Mitsubishi’s next new model here is a swank-looking SUV to slip between the ASX and Outlander.
PROSPECT of the Mitsubishi’s next crossover abetting the Outlander in progressing the brand’s electric vehicle programme are still unclear, yet it is nonetheless expected to give the sector a decent zap.
The Eclipse Cross might yet join the brand’s expanding SUV line-up before the end of this year, slipping between the ASX and the Outlander, the local distributor has confirmed.
Quite potentially set to be the last vehicle Mitsubishi will wholly design and engineer now that the brand is controlled by Nissan, the medium five-seater is being pitched as an especially sporty and premium crossover.
How that plays out in pricing is not yet known, however the message from local distributor Mitsubishi Motors New Zealand seems to be that we should not be surprised if it occupies the zone occupied by Outlander, which at the moment starts at just under $34,000.
At 4405mm long, 1805mm wide and 1685mm high, the Eclipse Cross is closer to ASX – even though it’s 50mm longer, 5mm wider and 45mm higher than the baby, the 2670mm wheelbase is a match.
However MMNZ new product spokesman Daniel Cook says this wholly new product will be more expensive.
“ASX has been in our lineup for a while and the RRP shows it is a really good value car,” he said.
“This (Eclipse Cross) will be more of a premium product in our range and the styling is more radical. I think that car will appeal to quite a different person than the ASX buyer, even though the dimensions are quite similar.”
Though the oldest offer in its specific crossover category, current ASX is expected to remain in circulation until at least 2019, he said.
“So this is definitely not a replacement. We have not yet seen a replacement for ASX – this is definitely an additional car in our range.”
As for this being the last Mitsubishi-designed Mitsubishi vehicle? Cook concurs that is quite possible. He anticipates future fare will come with platforms and drivetrains shared with Nissan, which now has a controlling shareholding.
But as for what that is and when it might come? That’s not something he’s privy to.
“I don’t know … they’ve only just started working together, but it seems obvious that will happen in due course.
“I have no direct knowledge of what is going on, but I imagine it’s a few years away because they all have their development schedules they are committed to.”
This could spell the end of the long-lived Lancer sedan, he thinks, as Nissan has also pulled the Pulsar and apparently has no replacement in mind.
However, that’s all the future. In the here and now, MMNZ is already thinking about how to extract best business from Eclipse Cross.
“We’re obviously very excited to get it here. We want to bring it in as soon as we can – probably at the end of this year or early next year.”
Tech wise, the new SUV features Mitsubishi’s Smartphone Link Display Audio system that supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto via a large touchscreen that sits atop the centre stack. It also has a head-up display.
Two powertrains will be offered, at least initially, starting with a new 1.5-litre direct-injection turbocharged petrol engine paired with a new continuously variable transmission (CVT) with an eight-speed Sport Mode manual override.
Mitsubishi’s 2.2-litre direct-injection turbo-diesel engine has been modified for the Eclipse Sport, according to the car-maker, and it will use a new eight-speed automatic transmission. It makes 110kW and 360Nm and consumes an average of 6.0 litres per 100km.
There is no word on a hybrid variant yet, despite the concept’s plug-in hybrid powertrain, the company’s commitment to produce more electrified vehicles and the strong interest in the Outlander PHEV.
Cook doesn’t know if a petrol-electric isn’t a long-term offer, but acknowledges “at launch it won’t be a PHEV. I’m not sure what will happen down the track but at launch it will not be in that format.”
As expected, the Eclipse Cross takes design cues from the XR-PHEV II concept from 2015. It features the now familiar Dynamic Shield front end that connects the headlights and grille with the lower bumper, incorporating chrome flourishes.
This look is already found on the Pajero Sport, Outlander and the ASX facelift.
The Eclipse Cross has a wedge-like profile, thanks to the distinctive beltline and the high-set rear windows, with typical SUV cues such as bulging wheel arches and black plastic cladding running around the bottom of the car.
The rear windscreen is split in two by the high, horizontal LED tail-lights, with Mitsubishi describing the edgy look as “almost cubist”.
Despite the sloping roofline, the Eclipse Cross has ample rear head and legroom, its maker assures. It also features a 60:40 split-fold rear seat backrest with slide and recline adjustment.
The Eclipse Cross uses an electronically controlled four-wheel drive system that sends an optimum amount of torque to the rear wheels as needed, and it is fitted with the company’s Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC) integrated vehicle dynamics control system with brake-activated Active Yaw Control.
It is unclear if the crossover will be offered in front-wheel-drive guise, but given how popular ASX and Outlander variants in that format have been, it seems a logical idea.