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Short circuit: Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross PHEV

Riley Riley

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What is it?

Believe it or not, Mitsubishi’s plug-in hybrid Outlander has been around for going on 10 years.

But the paint has hardly had time to dry on the plugin version of Eclipse Cross, launched just six months ago in Australia.

And, surprise, surprise, it’s underpinned by the same hybrid setup as Outlander that, not surprisingly, offers the same 55km of electric only range — but it has the advantage of being smaller and nippier.

Eclipse Cross seats five and sits between ASX and Outlander in terms of size.

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What’s it cost?

There’s three models to choose from: ES, Aspire and Exceed.

Prices start from $46,490 for ES, $49,990 for Aspire or $53,990 for top of the line Exceed.

The latter, subject of our review, is $12,500 more than a standard turbo Exceed.

All 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, 8.0-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth with voice control, AM/FM and DAB+ digital radio, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto with four-speaker audio.

Standard safety includes seven airbags, rear view camera, automatic emergency braking and lane departure warning.

Aspire adds suede and synthetic leather trim, heated front seats , power adjust driver’s seat, LED headlights, front parking sensors and eight-speaker audio, along with automatic cruise control, multi-around monitor, blind spot warning, lane change assist and rear cross traffic alert.

Exceed gets full leather, heated seats, a heated steering wheel, power passenger seat, built-in navigation, head-up display and double sunroof, plus 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.

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What’s it go like?

The Eclipse PHEV goes better than the figures might suggest, a bit of a rocket even.

The ride though is on the harsher side, even though they’ve done some work on the rear suspension.

Steering and handling are at best uninspiring.

The powertrain comprises a 2.4-litre petrol engine with two electric motors 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 of the electric motors.

Drive is to all four wheels through a single-speed transmission and is remarkably smooth.

Claimed fuel consumption is just 1.9L/100km and it prefers 95 premium petrol, but will run happily on 91.

But be warned, unless you go to the trouble of charging the battery, fuel consumption will be considerably heavier.

And, because it’s a Mitsubishi, the trip computer tends to have a mind of its own — at least in our experience.

As an example, once the ‘refuel’ message pops up, the computer simply refuses to allow any further access to data, keeping the long-term average a secret (4.6L/100km from memory).

The Eclipse has grown a little in size since launch and now offers a pleasant, comfortable cabin with room for five, plus more rear legroom and a bigger boot.

It’s also lost the funky two-piece rear window of the first model and the touchpad has been ditched.

A revised instrument cluster displays engine speed as well as EV charge levels and battery use — but no digital speedo.

The heated seats and heated steering wheel, however, are fairly superfluous in the context of our environment.

Ventilated seats would have been be a better option.

Although bigger, it has a smaller boot than the standard model.

Mitsubishi argues that because the average daily commute is 32km, the plug-in’s 55km range is more than adequate to deliver emissions-free commuting to “an overwhelming majority of Australians”.

The 55km by the way is under the old NEDC standard. Under the newer WLTP system it’s actually 45km (but 55 sounds better).

Basically, if you live in the ‘burbs, Mitsubishi is saying it’s enough to pop into the city and back.

From a driver’s point of view, one could suggest that it’s costly and a lot of mucking around for little return, and might have more to do with satisfying climate legislation than delivering real world benefits.

Your call . . .

If it was me, I’d be looking for a lot more range than 55km. I’d be wanting a much higher return on my investment.

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.

Running 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 too 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 (only 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 multimode 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, with five steps that add drag when you take your foot off the throttle — to send energy back to the battery.

But, unlike other vehicles of this kind, you still need to apply the brakes.

If it all sounds a bit complicated, the good news is that you don’t need to worry about it.

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 on 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.

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What we like?

  • Latest technology
  • Distinctive looks
  • Comfortable seats
  • Sharp performance
  • Long warranty

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What we don’t like?

  • Too expensive
  • Short electric range
  • No digital speedo
  • No rear air vents
  • Battery eats into boot capacity
  • No spare wheel

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The bottom line?

Like the concept, but I’d like it even more if the Eclipse had greater, all-electric range.

These cars are designed for countries other than Australia, where they typically travel shorter distances, which explains the limited range — and that makes them a hard sell.

At $57K or so by the time you put the PHEV on the road, it’s also relatively expensive.

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CHECKOUT: Mitsubishi Outlander: Check the family tree

CHECKOUT: Mitsubishi Eclipse PHEV: Say after me

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross PHEV Exceed, priced from $53,990
  • Looks - 7.5/10
    7.5/10
  • Performance - 7.5/10
    7.5/10
  • Safety - 8/10
    8/10
  • Thirst - 8/10
    8/10
  • Practicality - 7/10
    7/10
  • Comfort - 7/10
    7/10
  • Tech - 8/10
    8/10
  • Value - 7.5/10
    7.5/10
Overall
7.6/10
7.6/10
Riley

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