MMC Engineering aimed to match the SUV ‘coupé’ tag with driving dynamics that fulfil the brand’s sporting heritage. As a base for optimum handling, the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross features a highly rigid yet lightweight bodyshell, 55 per cent of which is made from high tensile strength steel.
It incorporates a three-point front strut tower brace, as well as specific reinforcements to the cowl top, spring housing, rear roof and upper corner rails. These combine to give more direct steering feel and improve straight line stability at higher speeds. Structural “adhesive” bonding has also been used extensively in the door openings, rear tailgate opening and rear wheel housings, which also aid steering feel and enhance the ride quality.
The suspension system (MacPherson struts at the front/Multi-link set-up at the rear) was developed to target precision and cornering ability, while also striking a balance between handling and comfort, with an emphasis on limiting body roll and reducing NVH.
Several techniques were employed to achieve these objectives; for example, the dampers use fast-response check valves to improve damping performance and the rebound spring design effectively contributes to sprung stability. The use of thinner front strut spring pads and their slanted layout make for more linear loading changes under compression, improving straight line stability and steering feel, while the newly designed rear suspension cross-member uses insert bushings for the upper and lower control arms and toe control arm. Their low rigidity allows them to absorb more surface shocks during wheel bounce and significantly reduce unpleasant vibration under normal driving conditions.
The rear multi-link set-up of the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross has been given greater rigidity against lateral forces, again contributing to more accurate cornering, direct steering feel and enhanced vehicle stability.
Contributing to the driving dynamics of the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross, the electric power steering system has been developed for less noise and, again, improved road feel, featuring new motor components and a higher gear ratio compared to the Mitsubishi Outlander. The braking system has also been developed with performance in mind, the all-round disc set-up including 17-inch vented discs in the front. Refinement is also enhanced through the rear suspension cross members featuring a noise-damping design, which reduces road noise transmitting to the body.
Key to the Eclipse Cross’ impressive dynamics is Mitsubishi Motors’ Super-All Wheel Control* (S-AWC) dynamic control system which manages the driving and braking forces of all four wheels, in particular through the regulation of torque split between the left and right wheels.
As a starting point, the 4WD system feeds the optimum torque to the rear wheels as required by the throttle opening, vehicle speed and driving conditions. The S-AWC system in the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross incorporates a brake-activated Active Yaw Control (‘AYC’) system into the 4WD system, accurately determining driver inputs and vehicle behaviour via sensors measuring steering input, yaw rate, drive torque, brake force and wheel speed, directing yaw moment to the relevant system components to assist the vehicle in following the driver’s steering intent.
S-AWC improves handling through corners, vehicle stability when driving straight or changing lane, and over low-friction surfaces with a standard 80:20 front-to-rear torque split that can be instantly and continuously adjusted to a maximum of 55:45 front-to-rear in Auto mode.
The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross’ S-AWC system offers three drive modes, engaged through the drive mode selector located on the centre console. Under normal circumstances, the 4WD system uses Auto mode to manage torque feed and return the best fuel economy; if it encounters a low-friction surface or similar conditions it automatically apportions more torque to the rear wheels for better vehicle stability. Snow mode is for snow-covered and other slippery surfaces, while Gravel mode delivers full 4WD performance for difficult terrain, poor roads or to extract the vehicle when stuck in mud or snow.
While a front-wheel drive-biased system, the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross’ S-AWC torque split can significantly – and automatically – vary according to driving conditions, all the way to a rear-wheel drive bias in Snow or Gravel drive modes.
A significant contributor to the sporty characteristics of the new Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is its all-new, four-cylinder, 4B40 1.5-litre Direct-Injection turbocharged petrol engine. Producing a very flat torque curve from 1,800 rpm to 4,500 rpm, its instant throttle response can be attributed to its ‘MIVEC’ variable valve timing and compact turbocharger, while its advanced specification includes such details as sodium-filled valves, similar to those of the Lancer Evolution Final Edition.
The compact all-aluminium unit was also designed with weight reduction in mind, with cylinder heads integrated with the exhaust manifold and a resin intake manifold (20% lighter than an equivalent aluminium component while offering more than a 50% maximum reduction of air temperature).
The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross 1.5-litre petrol will be available with a 6-speed manual gearbox (FWD only) or a new CVT automatic transmission (FWD and AWD) which incorporates a new Sport Mode manual override, operated via the gear lever or steering wheel paddle shifters. With its eight “gears”, the Sport Mode provides close-ratio gearing that brings out the maximum potential of the engine, employing a new ‘Step-up’ shifting control system to generate a subtle momentary change in driving force, creating the sensation that the CVT is shifting gears like a traditional automatic transmission.
* Originally introduced in a very early form (‘AWC’) in the highly sophisticated 1987 Galant VR4, it was further developed along the 10 iterations of Lancer Evolution, before the introduction of a new take with Outlander PHEV in 2012 and its unique Twin (electric) Motor 4WD configuration.