Cape Town - Mitsubishi now boasts six model derivatives in South Africa; the latest, the Eclipse Cross, which was launched here last week. We drove the car in Cape Town to see if it’s a worthy alternative in the extremely competitive crossover segment.

Of course, there was lots of play on the word ‘eclipse’ at the launch, which was aptly held at the Observatory in the Gardens area (geddit?).

Anyway, the new Eclipse Cross has found more than 80 000 homes since it was launched (globally) a year ago, so it’s pretty popular and it will be interesting to see how South Africans react to it.

It is available in two variants, a 4x2 version and an all wheel drive one, both coupled to a CVT gearbox with a sport-shift mode and both of them powered by Mitsubishi’s well-known 2.0-litre four-pot MIVEC petrol engine.

You get 110kW of power and 198Nm of torque and you also get paddle shifters, which thankfully lets you to hold onto a gear, giving you the option to shift up or down on demand.

It’s another one of those cars aimed at the millennials and the young at heart, which is pretty clear from the styling which is crisp, eye-catching and quiet bold, with an all round sportiness about it, standing on 18-inch alloys.

Mitsubishi says it’s a sophisticated balance between sport and style and they’re not far off, because let’s face it the first thing that you look at in a car is whether it’s attractive to the eyes before you go in to all the technical detail.

Inside they’ve done an equally good job as well.

The first thing that struck me was how comfortable the seats were, both behind the wheel and as a passenger.

Rear passenger leg and headroom was also impressive, despite the wedge design.

Everything is easy to reach and once you got the hang of the optional 21cm touchscreen display (with built-in GPS) it worked a treat. It’s also Apple Car Play and Android Auto compatible.

There’s also a handy smartphone storage tray and USB connectors in the centre console, as well as a head-up display that’s both height- and brightness-adjustable.

The multi-function steering wheel is tilt and telescopic adjustable and to add to the practicality of the vehicle, the rear seats have a 60/40 split.

It was a scorcher when we were in Cape Town, but the heated seats will no doubt be a blessing in a few months.

We were up in the AWD for the first driving session which included a stretch of dirt road on the way out to Darling to catch a front seat view of Tannie Evita.

I’m yet to meet a hack who is wild about a CVT gearbox, but it does work well in traffic and there was a lot of that around on our way out of the city.

We also found that the Eclipse Cross had a nice turn of speed at pull-off, before settling down to the speed limit.

Road manners were good thanks to Mitsubishi’s renowned Super All-Wheel Control that regulates engine torque as required.

We had a bit of fun on the dirt (in the Gravel setting) and concluded that no matter what the level of your driving skill is, it’s a system that will, in all probability, save your life if things get totally out of control.

The road back to the airport was in the front-wheel driven version and while obviously not as secure as its sibling around corners, there are enough safety features including seven airbags, side impact protection bars, ABS, active yaw control, EBD and much more to keep you ensconced safely.

Also included on both models are electric fold away mirrors, halogen headlights, daytime running lights, dusk sensing headlamps, headlamp washer, front and rear park assist and rain sensing wipers. Oh, and you also get a full size spare wheel.

PRICES

Eclipse Cross 2.0L CVT 4x2: R399 995

Eclipse Cross 2.0L CVT AWD: R449 995

Both versions come with a three-year/100 000km warranty and a five-year/90 000km service plan, and a five-year/unlimited kilometre roadside assistance plan.

Drive360