You know that kid. The one leaping up and down in the crowd yelling “pick me! Pick me” but is always the last one to be selected for any team games.
That is kind of the situation for Mitsubishi in South Africa but yet, when picked, turns out to be a much better player than expected.
The latest version of the Eclipse Cross sporting the 2,0-litre powerplant logically comes up against the Mazda CX-3 2.0, Suzuki Vitara 1.6 GLX and the soon-to-be-launched Toyota Corolla Cross hybrid and, while pricier than all of them, does offer some standard features some, or all, do not.
If you add in the individual cost of each item to the opposition list, the price factor evens out quite significantly, making the value for money proposition on the Eclipse much better than a first glance at the price tag would suggest.
Now in its second generation, the latest version has vibrant styling that expresses a fresh sportiness and stylishness – a balance between the sporty wedge shape of a coupé and the practicality, space and comfort of a SUV.
With an increased length of 140 mm, the Eclipse Cross offers improved interior room and the rear has evolved from the previous shape and the split rear tailgate window has been replaced by a sculpted hexagonal design with a single piece of glass.
The rear lamps now have a distinctive three-dimensional Y-shaped design, and extend upward and inward to follow the shape of the outside of the tailgate glass.
Not only was the SUV redesigned but it gained features such as electrically adjustable foldaway mirrors with indicator light, projector LED headlights with levelling device, daytime running lights (DRL), dusk-sensing headlamps, front fog lamps, rain-sensing windscreen wipers, front and rear park distance control, rear spoiler with high-mounted stop lamp, front bumper skid plate, 18-inch alloy wheels and roof rails.
On the inside, the longer length of the body also means a larger boot capacity of 437 litres, increasing to 1 074 litres with the rear seats folded flat without compromising on the spare wheel tyre size.
Luxury and convenience interior fittings include smartphone Link Display Audio (SDA), new premium Mitsubishi power sound system, tilt and telescopic steering wheel, multi-function leather steering wheel with audio and cruise control, Bluetooth connectivity with hands-free voice control, paddle shifts, power windows front and rear, central locking with auto door lock, full automatic air-conditioning with rear passenger vent duct, leather seats, electric seat adjustment for driver and front passenger, heated seats up front, 60/40 split rear seats and accessory sockets and USB ports.
In short, pretty much everything any driver needs.
The 2,0-litre MIVEC DOHC 16-valve four-cylinder engine uses a multipoint fuel injection system and offers 110 kW of power at 6 000 r/min and peak torque of 198 Nm at 4 200 r/min.
Coupled to this engine is Mitsubishi’s six-step INVECS-III CVT. I still dislike CVT gearboxes but at least this one does a lot less whining as it searches for a suitable ratio. With the paddle shifts the driver regains control and can manually ‘select’ a gear, making the process of moving more briskly or overtaking more positive.
Of its peers, the Mitsubishi is not the most economical and my test average came in at 8,3 l/100 km (7,9 claimed by Mitsubishi). However, it is bigger than those peers so size and space need to be weighed up against the fuel figures and how the vehicle is going to be utilised.
Out on the road, though, the suitably high seating position provides a commanding view of the world at large and the power seat adjustment allows for fine-tuning of the seat position for maximum comfort on both long and short haul journeys.
Mitsubishi, for me, has always to build in a comforting sense of solidity to its vehicles and the Eclipse Cross sits firmly on the tarmac, yet is still nimble enough to pedal quickly when the occasion arises. It stays firmly fixed even through rapid directional changes and is more than happy to take on lesser travelled dirt roads without faltering.
In terms of safety, it comes fully kitted with Mitsubishi’s reinforced impact safety evolution (RISE) body construction, seven crash bags, side-impact protection bars, ISOFIX child seat anchors, anti-lock braking with brake assist (BAS), electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), active yaw control, hill start assist (HAS), active stability and traction control (ASCT) and a rear-view camera on the list.
Enhancing the value proposition is a 3-year/100 000 km warranty, a 5-year/90 000 km service plan and 5-year/unlimited mileage roadside assistance. Service intervals are set at 15 000 km.