Mitsubishi’s Eclipse Cross PHEV is a member of what we like to think of as the 100km club.
It’s a fairly exclusive club because it costs a lot to get into and the benefits are at best fleeting.
Based on the same powertrain as the Outlander PHEV, with both petrol and electric motors, claimed fuel consumption is a tiny 1.9L/100km.
Wow. That’s an impressive figure, but the reality is to achieve this target the vehicle needs to be recharged every 100km — otherwise the final figure is liable to be considerably higher.
Basically the battery provides 45km of petrol-free travel for the first 100km travelled.
After that, the petrol engine is on its Pat Malone, at least until the battery has been recharged.
Get the picture?
What’s it cost?
With seating for five occupants, Eclipse Cross sits between ASX and Outlander in terms of size.
There’s three plug-in hybrid versions from which to choose: ES, Aspire and Exceed.
Prices start from $47,290 for ES, $51,240 for Aspire and $55,990 for top of the line Exceed.
The latter, the subject of our review, is a big ask with a price that is $12,500 more than the equivalent turbocharged petrol model.
All PHEVs come with an auto and all three are underpinned by all-wheel drive.
Standard kit includes cloth trim, two-zone climate air conditioning, 18 inch alloys, push button start, LED daytime lights, cruise control and rear parking sensors.
Aspire adds suede and synthetic leather trim, heated front seats, power-adjust driver’s seat, LED headlights, front parking sensors, along with adaptive cruise control, 360-degree camera, blind spot warning, lane change assist and rear cross traffic alert.
Exceed adds full leather, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, power-adjust passenger seat, built-in navigation, head-up display and a double sunroof – plus an ultrasonic mis-acceleration mitigation system.
The PHEV received some minor updates earlier this year, including the addition of a power operated tailgate and V2L (the ability to power external equipment, with a 240 volt three-point power socket in the boot).
For a car with a focus on technology, however, it lacks wireless phone charging, the latest USB-C ports or a 12 volt socket in the cargo area.
Ditto rear air vents.
Infotainment comprises an 8.0-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth with voice control, AM/FM and DAB+ digital radio, wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and an eight-speaker Mitsubishi-branded sound system.
Standard safety includes seven airbags, rear view camera, automatic emergency braking and lane departure warning, plus an ultrasonic mis-acceleration mitigation system.
The latter reduces the chance and severity of hitting obstacles when the driver mistakenly presses the accelerator when stationary or at speeds of up to 10km/h.
It’s covered by a 10-year warranty and 8-year/160,000km battery warranty.
What’s it go like?
Eclipse has grown a little in size since launch.
It now offers a pleasant, comfortable environment, with more rear legroom and a larger boot.
The cool two-piece rear window has been replaced with a more conventional and probably cheaper one-piece unit.
A revised instrument cluster displays engine speed as well as EV charge levels and battery use — but no digital speedo.
For that, in the Exceed at least, there’s a flip-up plastic style head-up display panel the deploys above the dash.
The front seats and steering wheel are heated, but cooling would have been a better option given our climate.
Although larger overall, plug-in hybrid versions have a smaller boot than the standard model because of the space occupied by the battery pack.
While the spare wheel has been replaced by a tyre repair kit.
The powertrain comprises a 2.4-litre petrol engine with two electric motors, one for the front and one for the back axle, and a 13.8 kWh battery.
The engine produces 94kW of power and 199Nm of torque, while the electric motors deliver 60kW/137Nm and 70kW/195Nm apiece.
A combined figure is not provided, but throttle response is sharp thanks to the instant torque from the electric motors.
Drive is to all four wheels through a single-speed transmission and is remarkably smooth.
The PHEV system is ‘EV-biased’ and prioritises EV Mode wherever possible, but can deploy Series or Parallel Hybrid modes when required.
In EV Mode (available from 0–135km/h), the PHEV is powered by the front and rear electric drive motors, drawing current from the battery.
In Series Hybrid Mode (available from 0-70km/h), the car continues to use the battery to power the front and rear motors, while the petrol engine is engaged to run the generator to charge the battery while driving.
This mode is also automatically activated when the driver wants maximum acceleration, or for example when driving uphill or when battery charge is low.
In this mode, the vehicle will attempt to revert to EV Mode as often as possible for maximum efficiency and minimum emissions.
In Parallel Hybrid Mode (available above 70km/h), the PHEV operates like a traditional hybrid.
This means the petrol engine drives the front wheels in tandem with the front electric motor via the multi-mode front transaxle, while the rear electric motor drives the rear wheels.
Once again, the vehicle is configured to revert to EV Mode or Series Hybrid Mode whenever possible.
Regenerative braking is available in all three modes and can be adjusted via paddles on the steering wheel.
There’s five steps that add drag when you take your foot off the throttle, sending energy back to the battery.
But, unlike other vehicles of this kind, you still need to apply the brakes.
It all might sound a bit complicated, but there’s no need to worry because the car takes care of everything — everything that is apart from charging.
The PHEV has AC Type 2 and DC CHAdeMO style input sockets.
Using the supplied cable and a regular 10A powerpoint it takes 7 hours to fully charge.
It’s also supplied with a second cable for faster Mode 3 charging using a wall charger which takes 4 hours, while 0-80 per cent with a full blown commercial DC charger takes 25 minutes.
The Mitsubishi Remote Control app allows drivers to plan and activate battery charging remotely via the app, to take advantage of off-peak electricity tariffs.
Mitsubishi claims 55km of electric range, but that’s under the old NEDC standard.
Under the newer, more stringent WLTP system, it’s actually 45km — but 55 sounds better.
Basically, if you live in the ‘burbs, Mitsubishi claims the electric range is sufficient to pop into the city and back without needing to recharge.
We reckon it’s a costly option and a lot of mucking around for little in return.
The cynical might suggest it has more to do with satisfying emissions requirements than delivering real world benefits.
At the same time, because it’s a plug-in hybrid, you don’t need to worry about being stranded.
When the juice runs out, the petrol engine kicks in.
Hybrid questions aside, the PHEV is a heavy car and this has implications for ride and handling.
There are five drive modes: tarmac, snow, gravel, normal or economy.
Normal or Eco are what most urban motorists will use, while Tarmac is in effect a sport mode in which the car becomes tauter, sportier and more responsive.
The ride is harsher on anything apart from smooth bitumen, even though they’ve done a bit of work on the rear suspension.
You feel all the little imperfections and the car can take longer than normal to settle as it continues to bounce up and down on the suspension.
That weight means and the fact the car sits relatively high also means it has a tendency to run wide in corners, with squeal hard braking and lift-off oversteer when braking late and hard into corners.
The steering lacks any sort of feel.
In fact, you can waggle the steering wheel (technical term) from side to side with little or no effect on the direction of travel.
It’s like trying to change direction in the billy carts we used to build as kids in the backyard with wood pinched from building sites.
A sports car it is not.
With a 45-litre tank, it takes regular 91 unleaded.
We took the PHEV for a run down the coast over the Easter long weekend and unfortunately did not have access to a powerpoint to recharge the battery.
We were getting 6.8L/100km after 780km, bearing in mind that trip computer in Mitsubishis are prone to reset no matter what you do
Power consumption was 16.2kWh/100km, while 47 per cent of our time was spent in EV mode.
No sure how this can be, as we never recharged the battery after the initial charge was depleted.
This compares with 7.7L/100km for the 1.5-litre turbocharged all-wheel drive version of the car.
What we like?
What we don’t like?
Short electric range
No digital speedo
No air vents for back seats passengers
Lacks wireless phone charging
Battery eats into boot capacity
No spare wheel
The bottom line?
The Eclipse Cross PHEV Exceed is a likeable enough car, but for $12,500 more than the regular model, it needs to be more than that.
For this kind of money you can get into MG’s new ZS EV Long Range, a fully electric SUV with 440km of range that does not require charging as frequently.
While buyers might be coming around to the benefits of EVs, they have demonstrated a reluctance to pay the outrageous prices that manufacturers are demanding for them.
New technology is always expensive, but the technology is mature now and pricing needs to start reflecting this fact.