The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross debuts its first coupe-sport utility vehicle
Mitsubishi's Eclipse Cross is a creditable cross-segment debut The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross, which was unveiled at the Singapore Motorshow last week, is the first of its kind from the Japanese carmaker. ST PHOTOS: KUA CHEE SIONG

Ten years ago, BMW invented the coupe-sport utility vehicle (SUV) genre with its unconventionally styled X6.

That it bore a small resemblance to Ssangyong's geeky Actyon - launched three years earlier - did not help perception that BMW had completely gone off the rails.

But lo and behold, others followed up on the kooky coupe-SUV trail - and rather successfully too. Like Range Rover with the Evoque, and Mercedes-Benz with its GLC and GLE coupes.

Perhaps, with time, even the most bizzare of concepts will find acceptance. So, when Mitsubishi's Eclipse Cross came along, hardly anyone batted an eyelid.

Unveiled at the Singapore Motorshow last week, the Eclipse Cross is the first of its kind from a Japanese maker.

The car shares the same platform as the bigger Mitsubishi Outlander SUV and the same first name as Mitsubishi's Eclipse coupe, made in the United States.

Looking like a slightly smaller Outlander with a Honda CR-X coupe's rear section, the Eclipse Cross is certainly an interesting take on how two vastly opposing genres can merge.

Even if it is not a beautiful creation per se (unlike, say, the Evoque), it is not in the least offensive. Visually, its CR-X-inspired rear stands out. With its strip of rear brake lights bisecting its angled rear windscreen, it has a touch of avant-garde.

Where Mitsubishi has failed is not having pushed the envelope for the rest of the body.

It makes up for this by making a pretty decent interior. There is plenty of room (thanks to its Outlander wheelbase) and a reasonable spread of modern features (electronic parking brake with auto-hold/release, cruise control, head-up display).

The packaging is surprisingly good too. The second-row seats can slide back and forth (by 200mm), allowing you to choose between more legroom and more stowage.

The seats can be split-folded too, although not entirely flat.

The fit and finish are better than expected for a sizeable car priced just below $120,000. There are no cheap or nasty materials in sight. Even the steering wheel is leather-wrapped.

But how does this coupe-SUV drive? Well, the front-wheel-driven Mitsubishi certainly does not drive like a coupe, nor does it have any SUV capability.

For the latter, you might opt for an all-wheel-drive variant.

Its 1.5-litre turbo engine is reasonably able, hauling the biggish car from zero to 100kmh in 9.3 seconds.

Paired with a continuously variable transmission, it feels adequate in city traffic, although you will be hard put to describe it as zesty. It is also a fairly smooth and refined drivetrain, with hardly any rough spots across a wide rev band and just a hint of CVT whine. In fact, you get a sporty drone when revs go past 2,000rpm.

The car corners neutrally, even if body roll can be discernible at higher speeds.

As a utility vehicle, the boot offers quite a lot of usable space. The tailgate is rather hefty and would have benefited from a motorised opening and closing function.

That aside, the Eclipse Cross is a creditable cross-segment debut for Mitsubishi.