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Month 1 of our Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross long-term test review: the start of the test
Are you bored by the unending, unimaginative ubiquity of driveways filled with crossovers near where you live? Qashqais, Kugas, Tiguans, all doing the same beige, John Lewis-y job in their own safe, predictable way? If so, then perhaps the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is the antidote. We’re going to find out by running one over the next few months, and I’d wager one thing: it will not be dull.
The Eclipse Cross, right from its slightly odd name, and onwards through design and drivetrain, challenges a sector predicated on conservatism. This might be a good thing. But then, in this safe space, where doing family tasks unobtrusively is a key requirement, maybe it’s not.
Mitsubishi’s new mid-size SUV is available in three trim levels, 2, 3 and 4 (wither 1?), and we’ve opted for the top-spec 4. Even this garlanded model retails at less than £30,000, and is stuffed so full of kit that the only accessory available other the £540 metallic paint we’ve chosen (and more of which later) is the – brace yourself – ‘classic mats’.
On this 4 comes leather trim, electrically adjustable driver’s seat, panoramic roof, LED headlamps, parking cameras with 360º view, blind spot warning, auto cruise control, Apple CarPlay and a premium sound system by some people called Rockford Fosgate, who sound like a ’70s supergroup (name not music quality, I should add).
In the spirit of adventure, I ticked the box for the new 161bhp 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine, doing its thing in concert with four-wheel drive and, I gulped at this a bit, a CVT gearbox (below).
Never in the history of automotive technology have I hated a thing more than CVT gearboxes and their hysterical whiny tantrums, and I include Vauxhall Signum indicators, and the Vauxhall Signum, in that list. So this was something of a leap of faith. The CVT in the Eclipse Cross is stepped, which will apparently give the impression of a proper auto gearbox. The first half mile was undertaken with a wince and gritted teeth, but initial impressions are favourable and it seems to be behaving itself and acting more like an auto than an irritant. Phew.
But even before properly putting the Eclipse Cross to the test, it already has an advantage over all that other bland stuff in this sector, and that’s authenticity. Mitsubishi makes four-wheel drives that are tough and designed to do the job, and where we live, in a valley in the middle of nowhere surrounding by farmers and mud, this seems like the right fit.
And with such a fit in mind, I opted for a brown one (known in official circles as New Bronze) reasoning that for half the year everything round me is brown, so why not the car? This has elicited numerous responses ranging from admiration to repugnance, and – from Ben Pulman – a raised eyebrow and an ‘are you quite sure?’ reminiscent of Roger Moore at his most quizzical.
But I am, so there. Brown is the new black. Whether the rest of the car stacks up to months of family and country rough and tumble, though, remains to be seen.
More long-term tests by CAR magazine