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Driven: Updated Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross to gain sales
Mitsubishi expecting bigger, overhauled Eclipse Cross small SUV to be more popular
4 Dec 2020
MITSUBISHI Motors Australia Limited (MMAL) expects major revisions to the updated Eclipse Cross small SUV that went on sale this week will help increase popularity of a model that sold around 7000 units per year from its launch in late 2017 until COVID-19 stalled much of the automotive industry.
In its first full year on sale, the Eclipse Cross found 7521 owners in Australia and grabbed a 6.1 per cent share of the small SUV segment to join the category’s top 10 sellers list that its smaller ASX sibling has consistently dominated for years with a share in the mid-teens.
Last year the Eclipse Cross lost a bit of ground with 6998 sold, and segment share slipping to 5.7 per cent as the MG ZS hit its straps and the Kia Seltos was introduced, while the ASX also enjoyed a 9.3 per cent sales uplift.
The Eclipse Cross is down more than 40 per cent year-to-date with its segment share of 4.8 per cent just three percentage points above the MG ZS in a segment that has slumped 7.9 per cent compared with last year against an overall new-vehicle market that has suffered a decline of 18.8 per cent.
MMAL product strategy project manager Tony Dorrington told GoAuto that if and when the market returns to some form of normality in 2021, the overhauled Eclipse Cross – 140mm longer than before with styling updates and equipment upgrades across the range – was expected to “outperform sales of the pre-update model” and likely to attract buyers from other segments, possibly into their first SUV.
“Eclipse Cross has always been a solid performer in a very competitive segment,” said Mr Dorrington, who cited “comfort, convenience, increased space and styling” as reasons for the projected sales uptick.
“There has been strong interest at both dealer level and by traffic metrics on our pre-launch website with a high number of registrations of interest received,” he said.
“We expect there to be significant interest in the new Eclipse Cross post launch.”
Although Mr Dorrington predicted the second-lowest LS trim level to be the most popular Eclipse Cross variant – $32,590 plus on-road costs with front-wheel drive – it was a combination of increased interior space and the introduction of a new Aspire variant ($34,990 plus on-roads) that opened the door to increased sales.
“The Eclipse Cross Aspire has its own distinct feel and fills a gap in the market, while offering SUV customers a range of technology at a value for money price point,” said Mr Dorrington.
Like the ASX with which it shares a showroom and segment, around 30 per cent of total Eclipse Cross volume is sold to fleets, according to Mr Dorrington.
The Aspire uniquely comes with a combination of ‘microsuede’ and imitation leather upholstery plus leatherette door inserts along with much of the Exceed’s technology, including adaptive cruise control with stop and go, surround-view cameras, front parking sensors, dual-zone climate control, electric driver’s seat adjustment, heated front seats, a self-dimming rearview mirror and a 510-watt premium “Mitsubishi Power” sound system with eight speakers.
Mr Dorrington declined to comment on expected specification split but said that just 15 per cent of Eclipse Cross customers went for the $2500 all-wheel-drive option that is available on the LS and Exceed grades and that the front-drive-only Aspire was expected to “attract new customers and represent a significant share of Eclipse Cross sales”.
Asked to expand on the customer profile and competitor landscape, Mr Dorrington said the increased length “puts Eclipse Cross into a class of its own”.
“While it will continue to compete in the small SUV segment, we also expect to attract buyers from other segments including first-time new SUV buyers,” he added.
An additional 140mm of length means the new Eclipse Cross has gone from being 75mm shorter than a Hyundai Tucson medium SUV to being 65mm longer.
Mr Dorrington explained that the wheelbase had remained at 2670mm, with the rear overhang growing by 105mm to liberate extra cargo capacity and rear legroom. The remaining 35mm goes into increased front overhang.
The split sliding rear bench has been ditched in favour of a conventional fixed base, with official boot capacity now matching the 405L that could only be achieved in the previous model with the seats slid all the way forward and the reclining backrests in their most upright position.
Mr Dorrington confirmed that the existing GS platform had been carried over, with “multiple ADR (Australian Design Rule) approvals” required for the redesign as well as data supplied to ANCAP to show the occupant, pedestrian, whiplash and driver assistance technologies performed at least as well as the model that achieved a five-star rating in 2017.
Starting from $30,290 plus on-road costs for the front-drive ES, cost of entry to the Eclipse Cross range has risen by $300, while at the top end the flagship Exceed now costs $1300 extra at $38,290 plus on-roads for front-wheel drive.
Mr Dorrington said the price increases went towards the range-wide inclusion of forward collision mitigation and bigger 8.0-inch touchscreen media system plus extra materials required to extend the bodywork by 140mm. On the Exceed, the premium sound system, integrated TomTom satellite navigation and addition of heated rear seats and steering wheel contributed to the extra cost.
Standard equipment across the range includes 18-inch alloy wheels, an 8.0-inch touchscreen media system with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Bluetooth connectivity, audio streaming, voice control and DAB+ digital radio. On the base ES this runs through four speakers.
There are also paddle shifters, a reversing camera, single-zone climate control, LED daytime running lights, rear roof spoiler, two USB ports, hill start assist, cruise control and a cargo blind. Both ES and LS have cloth upholstery.
Stepping up to the LS adds keyless entry and start, LED fog lamps, rear parking sensors, rear privacy glass, one-touch window opening and closing, rain sensing wipers, black roof rails, an illuminated vanity mirror, ambient lighting on the front door trims, dusk sensing headlights, heated power folding mirrors, a rear armrest with cup holders, automatic high beam, illuminated front door trim, six-speaker stereo, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and an electric park brake with auto hold.
Specifications for the Aspire are outlined above, while the Exceed flagship adds leather upholstery, LED headlights, electric passenger seat adjustment, TomTom satellite navigation with “What3Words” precise location entry, a double sunroof, driver’s seat map pocket, head-up display, heated steering wheel and rear seats and a black interior headlining.
Standard safety equipment on all variants comprises seven airbags, traction, stability and yaw controls as well as forward collision mitigation. To this the ES adds lane departure warning, while the Aspire gains blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert and lane change assist. The Exceed also has unintended acceleration mitigation.
All variants are powered by the same turbocharged 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine as previously, with outputs unchanged – 110kW at 5500rpm and 250Nm between 2000 and 3500rpm – driving through a continuously variable automatic transmission with eight simulated stepped ratios activated via paddle-shift or manual shift gate on the gear selector.
Official combined-cycle fuel consumption is 7.3 litres per 100 kilometres for front-drive variants or 7.7L/100km for all-wheel drive. Respective carbon dioxide emissions are rated at 165 grams per kilometre and 174g/km.
A new White Diamond paint finish joins the range of six available colours, with metallic and pearlescent options costing $740 extra and prestige paint $940.
Mr Dorrington confirmed that a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) drivetrain will join the range in future, although timing has not yet been finalised by MMAL.
“While introduction of the PHEV variant has been confirmed, there is still strong demand for fuel efficient internal combustion engines such as that fitted to the new Eclipse Cross,” he said.
However, Mr Dorrington would not be drawn on whether the electrified Eclipse Cross destined for Australia will have the same vehicle-to-grid capability of its larger Outlander stablemate.
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*Excludes on-road costs
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