Group test: Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross vs Nissan Qashqai vs Skoda Karoq

Group test: Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross vs Nissan Qashqai vs Skoda Karoq
Group test: Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross vs Nissan Qashqai vs Skoda Karoq

The family SUV sector gets yet another entry, this time from Mitsubishi

The family SUV class is absolutely thriving, even if those families themselves are not. But when it comes to a choice of family transport there’s possibly never been a better time if you want a broad range to choose from. Hatchbacks, estates, and of course a whole raft of SUVs. Mitsubishi has launched another entry into this crowded field in the shape of the Eclipse Cross, but can it eclipse a couple of popular, proven competitors?

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross 1.5 4

Price: £24,975
Engine: 1.5-litre, four-cylinder, turbo, petrol
Power: 161bhp
Torque: 184Ib ft
Gearbox: 6-spd manual
0-60mph: 8.6sec
Top speed: 127mph
Economy: 42.8mpg
CO2 emissions: 151g/km

Driving

Obviously, when buying one of these smart, sensible family transports, the first thing you want to know is – what’s it like in the 0-62mph sprint? Well, drag-racing drivers will be a touch glum in the Skoda as it’s the slowest here at getting up to speed. But at least it does so in a decent manner and the high levels of torque mean it’s far from hard work and doesn’t require a lot of gearchanges.

The other two are about on a par, but it’s the Mitsubishi that gets off to a bad start as clutch and throttle seem horribly ill-matched and the gearchange is notchy, making a smooth getaway a marginal affair.

However, once you’re up to speed, the Skoda plays one of its trump cards. (Can we still use that phrase, or do we have to first issue a trigger warning to Democrats?) The Karoq handles really well, and not just by sloppy SUV standards of old. It’s sharp, steers and turns in well and stays fairly flat through the corners. It’s also quite quiet at speed.

Nissan Qashqai 1.6 DIG-T 163 Tekna+

Price: £29,250
Engine: 1.6-litre, four-cylinder turbo, petrol
Power: 161bhp
Torque: 177Ib ft
Gearbox: 6-spd manual
0-60mph: 9.0sec
Top speed: 124mph
Economy: 48.7mpg
CO2 emissions: 134g/km

The Qashqai wanders and wallows about a bit, but for many it would be well within the acceptable limits of what they’d expect from a tall vehicle that can tackle the odd verge and ditch. The Eclipse Cross pushes much closer to the acceptable limits. It just feels ragged and, in the wet at least, somewhat unpredictable, which is not what you want with the family on board.

Add in some very disappointing ride characteristics at low speed, and the Eclipse Cross has a mountain to climb at this stage of the test.

Interior

Speaking of climbing, we like high driving positions in our SUVs but it seems unnaturally high in the Mitsubishi. You’re not really sitting comfy either since adjustable lumbar support is standard in the other two, but not even an option in the Eclipse Cross.

The driver isn’t going to be able to see well behind either thanks to the unusual styling but at least there are front and rear sensors and a reversing camera as standard (as those things are in the other two).

The Mitsubishi cabin feels solid and well made but even against the older Nissan it fails to impress. It’s the Karoq with its fine blend of soft and dense plastics as well as robust switches that feels the most premium of the trio. Equally, the Karoq’s 9.2-inch infotainment screen compares very favourably to the seven-inch touchscreens in the others.

The Mitsubishi makes a comeback when it comes to space in the back of the cabin. There’s more back there than in the other two, particularly in the legroom department, but headroom is equally good even with a panoramic sunroof. The fact that the rear bench can slide and recline just adds to the attraction of travelling in the rear of the Eclipse Cross.

The Karoq also has a sliding and reclining bench as well as a panoramic sunroof, but it can’t match the Mitsubishi. The Nissan has a fixed bench but even with the panoramic sunroof you’ve lots of headroom.

Skoda Karoq 1.5 TSI 150 Edition

Price: £27,110
Engine: 1.5-litre, four-cylinder, turbo, petrol
Power: 148bhp
Torque: 184Ib ft
Gearbox: 6-spd manual
0-60mph: 9.2sec
Top speed: 126mph
Economy: 51.4mpg
CO2 emissions: 125g/km

If you need a big boot, then it’s the Karoq for you. It can take nine carry-on cases, against the six in the Nissan and the five in the Mitsubishi. That’s a significant advantage.

Costs

The Mitsubishi undercuts the others on price though. It’s almost £5000 less than the facelifted Qashqai, with all three vehicles in top spec. It’s the cheapest on finance too. Add to that the forecast the Eclipse Cross will hold its value very well and you’re looking at cheap running costs when combined with sensible insurance and servicing costs.

The weakness is that fuel consumption isn’t great and nor are emission figures, which makes it a possible no-no for company car drivers who will have to fork out about £750 more over three years compared to the Skoda Karoq.

All three are Euro NCAP five-star cars, with all getting good levels of safety technology, including automatic emergency braking, as standard. Reliability throws some differences in there though, with Mitsubishi scoring stellar points compared to the Skoda, which in turn comfortably beat the Nissan.

Verdict

About ten years ago the Nissan Qashqai was king of this class, but now it looks a bit old and is surprisingly expensive. Against it, the brand new Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross looks like very good value, and offers more, and more flexible, space and has a good forecast for being reliable and economical to own.

But both those are some way behind the Skoda Karoq. It’s the best vehicle to drive here by a margin, and also has the most upmarket cabin including the best infotainment system. It’s classy, practical and thoroughly modern and fends off new and old with reasonable ease. At least that gives some families something to cheer about.

Read more: 

The best SUVs for real-world fuel economy

Review: Skoda Karoq Edition

Driving lesson changes: learner drivers allowed on motorways from next month

 

Volkswagen Up GTI review - fun-packed pocket rocket

Volkswagen make a big deal about the connections between this Up GTI model and its predecessors. Particularly the original Golf GTI, to which

Jaguar E-Pace review: Easy living for executive SUV

Jaguar’s E-Pace compact sports SUV follows on from the brand’s first foray into Range Rover territory with the F-Pace.While its

Mazda CX-3 review

You know that old line: “The rain, in Spain, falls mainly on the plain.” Well, driving the attractively refreshed Mazda CX-3 on

Hyundai Kona review

Yes, this is a Hyundai. No it’s not a concept. It’s an actual car that you can walk into a dealership and order today.For people