By Clive Funizwe
Competition in this mid-sized SUV is stiff for manufacturers and good for the consumer, as this creates a healthy dose of options. So as we sampled the updated Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross in the GLS Exceed trim, we were impressed by a number of things – and perhaps left wanting by others.
Entry into the Eclipse Cross range starts from R489,990. Our test unit is priced from R570,000 and is powered by a 1.5l turbo engine. The 4-Cylinder engine produces 110kW/250Nm, which is pushed through to the front wheels via an 8-Step CVT. The combination delivers a smooth drive, and the CVT was neither droning nor sluggish. Up and downshifts were not lackluster. The engine was also energetic when needed and more than composed on normal driving.
Adding to the smoothness of the engine and CVT combo is the ride quality. When looked at from a comfort standpoint, the Eclipse has a sublime suspension that is also surprisingly good around corners. Admittedly, it doesn’t have the overall balance of something like a CX-5, but this is the one we would pick when we know there are seriously rough terrains or gravel roads we need to tackle. It’s almost like there is more rubber on the suspension and seat cushioning than what is supposed to be there. This is one of the most impressive things about the car.
What was not so impressive in our view is the execution of the interior’s tech. The Eclipse GLS is not short of technology gadgetry – but it is in its execution that it feels outdated. Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth, blind-spot monitoring, a rearview camera (that needs a serious update on resolution), park distance control, and dual sunroof are all part of the package. But the infotainment screen is very basic. It is also angled in a way that isn’t necessarily driver-focused. The instrument cluster also feels more Y2K than from a world that is AI-driven.
Are we nit-picking? Yes, and we have to. There are cars that are lower in spec and price that feel modern. Our issue here is not necessarily that the Eclipse GLS is lacking but rather has an old-school execution for a modern car. This should not be confused with a need for switchgear that is only usable via a touchscreen – as we are also not entirely sold on the user experience of that “unnecessarily modern” trend – but a balance in the middle can be had.
Overall, the Eclipse, as a product, is very good and well-priced. We do believe that it is a strong contender for families that are looking for a do-it-all car, but sadly, it doesn’t make its case quick enough in a world where a modern execution is a prerequisite.
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