Mazda CX-30 VS Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross
- Beautiful design
- Great safety gear
- Better practicality than CX-3
- Back seat still tight
- Boot still a bit small
- Engines could be better
Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross
- Overall fresh feel
- Impressive practicality for size
- AEB standard
- Cabin plastics feel more durable than luxurious
- Sloping roof eats into back seat access
Think the Mazda CX-3 is a bit too small for your requirements, and the CX-5’s just a bit too big? If you answered ‘yes’, the new Mazda CX-30 2020 could be what you need in your life.
It’s sized almost the same as a Nissan Qashqai, Mitsubishi ASX and Kia Seltos, though Mazda’s aspirations with this particular SUV seemingly stretch beyond the mainstream players into premium territory. The company is pitching higher-spec models of the new CX-30 as alternatives to luxury compact models - and that’s easy to understand, given it costs almost as much as a CX-5, but you’re not going to be getting as much metal for your money.
So, is the CX-30 premium enough to command its high-ish price? And what’s it like in all the other important ways that an SUV needs to be? I’ll walk you through all that and more in this review.
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
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.
|Engine Type||1.5L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
The Mazda CX-30 is not doubt going to be the right size SUV for a lot of customers out there who think the CX-3 is too small and the CX-5 too large.
More than that, though, it’s an impressive standalone compact SUV that, even if not the most practical choice, has safety and perceived plushness on its side.
For this writer, the pick of the range would be the mid-spec G20 Touring, which has a lot of the luxuries you’d want, a price tag that isn’t too egregious at just below $35k before on-roads, and I’d probably option the Vision Technology package as well.
Check out our 2019 review:
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:
There is no denying that the CX-30 has some beautiful angles, gorgeous lines, and interesting finishes used.
But it’s not so much the ‘new generation Kodo design’ that makes this CX-30 an important addition to the range. Nope, this time it’s all about size.
Mazda Australia says the CX-30 was designed to be city friendly in its size, but still comfortable enough for four adults. I’ll talk about that second claim in the next section of the review, but the exterior size is what I want to address here.
The new Mazda CX-30’s dimensions are: 4395mm long (on a 2655mm wheelbase), 1795mm wide and 1540mm tall. That mightn’t mean much to you, but consider this: it’s as close as it can be to the likes of the Nissan Qashqai, Mitsubishi ASX and Kia Seltos, and that’s clearly becoming a bit of a sweet spot in the small SUV segment when it comes to size.
It isn’t as square-backed as those rivals, with a sleek roofline and adorns the CX-30 with a considerably more sporty look. But as the chief designer for the CX-30, Ryo Yanagisawa, said at the launch, the new model still has elements that help ground it as the sort of ‘active lifestyle’ model that people want, such as the prominent black body cladding around the lower edges of the car.
The look could be enough for you to be sold on the CX-30, and I completely understand that. It is beautiful, and looks stunning with the brand’s signature Soul Red Crystal paint.
But there are some elements that might stand out to you. For me, the 16-inch wheels on the lower grade models look a little too small to fill those black-clad guards. And the fact Mazda has chosen to fit halogen daytime running lights but LED headlights on all but the Astina models is baffling. It’s the same on the Mazda3.
But there are some other bits that are just charming, like the way the blinkers pulse rather than strobe or simply flick on and off. Yanagisawa-san said that was design to issue an emotive response. It works.
Inside there are some really interesting design elements - it may look nearly identical to the new-generation Mazda3, but there are some differences, including the coloured trim bits on the doors and dash. See the interior images to make up your mind on those.
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.
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.
If you’re considering a small SUV, there’s a chance you fall into one of two camps.
The first is the practical buyer who wants a cleverly packaged SUV, one that some how manages to fit more space into its dimensions than seems physically possible.
The second is the one the CX-30 fits into. It’s for the sort of buyer who wants the typical higher driving position and prioritises the front seat space over how big the boot or back seat is. I’m not saying that if you’re that kind of buyer, you should just get a hatchback. But seriously. Maybe you should. And a cushion so you can sit a little higher.
The CX-30 isn’t as cramped as a CX-3 when it comes to space utilisation, but it does prioritise the up-front experience, that’s for sure.
The dash layout is very familiar to the Mazda 3, with a sleek looking (non-touch) screen floating on the dashboard, a nice digital instrument cluster and head-up display, and quality dash-top, centre tunnel padding and door elbow pad materials. What gets my goat is that the base model has a plastic steering wheel, which betrays the primo push, and I’m really, really not a fan of the blue Maztex fake-leather finish in terms of its colour.
While the media screen is nicer than other models in the Mazda range, it’s not a touch-capacitive unit, and that means your phone mirroring tech - which is designed to mirror your phone’s screen onto a touchscreen, which is why it’s called what it is - is rendered a bit useless, as you have to (rather frustratingly) use the rotary dial controller instead. Imagine using a mouse to play with your smartphone, and that’s about the level of ‘oh that’s just annoying’ you’ll probably experience.
The storage up front is good, with a wide and large covered centre console bin with a nice soft elbow pad on it, plus a pair of cup holders between the seats and bottle holders in the doors (front and rear).
The back seat story isn’t as passenger-friendly. The base model misses out on cup holders and rear seat directional air vents, while the higher grade versions get a fold-down armrest with two cup holsters. There is only one seat-back map pocket across the range, and no model comes with rear seat USB or 12-volt power points.
The space for occupants in the back is also only okay. With the driver’s seat set for my own position (I’m 182cm), my knees were hard against the seat in front. So, knee room is tight, but toe-room seemed fine, and headroom was fine in all but the G25 Astina as it has a sunroof that eats into head space a bit. Three across the back won’t be comfortable, but it is doable for smaller occupants, though there is a large transmission tunnel intrusion in the floor.
Kids in booster seats are likely to be better catered for than youngsters in capsules, though there are dual ISOFIX and three top-tethers.
When it comes to boot capacity, the luggage space could certainly be better. Mazda claims 317 litres of boot room (VDA), which is small for the class. We didn’t have the CarsGuide pram or suitcases on hand to see how it handled that sort of load, but we’ll cover that off in a future test.
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
How much does a Mazda CX-30 cost? Let’s run through the model range, from base model through to top of the range.
The Mazda CX-30 line-up is delineated by two different engines - and it’s easier to look at it that way, so we’ll take a look at the entry-level G20 variants, all fitted with 2.0-litre front-wheel drive auto model first off (engine specs below).
The G20 Pure opens the range at $29,990 before on-road costs. The Pure model is fitted with 16-inch alloy wheels and a space-saver spare, push-button start, a rear spoiler, tyre pressure monitoring, LED headlights, halogen daytime running lights (DRLs), a reversing camera and rear parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, cloth interior trim, a plastic steering wheel, a colour head-up display, an 8.8-inch multimedia system with satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity (but no touchscreen), eight speaker stereo, and a 7.0-inch driver information display. Safety spec across the range is generous, but we’ll get to that in the safety section below.
The G20 Evolve adds $1500 to the price, listing at $31,490 (MSRP/RRP). The Evolve adds elements including 18-inch wheels, dual-zone climate control and a leather-bound steering wheel with paddle shifters.
Next up is the G20 Touring, which costs $34,990 and comes with a different grille to help differentiate it from the Evolve, along with additional spec items like advanced keyless entry, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, electric front seat adjustment, front parking sensors and a sunglass storage box. This model marks the point where black leather interior trim is standard.
The top-of-the-range G20 model is the Astina, which is $38,990 +ORCs. That seems a big jump over the Touring, and it adds 12-speaker Bose stereo and the choice of black or white leather, depending on the exterior colour chosen. There’s also LED adaptive headlights with LED daytime running lights, heated front seats and a heated steering wheel. But the Astina also scores the Vision Technology Pack (which costs $1300 on the Touring and $1500 on the lower grade models) and it adds a surround-view monitor with 360 degree camera, front cross-traffic alert, driver monitor and ‘Cruising & Traffic Support’ (CTS) - a semi-autonomous mode for speeds up to 60km/h.
Above and beyond the G20 variants there’s the G25 models, which pack a bigger 2.5-litre engine with more power and torque. These models still have a six-speed auto, but there’s the choice for 2WD or all-wheel drive.
The CX-30 G25 is only available in two trim levels, but with 2WD or AWD. The standard specification list mimics the G20 models, except for the G25 Astina, which adds a tilt and slide sunroof (not a panoramic glass roof).
The G25 Touring is the more affordable, priced from $36,490 for the front-wheel drive model. If you think you need all- wheel drive, you’ll have to add a further two grand to the price ($38,490)
The G25 Astina range-topping version tips at $41,490 for the two-wheel drive, and $43,490 for the AWD - meaning the flagship is close to BMW, Mercedes, Audi and Volvo territory. I guess that’s what premium aspirations will get you.
There’s no denying the CX-30 is equipped decently, especially at the higher levels, but it is perilously close to falling into the ‘expensive’ category if you’re considering what else is out there in mainstream small SUV land.
Colours available for the CX-30 include the following free options: Snowflake White Pearl Mica, Sonic Silver Metallic, Titanium Flash Mica (bronze or brown, depending on who you ask), Deep Crystal Blue Mica and Jet Black Mica. There’s also a few optional colours: Soul Red Crystal, Machine Grey Metallic and the newly added Polymetal Grey Metallic, which is a blue/grey finish.
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
There’s no doubt the CX-30 is going to appeal to people on its looks, cabin and equipment levels, but the engine story leaves a little to be desired.
That’s because the company is launching this all-new model with similar drivetrains that it has had as part of its stable for the best part of a decade.
The base model G20 is powered by a very familiar 2.0-litre four-cylinder ‘SkyActiv’ engine producing 114kW of power (at 6000rpm) and 200Nm of torque (at 4000rpm). These models are front-wheel drive with a six-speed automatic transmission as standard.
And above that is the expected 2.5-litre four-cylinder ‘SkyActiv’ powerplant, which outputs 139kW of power (at 6000rpm) and 252Nm of torque (at 4000rpm). It comes with a standard-fit six-speed auto, too, and the choice of front- or all-wheel drive. There will be a slight wait time for the AWD models - Mazda reckons they’ll be here in March 2020.
For this writer, if you’re pitching the all-new CX-30 as a premium offering, there’s an argument it should have debuted some new level of powertrain tech - but there’s no hybrid, no downsized turbo, no electric, no plug-in hybrid… you don’t even get to do the petrol vs diesel equation, as there’s no turbo diesel versions of the CX-30 offered in Australia.
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).
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 economy for the CX-30 is going to be considered a strong suit. Even if there is no hybrid element to the drivetrain, the company’s engine tech does have efficiency on its side.
The claimed fuel use for the G20 FWD models is 6.5 litres per 100 kilometres. That’s good for the class.
The G25 FWD models claim just a little more, at 6.6L/100km, and part of that comes down to the fact the G25 engine has cylinder deactivation, so it can run on two cylinders under light load.
The G25 AWD fuel use claim is higher, but only just, at 6.8L/100km.
Fuel tank capacity for the CX-30 2WD is 51 litres, while there’s a further small penalty for the AWD system in terms of its fuel tank size: 48L.
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.
The Mazda CX-30 continues the brand’s progress in the world of refinement, and this could be the quietest Mazda I’ve ever driven.
Well, at least in terms of road noise and wind noise, that is - the engines can still be noisy at idle and as revs rise, and that’s more noticeably the case in the G20 versions.
The engines - as detailed above - are largely very familiar, and that means there are similar positives and negatives.
The G20’s engine is a little breathless at times, and the six-speed auto is mostly good at keeping momentum moving, though when not in Sport mode the transmission will tend to upshift to try and save fuel.
The G25 feels more urgent and punchy, and it gets along with more ease than the lesser-engined variants. The six-speed auto, again, shifts well, but wants to stick to higher gears unless you’re hassling the throttle.
Both are arguably more user-friendly than rivals that employ downsized turbo engines, or those with continuously variable transmission (CVT) autos, but both also feel buzzy and less refined in some instances.
The brake performance is okay, but the pedal feel could be better - it’s a bit spongey, and that can sap your confidence a bit when you’re hitting the brakes hard.
The steering is mostly very good, with a nice weighting and feel to it that some other SUVs in this segment simply don’t even come close to. There is some rack rattle and kickback over mid-corner bumps though.
The ride, too, is good most of the time. At higher speeds on the open road it tends to behave more maturely, especially in the base Pure model with the 16-inch wheels clad in 215/65 Bridgestone eco-rubber. These tyres aren’t as grippy as the lower-profile Dunlop SP Sport Maxx on the other models (215/55), but the smaller-wheel package and larger sidewall to the tyre certain helps the ride comfort on jittery surfaces at pace.
As we’ve noted in other Mazda models, the suspension is seemingly less impressive at lower speeds, with sharp edges upsetting the Macpherson front struts and torsion beam rear suspension more notably - once again, it’s worse on the bigger wheel package. Though based on our drive time in the CX-30, it is more resolved than, say, the CX-3, and it feels more than a generation more advanced than that car in terms of overall maturity.
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.
The Mazda CX-30 scored a five-star ANCAP crash test rating based on 2019 criteria, and in the process it scored the highest-ever adult pedestrian protection score (99 per cent) for the regime.
It has plenty of safety inclusions as standard, too - not just six airbags (dual front, front side, curtain) and a reversing camera and rear parking sensors, but a standard auto emergency braking (AEB) system with pedestrian and cyclist detection, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning and lane keeping assist, radar active cruise control, auto high-beam headlights, rear cross traffic alert, traffic sign recognition and driver drowsiness warning.
There’s also an optional additional safety pack, known as Vision Technology ($1500 on Pure and Evolve, $1300 on Touring, standard on Astina) which comprises a 360-degree surround view camera, front parking sensors, a system called Cruising and Traffic support (with a degree of semi-autonomous driving at lower speeds), a driver monitoring camera and front cross traffic alert.
All CX-30 models have a pair of ISOFIX child seat anchor points and three top tether points for baby seats.
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.
Mazda backs its entire range of models with a five-year unlimited kilometre warranty plan, which is the mainstream standard these days.
The Japanese company does, however, require maintenance more regularly than some rivals, with service intervals set at 12 months/10,000km - not as generous as most others (typically 12 months/15,000km).
The servicing costs are decent, however, with G20 models under the Mazda capped price servicing plan covered for five years/50,000km at an average cost of $327 per visit. The G25 versions are set at an average price of $332.60 per service visit, and that’s for both 2WD and AWD models.
Worried about Mazda CX-30 problems? Concerns over reliability, faults, common complaints and issues? Check out our Mazda CX-30 problems page.
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.