Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross long-term test review

Mitsubishi has plenty of experience with SUVs, but can its latest effort, the Eclipse Cross, go toe to toe with the class leaders? We've got four months to find out...

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross long-term test

The car Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross 1.5 Dynamic SE 2WD  Run by Max Edleston, junior photographer

Why it’s here To prove that Mitsubishi can fight among the best in the hotly contested family SUV class

Needs to Be comfortable and economical for long trips and function as a photographer’s mobile office when needed

Mileage 10,358 Price £23,670 Target Price £23,093 Price as tested £21,801 Test economy 34.4mpg Official economy 36.2mpg (WLTP combined) Private price now £13,500 Dealer price now £15,187 Trade-in price now £13,626 Total running cost £950 (fuel)

31 October 2019 – Holding out for a hero

In my introduction to the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross, four months and more than 10,000 miles ago, I spoke about what the Japanese brand meant to me growing up. You see, back in the early 2000s, Mitsubishi’s Lancer Evo performance saloon was fighting for top honours, both on the dirt track and in showrooms, against rivals that included the Nissan Skyline GTR and Subaru Impreza WRX. Between them, this sporty holy trinity filled magazine pages and video games galore. And in my youth, I was hooked.

At the beginning of my time with the Eclipse Cross, then, I was keen to find out if this family SUV could still elicit the same kind of buzz I felt driving a virtual Lancer Evo IX on my Playstation all those years ago. And despite how different both cars are on the outside, I think they share a similar ethos: offering buyers more, for less. In the case of the Evo IX, this was exceptional performance; while it couldn’t match the rival BMW E46 M3 in terms of refinement or comfort, it could beat it away from a set of traffic lights. Similarly, while the Eclipse Cross is neither as practical or as comfortable as some of its key rivals, the sheer amount of kit it comes with is staggering and far outstrips the more expensive competition.

Remember that the cost of my Eclipse Cross is just £23,670 (or £23,093 if you buy with What Car?’s Target Price discounts) and for that I got an extensive kit list including cruise control, heated seats, Apple CarPlay connectivity, keyless entry and auto-dimming headlights; the list goes on and on. These extras could potentially cost you thousands of pounds on the Eclipse Cross’ more premium rivals, so that’s a big plus point.

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross and Mitsubishi Lancer EVO IX

Not that everything comes up in the Mitsubishi’s favour, of course. The Eclipse Cross’s clutch pedal and six-speed manual gearbox are particular bugbears; I often found myself stalling or over-revving the engine as I pulled away from the lights, which I’m sure didn’t do my fuel economy any good. I also found third gear to be a real pain to engage; it would be fine during day-to-day driving, but it would often refuse to select trying to change gear more quickly, such as when accelerating onto a motorway, and would instead make a very loud and worrying grinding noise. 

Speaking of fuel economy, I found this to be mediocre at best. Even with my varied commute taking in plenty of motorway miles, I was still struggling to get anything more than 30mpg most days. I did eventually find the engine’s ‘eco’ mode, however, and with this engaged I eventually hit a high of 45mpg on some particularly frugal journeys and this helped to lift my overall average too.

And then there’s the way the Eclipse Cross looks. As I wrote in my last update, its styling is certainly subjective and has split opinions all around. And, while I like the way the front of the car looks, and even though the rear-end styling grew on me over time, I still think it looks a little incomplete. Like it’s trying to be too many things.

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross driving

So the big question, then, would I buy an Eclipse Cross? Well, I think you get a lot for your money in my Mitsubishi, both in terms of the size of the car and the equipment that comes with it. Ultimately, though, I’d steer towards one of its big-selling rivals, such as the Nissan Qashqai, Seat Ateca or Peugeot 3008. They’re on the whole better to drive, and in some cases more practical too.

That being said, there is something about the Eclipse Cross, something that, in a small way, echoes the heroes that adorned my bedroom wall as a small boy. It doesn’t quite give me the same buzz as those cars, but knowing the incredible heritage the Eclipse Cross has will always make me smile.

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