IT'S seems an absolute age since Mitsubishi brought out anything new but that has all changed now with the arrival of the Eclipse Cross model.
It's a medium sized SUV which fits snugly between the ASX and Outlander in the company's line-up of crossover vehicles.
With bold design cues and an athletic stance the Eclipse Cross looks impressive from any angle and with a pricing strategy that starts from just £21,275 it aims to draw buyers away from the likes of the Toyota C-HR, Nissan Qashqai, SEAT Ateca and Kia Sportage.
At present there is just one engine available - a newly developed 1.5-litre 163hp petrol unit, but there are plans to introduce a hybrid version later on and the company has not ruled out powering the car with a diesel engine.
Buyers can choose between manual or auto transmissions and there is the further choice of two or four wheel drive. Trim levels called Eclipse Cross 2, 3 and 4 are all generously equipped and there is a First Edition model that is limited to just 250 cars.
The Eclipse Cross is an instant attention grabber thanks to its distinctive SUV coupe design with strong flowing lines, a tapered roofline, short overhangs, muscular flared wheel arches, a panoramic sunroof, sculpted bonnet, privacy glass, sweeping light clusters with LED lights and a split-tailgate.
Move inside and there is a modern, clutter-free feel to the car with a wealth of on-board technology to explore.
A horizontal bar splits the dashboard into two with everything above it contributing to infotainment and everything below connected to operational functions. Mitsubishi claims it is the company's best interior design ever with high quality materials, soft touch surfaces, piano black and satin accents along with classy upholstery.
Creature comforts, depending on trim level, include the likes of smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, up-to-date mapping services with live traffic updates, a premium Rockford nine speaker sound system, seven-inch colour touchscreen, head up display, dual zone climate control, parking sensors, rearview camera, touchpad controller and plenty more besides.
However on the downside, it is worth noting that even the higher specced models don't have a sat nav built in, but instead they rely on a smartphone being connected.
That aside though, the interior is spacious with ample room in the back for a couple of six footers to sit comfortably and the rear seats can be moved forwards or backwards up to 20cms and have eight levels of recline.
The boot is generously sized too and its Japanese designers proudly boast it can hold three or four golf club bags with the rear seats in an upright position. The 60:40 split-folding rear seats would free up additional space and elsewhere throughout the car there are numerous convenient storage options including a glovebox with partition shelf, cup holders, door bins and a deep central box.
We tried out the First Edition model which is finished in a stunning premium red diamond colour and features some specific design traits to help it stand out in the Eclipse Cross line-up. These cosmetic touches include a red styling line along the sides of the car, silver flashes on the front and rear, First Edition badging and branded mats.
The first model, priced at £26,825, featured the six-speed manual gearbox and had 2WD. The car has the same performance capabilities as the Eclipse Cross 4 so can sprint from 0-62mph in 10.3 seconds, maxes out at 127mph and has combined fuel efficiency of 42.8mpg with carbon emissions of 151g/km.
Comfort levels within the car are excellent and there is ample seat and steering wheel adjustment. All the controls are ideally placed for ease of use and there is a rather clever touchpad - it takes a few minutes to get used to but once mastered, it is less of a distraction than buttons and switches.
In town centres, the Eclipse Cross was agile and easy to manoeuvre and the driver's all-round visibility is good. Then out on the faster roads the acceleration through the gears is both smooth and responsive.
Mitsubishi has introduced a rigid chassis to the vehicle and that helps with its ride and handling with excellent road-holding even when driven enthusiastically into bends. It delivers a sporty, engaging drive with plenty of driver feedback and the 1.5-litre engine offers all the firepower needed for everyday motoring.
We also tried the Eclipse Cross First Edition 4WD model with eight-speed automatic gearbox costing £29,750. This car can reach 62mph from a standing start in 9.8 seconds, tops out at 124mph and, according to official figures, can achieve combined fuel economy of 40.4mpg with CO2 emissions of 159g/km.
Once again this Eclipse Cross was a pleasure to drive and despite being fitted with a CVT gearbox, there was no sign of screaming sounds under heavy acceleration. The Steplogic gearbox feels like a normal automatic unit and there is a sport mode that can be accessed via steering wheel paddle shifters. The car also featured an on demand all-wheel-drive system with auto, snow and gravel settings.
Features such as the soundproof windscreen along with noise-damping rear suspension help to insulate the cabin against any road surface or engine noise giving the vehicle a refined feel.
And the Eclipse Cross is kitted out with a wealth of safety features that have helped it achieve the maximum five stars in Euro NCAP tests. These include forward collision mitigation system, lane departure warning system, automatic lights and high beam, rain-sensing wipers and seven airbags.
Other safety features available on the range-toppers are adaptive cruise control, 360-degree camera and rear cross traffic alert, plus blind spot warning with lane change assist.
All in all, the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is a fabulous new arrival into the bursting compact SUV sector and the company has set a target of 6,500 sales this year, but expects the real figure to be more.