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Mahindra XUV500


Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

Summary

Mahindra XUV500

Just in case attacking Australia's crowded SUV market with a virtually unheard of Indian brand wasn't a high enough hurdle to leap over, Mahindra had made its task even harder - think a Bollywood version of Mission Impossible - by launching its XUV500 SUV here with a diesel engine (which nobody wanted) and a manual gearbox (which few could even remember how to use). 

Fortunately, it fixed one of those issues late in 2016, finally adding an automatic transmission to the line-up. And now, at long last, it's fixed the other.

This, then, is the petrol-powered XUV500 SUV. And, on paper at least, it's the most sense-making Mahindra to date. 

For one, it's a ferociously cheap way into a new seven-seat SUV. For another, it's pretty well equipped, even from the base level. There's a long warranty, an equally long roadside assistance offering, and there's capped-price servicing, too. 

So, should the mainstream SUV players be looking over their shoulders?

Spoiler alert: no.

Safety rating
Engine Type2.2L turbo
Fuel TypeDiesel
Fuel Efficiency6.7L/100km
Seating7 seats

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

If the hugely popular Mazda CX-5 barely fits your family's needs, why would you ever go smaller?

Because you can, with the new segment-splitting Eclipse Cross reminding us that practicality and overall size aren't directly proportional.

Straddling what we've come to define as the small and mid-size SUV segments, the new Mitsubishi sits between the top-selling ASX and the successful Outlander. The new model, however, brings one of the latter's biggest packaging benefits to make it a smaller alternative to the mid-size SUV brigade, with overall dimensions closer to the next size down.

This idea is hardly new, with the Jeep Compass and Nissan Qashqai blazing this trail, but neither can match the Eclipse Cross's interior trump card, so far. 

Safety rating
Engine Type1.5L turbo
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency7.7L/100km
Seating5 seats

Verdict

Mahindra XUV5006.5/10

This petrol-powered and well-priced XUV500 W6 might mark Mahindra's most convincing effort at cracking Australia's congested SUV market, but we're still not completely convinced.

That said, it's certainly cheap, the ownership credentials stack up and it's a very comfortable way to transport seven people.

Will this Mahindra's low price and upgraded spec win your SUV vote? Tell us in the comments below.


Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross7.6/10

The Eclipse Cross will represent the right solution for a lot of SUV buyers. It offers better value than a few smaller rivals, and matches a few larger ones for practicality, while fitting within a smaller body.

Given its generous levels of standard equipment and value, I’d pick the LS as the sweet spot of the range, but this is dependent on where the upcoming ES slots in price and spec-wise. Either way, the new Eclipse Cross is an impressive package.

Do you reckon the Eclipse Cross's size might be just right? Tell us in the comments below.

Check out Mal's Eclipse Cross preview drive video from late last year:

Design

Mahindra XUV5005/10

There's no getting away from the fact the XUV500 is not the sleekest, prettiest SUV in the pack. But it's not ugly, either. More that it looks like it's doing its best with a design philosophy hatched a generation or two ago.

Its best angle by far is when viewed straight on, where the piano-black grille, dual bonnet bulges and complicated (read: a little weird) headlight clusters all add some road presence to Mahindra's only SUV.

A side-on viewing, however, is less satisfying, where a combination of strangely placed and super-sharp body creases (including one over the rear wheelarch, which adds a Harbour Bridge-style crescent to the otherwise-straight window line) and serious rear overhang give the XUV500 an inescapable awkwardness.

Inside, expect a vast collection of rock-hard (though nicely patterned) plastics, with the ambiance rescued somewhat by the clean-looking and vertical central control unit, which is home to the media screen and air-con controls. 

Ready for some hashtag real talk? There are better-looking and better-feeling seven-seat SUVs out there. But there aren't many that start at $25,990 drive-away. And I think that's Mahindra's point.


Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross7/10

The Eclipse Cross builds on the edgy ‘Dynamic Shield’ looks of the recent Pajero Sport but brings a distinctive wedge-like profile and a tapered rear end akin to a coupe.

This rear end also features a back window split by a rear spoiler that integrates full-width lighting, in a similar approach to the original Honda CR-X, and more recently, the Toyota Prius.

You’ll be doing well to pick the top-spec Exceed from the entry Eclipse Cross LS, with just the black roof of the dual sunroof-equipped Exceed to distinguish it visually. 

When it comes to dimensions, the Eclipse Cross is 40mm longer than the ASX, but 290mm shorter than the Outlander. It's 5mm narrower than both, stands 45mm taller than the small SUV, and 25mm lower than the mid-sizer.  

One clever detail is doors extending below the sills to help keep your clothes clean on entry and egress, and the whole interior is a big step forward compared to its nearest siblings.

The dash binnacle-mounted head-up display on the top-spec Eclipse Cross Exceed may seem cheap and nasty compared to in-glass systems, but you’ll love the Mitsubishi version if you ever need to replace a windscreen. Another plus is adjustment for the height of the display is via a simple switch next to the steering wheel. Take note, Mazda.

One element we’re less than excited about is the Lexus-style touch-pad controller for the new multimedia system, which is just about as fiddly as it is with the luxury brand, so you’d probably find yourself using the touchscreen instead. Note that the touch-pad doesn’t work with Android Auto anyway.

Practicality

Mahindra XUV5007/10

Pretty damn practical, actually, regardless of whether you want to carry people or cargo. Carrying both at the same time, however, is tricky.

But let's start with people. There is a huge amount of room in the third row of the XUV500, a space with enough head and legroom to put plenty of its competition to shame.

Thanks to second-row seat backs that fold flat, before the the entire seat lifts up and pushes forward, climbing into seats six and seven isn't too big a drama, either. 

We rarely say this about seven-seat cars, but at 175cm, I'd feel plenty comfortable back there on a longer drive. There are two air vents in the third row, too, along with bottle storage and side-seat storage for thin items.

The space in the middle row is ample as well, and you'll find three ISOFIX attachment points, one for each of the three seats. There's also a door pocket in each rear door and storage nets on the rear of the two front seats. A pull-down divider that separates the back seat is home to two cupholders, matching the two for front seat riders. 

The only downside to all this people-lugging happiness is that, with the third row of seats in place, there is absolutely no room for luggage. Mahindra doesn't quote a litre storage figure when seven are seated (mostly because it would probably be embarrassing to write "one litre"), but trust us, you'll be lucky to squeeze a soft backpack in the boot with all seats in place.

Things improve considerably when you drop the third row of seats, though, which unlocks 702 litres of storage, and that number climbs to 1512 litres with the second and third row folded down.


Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross8/10

You probably won't notice this on a test drive, and to be honest I only truly understood it by bringing my 14-month-old son along for the Eclipse Cross's weekend launch, but the new Mitsubishi does a better job of swallowing a rearward-facing child seat than some larger SUVs.

Two which are definitely on this list are the Ford Escape and Mazda CX-5. Thanks to recent long-term tests of each, I've found both leave just enough room for a less than average height adult (I'm 172cm) in the front passenger seat.

A more upright, and therefore compact, forward-facing baby seat is a different story, but the lengthy rearward-facing set-up is a non-negotiable reality for the first year or so of a baby's life.

The Eclipse Cross, on the other hand, leaves ample room for this front passenger. How, you ask? It’s not a feng shui feat, but rather, simply using the sliding rear seat mechanism from the Outlander.

This allows you 200mm of choice between maximum rear seat legroom and maximum boot space, with the max legroom option creating more baby seat space than the aforementioned bigger players. The sliding function is also split 60/40 with the split-fold, so you can create max legroom on one side, while preserving max cargo space on the other. 

The respective boot space adjusts between a decent 341 litres and a pretty good 448-litre maximum, which is aided by having a space saver spare tyre under the floor.

Aside from this back seat/boot party trick, the Eclipse Cross’s identical wheelbase to the ASX and Outlander gives it ample room for four adults. There’s slightly less rear headroom than the Outlander due to its sloping roofline, which also tightens up rear entry space and could be annoying for taller parents when loading children.

One other less than ideal element is the lack of directional air vents for the back seat. This is common among smaller, cheaper SUVs, but we find the under-seat vents are nowhere near as effective as adjustable outlets in the back of the centre console.  

As is par for the course these days, there are dual cupholders front and rear plus bottle holders in each door, with decent storage around the cabin for things like mobile phones, plus ISOFIX child seat mounts for the two outer positions.

Price and features

Mahindra XUV5009/10

Make no mistake, this Mahindra kills the competition on price. The entry-level W6 version will cost you a lean $25,990, while the fruited-up W8 version will set you back $29,990. You can even have an AWD W8 for $32,990. The best part? All of those are drive-away prices.

Go for the W6, and you can expect 17-inch alloy wheels, cloth seats, air-con with vents (powered by a second compressor) in the second and third row, cornering headlights with DRLs, front and rear fog lights, cruise control, rear parking sensors and a 6.0-inch multimedia screen linked with a six-speaker stereo.

Spring for the W8, and you'll add leather seats, a reversing camera, tyre-pressure monitoring and a bigger, 7.0-inch screen with standard sat-nav.


Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross7/10

The $30,500 list price of the base LS is a fair bit higher than the kick-off point for its closest rivals, but Mitsubishi plans to add a base ES spec by the end of the year to help meet them head on. 

For now, the LS comes impressively equipped for the price, with all of the important safety gear like AEB and seven airbags fitted as standard, plus a new multimedia interface that's compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, front and rear parking sensors, tinted rear windows, lane departure warning, auto headlights, active high beams and rain-sensing wipers, plus 18-inch alloys.

For an extra $5500, the $36,000 Exceed adds leather trim and a dual sunroof, dual-zone climate control, head up display, 360 degree cameras, active cruise control, a few extra active safety functions like rear cross-traffic alert, blind-sport warning, lane change assist, and the novel misacceleration mitigation system which is designed to avoid driving into stationary objects.

If you’re not an Android Auto or Apple CarPlay user, you will likely be miffed at the lack of built-in sat nav on either grade, but we reckon the smartphone-mirroring route is the better option for the long term.

It’s also worth noting that only the front half of the dual sunroof on the Exceed opens, but both sections have electronic shades that can block light 100 per cent. 

Based on Mitsubishi’s marketing to date, you might be surprised to find that the Eclipse Cross is available in colours other than red, and possibly grateful given the new 'Brilliant Red' hue is an $890 option. All other metallic colours will cost you an extra $590, with the sole cost-free paint option being white. 

Engine & trans

Mahindra XUV5006/10

There's a diesel engine currently available, but the clock is ticking - Mahindra expects it to be phased out within six months. But the big news here is the new petrol engine, a turbocharged 2.2-litre unit good for 103kW/320Nm. It's paired exclusively with an Aisin-developed six-speed automatic transmission, and will send it's power to the front or all four wheels.

Mahindra doesn't quote official performance figures, but those engine outputs hardly scream excitement, do they?


Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross8/10

Another element that probably propels the Eclipse Cross to the top of the small mid-size SUV class is its new engine and transmission. 

Australia misses out on the diesel option available overseas, in favour of a new all-aluminium 1.5-litre petrol turbo motor that sports both direct and multi-port injection as well as variable valve timing. 

This smaller capacity, turbocharged formula is still spreading through the mainstream brands, and brings the key benefit of delivering maximum torque from lower in the rev range (from 1800rpm in this instance).

Engine specs of 110kW/250Nm are more than enough horsepower and urge for the 1490-1555kg SUV, with the other key part of the equation being a new CVT auto transmission. No, there’s no manual option

There is the opportunity to have your Eclipse Cross with all-wheel drive (4WD), however, with the top-spec Exceed available in all-paw form for an extra $2500. 

Another surprise is the Eclipse Cross’s braked towing capacity of 1600kg. Applying to both front- and all-wheel drivetrains, this comfortably eclipses its closest rivals and is backed by a healthy gross vehicle mass of 2100kg, which results in a generous gross combination mass of 3700kg.

Fuel consumption

Mahindra XUV5006/10

Local numbers are yet to be confirmed, but after an admittedly vigorous local test, the on-board computers was reading 13+ litres per 100km. All XUV500's are fitted with a 70-litre fuel tank.  


Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross7/10

Official combined fuel economy figures of 7.3L/100 km for the front-wheel drive versions and 7.7L/100km for the all-wheel drive are only average for a car of this size, but are somewhat balanced by the engine’s surprising ability to cope with Regular 91 RON unleaded. 

Most small turbo motors insist on Premium 95 RON to do their best, so the Mitsubishi’s actual fuel costs would look a bit rosier than what the windscreen label suggests. Using this week as an example, Regular 91 is 12.4 cents per litre cheaper than Premium 95 on average in Sydney. 

Over a 448km weekend, our Eclipse Cross two-wheel drive was showing 9.6L/100km on the trip computer, which isn’t brilliant, but we did cover plenty of urban driving and bush exploration.

Driving

Mahindra XUV5006/10

About as old school as rocking a pair of button-up tracksuit pants with a Run-DMC cassette stuffed into your Walkman.

On a straight and unchallenging road, there's stuff to like about the petrol-powered XUV500. The engine, while gruff under heavy acceleration, doesn't feel too wheezy when you're not asking a great deal of it, and nor is the cabin overly loud at suburban speeds. It's a comfortable space for driver and passengers, too, and the gearbox performed seamlessly on our short test drive.

But that's about where the good news ends. There's an unshakeable agricultural feel to the way this Mahindra SUV goes about its business, and nowhere is that more obvious than through the steering wheel, which has only a vague and difficult relationship with the the front tyres, making it seriously tricky to approach twisting roads with anything approaching confidence.

The steering is slow and cumbersome - light when you first begin turning the wheel, with a ton of weight appearing by surprise midway through the cornering process - and it has a tendency to fight back should the front wheels find a bump or corrugation in the road, too. 

The body lolls about when challenged, too, and the tyres are quick to give up their grip on tighter corners. All of which would give it a certain retro charm if it wasn't so very new, and I must admit I was cackling maniacally on some of the more twisting roads.

But it's simply not a car I could live with.


Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross8/10

If you’ve been hanging out for the Eclipse’s arrival, you may recall our very brief experience with a prototype version in the Northern Territory late last year. Driven back-to-back with the now aged Outlander and even older ASX, the Eclipse Cross felt smoother, quieter and more comfortable in general. As you’d hope. 

Now that we've driven it extensively on the road, I can tell you it's still a nice thing in reality. 

The ride comfort is particularly good - even on 18-inch wheels - and noise insulation is impressive for a mainstream model like this.

We didn’t push it too hard with the family on board, but it felt stable around corners and the engine had plenty of urge around town, at highway speeds and up hills. If I were to quite a 0-100km/h figure (not that Mitsubishi quotes one) it would hardly do the drivetrain justice. It just works well in the real world. 

We’re generally not a fan of CVT autos because of their tendency to groan and flare engine revs, but the turbo’s low down grunt means the new transmission rarely gets the chance to make its presence known. The two complement each other very well. 

The steering feel is vastly better than the numbness of the Outlander, with the only real criticism being the rather rough leather on the wheel itself.

Driver visibility is quite a surprise considering the sloping roofline and split rear window, in that it’s quite good, and the door-mounted mirrors help eliminate blind-spots up front. 

We didn’t take the Eclipse Cross too far off-road at its Tasmanian launch event, but we did manage to safely traverse two hard-packed beaches on Bruny Island. These were Jetty Beach and Cloudy Bay if you’re ever in the area, and provided a nice little taste of adventure considering we were piloting a two-wheel drive Exceed. 

For those interested in taking the Eclipse Cross further, both two- and all-wheel drive versions have a useful ground clearance of 183mm, with 18.8 degree entry and 29.2 degree departure angles. We plan to put the all-wheel drive through its paces on a proper adventure test shortly.

Safety

Mahindra XUV5006/10

Expect dual front, front-side and curtain airbags (though the latter don't extend to the third row of seats), along with rear parking sensors and ESP. Stepping up to the W8 trim adds a reversing camera with dynamic guidelines. The XUV500 was awarded a four-star (out of five) ANCAP assessment when tested in 2012.


Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross8/10

All Eclipse Crosses are covered by a maximum five-star ANCAP rating (tested 2017), with the key pluses being standard AEB plus dual front, side head and chest airbags, plus a seventh airbag for the driver’s knees. 

The LS also comes with lane departure warning, but the top Exceed adds 360 degree cameras, active cruise control, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-sport warning, lane change assist, and a novel 'Misacceleration Mitigation System' which is designed to avoid driving into stationary objects.

Ownership

Mahindra XUV5007/10

All XUV500s are covered by a five year/100,000km warranty (though the final two years apply only to the drivetrain), along with five years of complimentary roadside assistance.

The XUV500 is also covered by Mahindra's capped-price servicing program for the first three years of ownership, and will require servicing every six months or 10,000km.


Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross8/10

Like all Mitsubishi vehicles, the Eclipse Cross is covered by a five-year/100,000km warranty, which also covers perforation corrosion for five years. Five years still beats the industry standard of three, but some brands offer unlimited kilometre coverage. 

Service intervals are 15,000km or 12 months, with capped price servicing for the first three services of $300, $400 and $400 respectively.