns out to be a little way off, even by fuel sticker standards, the cheeky 1.5-litre delivering 10.3L/100km.
The combination of hefty weight and no stop-start rather blunts the efficiency gains you might expect from a small capacity turbo, which is a pity.
Loaded into the Exceed are seven airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, forward AEB, adaptive cruise control, a reversing camera, lane departure warning, lane change assist, blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert.
Added to that is a tricky device that helps prevent unfortunate accidental acceleration events when you're pootling along at under 10km/h.
Mitsubishi reckons that will protect people and objects within four metres front or back but the dog wouldn't stand still long enough for me to test that function. I'm quite taken with it as a concept.
To keep the smaller folk you carry firmly in place you can fix their seats with either the two ISOFIX points or three top-tether anchors.
The Eclipse Cross scored a maximum five ANCAP stars in December 2017.
4.1666666666667 years / 100,000 km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
Mitsubishi offers a five year/100,000km warranty and a 12 month membership to your local motoring organisation. Return to Mitsubishi for servicing and you get another 12 months.
Speaking of which, your dealer expects to see you every 12 months and as part of the capped-price servicing you'll pay no more than $199 each for the first three services.
Things seem to be looking up - funky looks, nice interior, new engine. Must be all-new, right?
Nope. Sadly, underneath all this is the ageing ASX. That's not all bad, of course. The new engine is a huge improvement on the noisy 2.0-litre of the donor car. While the torque figure isn't exactly postcard-worthy, it works with the CVT to keep the car moving quietly and competently.
The CVT is a reminder of the ASX but seems slightly better calibrated in the Eclipse Cross. It's still not great, but the fact it's quieter is a big bonus.
The steering wheel from the ASX is both a predictor and a reminder of what the car is like to drive - thoroughly uninteresting.
It does handle better than the ASX, but that's not at all difficult. The low rolling resistance tyres are fine at moderate speeds but you have no idea what they're doing through the wheel - the electric assistance filters out absolutely everything, even more than the Kluger.
But few people are buying Mitsubishis for dynamic superiority - the Cross rides nicely and its multi-link rear end will be welcomed by rear seat passengers for the smooth ride it delivers.
The brakes are good, too, with decent pedal feel and none of the inconsistency of other Mitsubishis.
When you stand back and look at the Eclipse Cross, it's a curious thing. Barely bigger than a Nissan Qashqai - heck, it's not much bigger than the ASX - and priced at the top end of compact SUVs and the middle of mid-sizers.
It's got an impressive safety package but drives like a car much older than it looks. It pairs a brand new engine with a deeply ordinary transmission. For every bit of contemporary bling, Mitsubishi saddles it with some old school cruft.
Despite all that, I almost liked it - roomy, great safety gear, interesting to look at and almost well-priced. Perhaps the LS is a better buy - a fair bit less money, not much less bling.
|Price and features||7|
|Engine & trans||7|