The Mitsubishi Eclipse has been around since 1990, until a green one with unlimited manual gears was popularised in the first The Fast and the Furious movie in 2001. While that movie franchise is still ongoing, the Eclipse sports coupe took a break in 2012. It’s back now as the 2018 Eclipse Cross, embodying Mitsubishi’s committment to become an SUV-focused carmaker. We took it for a stroll around the Dubai Autodrome at its UAE launch.
If your haven’t noticed yet, the Eclipse Cross is a crossover, albeit one with a sharply-sloping rear window to remind you of sporty-coupe styling. It is the company’s third crossover to be based on the Outlander platform after the Mitsubishi ASX, and their fifth SUV in a line that includes the Pajero and the Montero Sport.
All models come with 18-inch alloys, LED running lights and front fog lamps, so all three trim levels appear identical from the outside.
Inside, there is a decent amount of soft-touch surfaces on the dash and front doors, while the rear gets hard plastic door panels. All doors have padded armrests and inserts. The upholstery is cloth on the base model and leatherette on the top model.
Cabin space is very good, even in the back. The boot is decently sized, but not much more than a hatchback. There is a roll-out cover to hide cargo, and a full-size spare wheel below raises the boot floor a fair bit.
The tech in the base model is limited to a basic colour multimedia touchscreen in a large dash-top housing that makes it look like a CRT monitor. There are also power windows, basic keyless entry, two airbags and a proper handbrake. Higher models get cruise control, smart keyless entry and start, heads-up display, a better touchscreen stereo, heated seats, side/curtain airbags and an electronic parking brake, aside fom blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning and forward collision mitigation.
Powered by a 148 hp 1.5-litre turbo four with 250 Nm of torque coming in at 2000 rpm, the motor is mated to an “8-speed” automatic, essentially a CVT with simulated gear-shifts that just drop the revs at specific intervals while pretending to be a “smooth” gearbox. There is a tiptronic function on the shifter too. It only comes in front-wheel-drive form, with no all-wheel-drive option available.
The acceleration is decent, with a moderately punchy low-end kick that builds up to reasonably adequate power. The ride seems smooth, but then again, we were on a super-smooth racetrack. Noise levels don’t go beyond moderate levels at full throttle.
Grip levels from the 225/55 tyres are fair, and the handling is surprisingly flat. There is not much steering feedback to speak of, but the brakes are decent. We didn’t drive at more than 100 kph during the handful of laps we did though.
The Eclipse Cross may not be a sports coupe any more, but if you can look beyond the name, it is a very acceptable crossover that makes for a great alternative to a compact sedan, at not much more in terms of price.
For prices and specs, visit the Mitsubishi buyer guide.
Photos by Mashfique Hussain Chowdhury.