Like them or loathe them, there’s no denying that SUVs are the car of the moment.
Sales of smaller models might be soaring but at the heart of the SUV world lie the mid-sized family vehicles such as the Nissan Qashqai and Seat Ateca.
Every manufacturer wants a horse in this most profitable of races and earlier this year Mitsubishi launched the Eclipse Cross as its runner against the biggest and best in the segment.
To take on the behemoth that is the Nissan Qashqai as well as its many varied and deeply talented rivals Mitsubishi needs to do something to stand out.
Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross 4
Price: £28,480 (£29,020)
Engine: 1.5-litre, four-cylinder, turbo, petrol
Transmission: CVT, four-wheel-drive
Top speed: 124mph
0-62mph: 10.4 seconds
Economy: 36.7mpg (NEDC)
CO2 emissions: 175g/km
Unfortunately, its way of doing so seems to be to burden the Eclipse Cross with an stupid piece of design that not only ruins an otherwise neat styling package but also has a negative impact on the driving experience.
Mitsubishi claims the full-width light bar/spoiler across the rear window creates a dynamic look. What it actually does is make the back end look weirdly high and badly proportioned.
More problematically, it seriously restricts vision out of the rear window. Yes, the car has a decent reversing camera, but that’s no help on the open road when there’s a thick black line across your view out of the back.
That one piece of silliness aside, the Eclipse Cross is a reasonable but unremarkable entry into a crowded market.
The 1.5-litre petrol engine is paired with a CVT gearbox, which means a smooth but uninspiring drive. It actually suited me well for the week of mostly urban driving I did with it, seamlessly slipping through traffic with very little noise. On the open road its 161bhp means it pushes along nicely but it’s a largish, tallish SUV so don’t expect a thrill-a-minute experience – or great economy, official figures are mid-30s.
The ride continues the smooth but unengaging feel of the car, putting comfort ahead of handling prowess. It’s good but not quite a match for the magic carpet effect of the Citroen C5 Aircross.
Our test car was seriously well equipped, with everything from adaptive cruise control to a colour head-up display. Heated seats, an excellent parking camera monitor system, panoramic roof and lane change assist are also standard on the £28,500 ‘4’ spec.
The Eclipse Cross is the first model to carry Mitsubishi’s new in-car entertainment system. It’s not a match for those from Ford or the VW Group but it is a big improvement on the dreadful old one. It was designed for simplicity with the belief that most people will use the standard Android Auto or Apple CarPlay connection anyway so its limited functionality and basic graphics can be forgiven.
It also featured optional all-wheel drive. At a time as some competitors are dropping all-wheel-drive a 4×4 system from a brand with decades of specialist experience makes an attractive proposition for buyers who want a C-SUV with a bit more ability.
Realistically, though, that four-wheel-drive knowledge is about the only thing that makes the Eclipse Cross stand out.
There’s not much to criticise (that stupid light bar apart) but there’s nothing remarkable either. It’s a solid enough performer but there’s nothing that would tempt me away from a Skoda Karoq, Seat Ateca or Ford Kuga.