By Mike Torpey on 2019-01-12 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
THE launch of Mitsubishi's new Eclipse Cross model not only signalled a new breed of SUV from the Japanese company, but also a huge endorsement for its design and engineering teams.
As part of the powerful Renault-Nissan Alliance, now responsible for one in every 10 cars produced worldwide, Mitsubishi could have been subjected to some interference from the powers that be.
But the fact that there has been zero interference from their heavyweight partners regarding either the styling or powertrain - the engines are produced entirely by Mitsubishi - is testament to the quality, vision and dynamics of the Eclipse Cross.
Mitsubishi calls that design sculptured dynamism, and it's easy to understand why.
Sitting between the ASX and larger Outlander models in size, the new SUV takes the brand into the mid-size SUV arena for the first time.
And fronted by a trademark Dynamic Shield face, it stands out from the crowd with a distinctive crossover/coupe style with lots of smart brightwork, sharply flowing lines and LED lighting all round.
Inside, the feeling is one of a solidly put together, durable and upmarket vehicle, with piano black and carbon elements around the dash, steering wheel and door panels adding extra quality.
The layout is also logical and uses an imaginary line across the cabin - everything above it is information and everything below the axis concerns operation.
Passenger space is ample all-round - even a centre rear passenger gets a level, comfortable perch - and the boot can cope with three golf bags, even with the rear seats slid fully back.
If you opt for the top spec Eclipse Cross 4 trim grade there's soft leather seating and upholstery that's up there with the best.
In fact the only negative aspect - in this case in the pursuit of styling - is the split level rear windscreen which can affect visibility.
The range starts at Eclipse Cross 2 costing from £21,275 for a six-speed manual front wheel drive model and featuring the 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine used throughout the line-up.
It costs Â£28,165 for the tested ‘4' version with all-wheel drive and a new CVT automatic gearbox that includes a Sport Mode controlled via steering wheel paddle shifters.
Every version is well kitted out though and Mitsubishi has identified ‘cool technologies' as a key aspect of its sales strategy.
Among the goodies are a new Smartphone Link Display Audio set-up using a seven-inch touchscreen and which supports Apple CarPlay, Android Auto plus Google Maps and Google Play.
There's also a head-up display from ‘3' grade upwards, an around vehicle monitor with bird-view image, cruise control and safety gear like forward collision mitigation, lane departure warning, blind spot alert and adaptive cruise control.
The 1.5-litre petrol engine produces 163bhp and is adequate for the size of vehicle, giving the Eclipse Cross plenty of punch - unless you press the ECO button which instantly makes the Mitsubishi feel weighed down.
Nonetheless the car is nimble for an SUV, has light steering, feels well damped and is certainly a match for rivals like the Kia Sportage, Peugeot 3008 and Nissan Qashqai.
Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross 4
Mechanical: 163bhp, 1,499cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving four wheels via automatic gearbox
Max Speed: 124mph
0-62mph: 9.8 seconds
Combined MPG: 40.4
Insurance Group: 20
C02 emissions: 159g/km
Bik rating: 32%
Warranty: 5yrs/62,500 miles
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