We’d understand if you missed it, but Mitsubishi’s designers have split the dashboard in half, with a silver spar that runs across its width. Anything above it is informational, anything below it operational. At seven inches in diameter, the touchscreen is small but neat, and ergonomics are generally sound, even if reflector sight of the heads-up display is so substantial it wouldn’t look out of place in a Eurofighter. Materials quality is also better than we're used to from Mitsubishi.
While a diesel is likely to arrive in the autumn, for now the Eclipse Cross comes with but one engine option in the form of a relatively powerful 1.5-litre petrol. Mitsubishi’s intention is to welcome with open arms those who have turned their backs on diesel for reasons largely relating to ethics and, just maybe, residual values.
It’s a surprisingly smooth, inoffensive unit with good throttle response, usefully developing peak torque between 1800 and 4500rpm with little more than a buoyant thrum. Soulful it is not, but neither is it ever grating, even when thrashed. With the 160bhp it offers up, the Eclipse Cross never feels particularly quick but likewise never seems to want for more go. In short, it suits the car well.
The gearbox is a CVT affair calibrated to offer eight fantasy gears, though it’s far less slushy than you might imagine – just avoid using the paddles, which are entirely unconvincing. Like all transmissions of this ilk, it works best with sympathetic throttle inputs and rewards a more fluent driving style, though it’s sharp enough for hasty overtakes.
Claimed fuel economy is 40.4mpg, with carbon dioxide emissions of 159g/km. Neither figure is particularly impressive, and poorer than comparative diesel alternatives. Those engines won’t fade into the background quite so seamlessly at a cruise, however, and wind noise is luxuriously faint, despite the Dumbo-proportioned wing mirrors. Indeed, if the Eclipse Cross excels itself in one particular area, it’s motorway refinement.
Provided they're smooth, that is. Using MacPherson struts at the front with a multi-link rear, the Eclipse Cross rides well on most British roads but certainly isn’t immune to the effects ragged surfaces. If anything, we’d like a bit more vertical pliancy with better roll control, but it’s marginal, and most of the time there’s scant reason to complain. Certainly, a questionable secondary ride is something that seems to afflict most cars in this class.
And so the four-wheel drive system, which can be set for snow and gravel as well as tarmac. Traction feels all but unbreakable in the Eclipse Cross, though in this case the Active Yaw Control is brake-operated, unlike the differential-based hardware employed by Lancer Evo models of, um, yore. It’s also inclined to stability rather than dynamism, and while there’s good grip and quick steering on offer, this latest Mitsubishi does little to genuinely entertain.
For matters of practicality, the price you pay for the sloping design is that rear boot space takes a hit, particularly in comparison to the Seat Ateca. Up front there’s generous head and legroom and, given that the rear bench can slide fore or aft up to 200mm, the same is true for back-seat passengers. Whether that’s an acceptable compromise is a matter of where your priorities lie.