Tag: Mitsubishi

Is bigger better? The new Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

Automotive brands are no strangers to pulling at the heartstrings of buyers. One such method is to revive a revered nameplate as a more commercially viable vehicle. The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross does exactly this. While it may have been reincarnated as a coupe SUV in 2017 to entice younger buyers who were familiar with the Eclipse of the 90’s, three years on and it has already received a facelift. The extra length and updated looks are intended to make it a more approachable option for buyers with an itch to explore. We spent a few days with it in the Lowveld to find out if the updates have allowed it to grow into what it was intended to be. 

Most of the buying demographic of a compact SUV like the Eclipse Cross are young, adventure-orientated individuals that prioritize versatility when shopping for a car. Options which do away with low profile tyres and focus more on ground clearance plays into the hand of automakers with a broad portfolio of SUVs. It is no secret that affordable sports cars and coupes are a dying breed with SUVs being at the forefront of the culling, so combining traits of both into one should be the solution to appease those who want both, right?

The Eclipse Cross could be categorized simply as a Compact Crossover SUV but Mitsubishi insist that their derivative is a coupe SUV, which is claimed to combine the best of both worlds. The intention is to morph an athletic and sporty aesthetic into a practical and usable vehicle that is not restricted by any road surface it may encounter.

The aesthetics are intended to be sporty, so both the front and rear have been significantly redesigned to encompass this methodology. The rear-end is the most significant change, it has gone under the scalpel and comes out 140mm longer than before. This not only affords bonus boot capacity but the rake of the reshaped bootlid creates a much sleeker looking design from the side profile which alludes to its supposed coupe DNA.

The Pontiak Aztek inspired split rear-screen has also been ditched for a minimal and neat LED rear tailight design that runs vertically adjacent to the rear screen. While it may not be something that Walter White would spend his money on, it does create a pleasant looking rear end that has greatly improved on its predecessor.

At first glance, the front end may seem similar from before but it has undergone a few aesthetic changes which create a much more cohesive and futuristic appeal. The imperative was to fully embrace Mitsubishi’s dynamic shield concept which is their internal design language that is intended to express powerful and dynamic design.

The split headlight configuration that is becoming more common on newer cars has been well executed on the Eclipse Cross while chrome accents frame the large plastic grille which feed into the sleek DRL’s. 

While it will always remain subjective, this is one of the more attractive offerings in comparison to its competition. The angular dynamic shield inspired front end from Mitsubishi, which is becoming a more prominent feature on their new offerings, also distinguishes the Eclipse Cross from the general monotony of the segment.

In terms of driving appeal, an SUV will always struggle to recreate the dynamics of a coupe or sportscar. While it is internally categorized by Mitsubishi as a coupe SUV, it simply lacks any true sportiness to set the world on fire. Marketing strategy and classification aside, it drives and corners very well for an SUV of its size despite its height and ground clearance of 180mm.

The front wheels are powered by one of two options, one of them being the latest turbocharged powerplant on offer by Mitsubishi; the MIVEC 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine which delivers peak performance of 110kW with 250Nm. Alternatively, the less desirable but slightly cheaper 2.0L GLS CVT 4×2 naturally aspirated derivative is equipped with 110kW of power and 198Nm of peak torque. In the solitary driving mode, both are claimed to achieve just below 8.0l/100km but our turbocharged derivative averaged 9.1/100km in extra-urban conditions while stretching its legs on the open road achieved a lower average of 7.2l/100km.

Our test car was equipped with the 1.5-litre drivetrain which is more than sufficient and undoubtedly the option you would want to drive. The power is readily available in all driving conditions and occasional but mild torque steer from full throttle pull aways can result in some unwarranted tyre shriek.

It comfortably managed with low speed, sedate urban commutes as well as comfortable open road cruising and this is credit to its transmission. As far as CVT’s go, the 8-step variation in the Eclipse Cross is the best one I have experienced so far. It is comfortable, refined and well suited to the turbocharged motor which is relaxingly quiet throughout most of the rev range. 

The chassis and suspension is more suited to the SUV side of things than anything coupe or sports car-like and that is ok since the rest of the experience inspires as much tranquility as the drivetrain does. Traversing on a multitude of surfaces including highways, rough countryside tarmac and even dirt trails exceeded comfort expectations.

The suspension confidently soaks up rough surfaces and potholed roads with very little disturbance to the cabin. Roadway noise is generally unnoticeable until speeds of 100kmh are exceeded, which even then remains ambient. 

Speaking of the cabin, it is a well laid out and comfortable place to be in – particularly from the driver’s seat. There is ample spaciousness in both rows with the driver and passenger receiving fully electric seat adjustment. The second row has angle adjustment only while isofix anchorage is concealed within the crevices of the seats. With these seats in their most upright position, the boot has a capacity of 437l while folding the 60/40 seats down allows for an impressive 1074l of cargo space. This is all without compromising on the spare wheel size but it does present a high loading lip and boot floor which is awkwardly shaped. While most new cars include many unnecessary gimmicks that add to the weight figure and price tag, the Eclipse Cross is a car that would have been well suited with an electrically operated tailgate since the redesign and sweeping profile make it heavy and difficult to interact with.

Other updates to the interior include a new 8” infotainment screen which has most of the functionality that you would expect in a new car. The overall user experience is let down by bootup latency and laggy operation but screen mirroring via USB cable is its saving grace. Once your music device is connected, the audio is projected through an impressive 8 speaker sound system which has enough bass to get the rear view mirror vibrating at full blast. The screen also projects a mediocre resolution reverse camera while park distance control is displayed on the drivers dials.

Other creature comforts for the front row include dual zone climate control with heated seats while a retractable Mitsubishi Motors Intuitive Technology (MiTEC) HUD is positioned just above the dashboard.

There are some gripes that the interior instills such as the hard to reach trip-meter buttons and a clumsy to interact with phone slot in front of the gear shifter but the worst offender of them all is the excessive use of piano black plastic and faux brushed aluminium which after a few thousand kilometers has already been tattered to the point where the car looks a decade old. That being said, there is still a premium feel within the interior, with soft touch points in every direction and a plush look dashboard.

While cheap, bottom of the barrel SUVs will continue to dominate sales charts, the more premium, value for money derivatives like the Eclipse Cross offer a more unique and high quality option that come loaded with standard features. The range starts at R459 995 for the 2.0L GLS while our top of the range test car, the 1.5L GLS comes in just shy of half a million at R499 995. Both models include 3-year/100 000km manufacturer warranty with a 5-year/90 000km service plan.

In comparison to some of its chief competitors which includes the likes of the Mazda CX-30 or Kia Seltos, the Eclipse Cross may be slightly down on tech but provides a superb ride with a high quality interior and an equally unique option in the generally monotonous looking market.

The Mitsubishi Pajero Sport

Overlooked & Under-appreciated

Oh boy, the large bakkie-based segment in South Africa is a tough market to play in. The Toyota Fortuner rules the roost while the likes of the Ford Everest, Isuzu MU-X, and Mitsubishi Pajero Sport all desperately cling onto the coattails of the Fortuner’s success.

Take nothing away from the Toyota, it is a very accomplished product which dazzles consumers with its storied badge and an expansive footprint across the country.

But I suspect that the light gleams too brightly as many are blinded to the breadths of talent in the rest of the segment. Take the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport for example. It undercuts both the Toyota and Ford by more than R100 000 in their most expensive specification; is not found wanting in any particular area and comes from a manufacturer that arguably has an equally impressive reputation for reliability and trustworthiness.

I unfortunately can’t account for consumers’ shopping behaviors so don’t expect any solid answers as to why we are a stubborn, single-minded bunch. But what I can tell you is why I think the updated Mitsubishi Pajero Sport is a cut above of the rest and at the very least, worth a visit to the showroom.

Mitsubishi South Africa introduced the refreshed Pajero Sport late last year with the introduction of the range-topping Exceed model as well. You’ll notice the new face which Mitsubishi calls their ‘Dynamic Shield’ design, which brings into line with the stablemates like the Triton, Eclipse Cross and ASX. At the rear, the tweaked tail lights have been shortened and feature a new LED signature.

Handsome looks aside, the updated Pajero Sport also offers a raft of interior updates. Although the design and layout remain the same, you now get an updated eight-inch touchscreen which supports both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, dual-zone air-conditioning including rear passenger controls, plus a leather-clad multifunction steering wheel, Bluetooth and voice control. On the safety front, each of the Pajero Sport’s 7 passengers are catered for in terms of an airbag.

Our range-topping Exceed 4×4 test unit also features a sliding sunroof, Mitsubishi Remote Control connectivity, and an electronic tailgate with kick sensors.

So, you’re certainly not lacking in terms of tech, style and amenities but one area where the Pajero Sport does fall slightly short is in the drivetrain department. You only have one option for both the engine and gearbox to choose from which is a 2.4l MIVEC turbo diesel engine, producing 133kW and 430Nm and linked to an eight-speed automatic transmission. And while it does a sufficient job of lugging about its large frame, there were instances where power waned and it struggled to keep up with the flow of traffic. But the majority of the time, accelerating and cruising at the national speed limit was a breeze and overall noise, vibration and harshness was low.  Mitsubishi claims an average fuel consumption of 8.1l/100 although I managed around the 8.7l/100 which is quite respectable.

While I never had the opportunity to take our test unit off the beaten track, I do have experience with Mitsubishi’s Super Select 4WD-II system and I can assure you that you will find very few obstacles in your path. For the average family, the Pajero Sport possesses more than enough capabilities to meet your families adventures and sum.

With pricing ranging from R624 995 for the base 4×2 model and extending all the way to R704 995 for the top of the range Exceed model, the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport makes a compelling case for itself. For similar outlay, you can get into a Toyota Fortuner equipped with the updated 2.8-litre engine, however, you only get that model in 4×2 guise and an additional R70 000 is needed to hop into the base 4×4 variant with that engine.

So the updated Mitsubishi Pajero Sport is truly the smart money in this segment, and it’s worth noting that it recently claimed the title of best large SUV/Crossover in CAR Magazine’s annual Top 12 Best Buys. Need I say more? Just go and visit one of their dealerships so you can see for yourself.