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CAPE TOWN – What was once an exciting midsize sportscar which even featured in the 2001 hit movie The Fast and the Furious has now bloated into crossover aimed at a more conservative consumer. Of course, their likeness is in name only, but it’s interesting that Mitsubishi has applied this name to a vehicle so far removed from the original. Thankfully the suffix “Cross” clarifies things.

The new Eclipse Cross ticks all the de rigueur Japanese crossover boxes and both 4x2 and 4x4 models offer a raised ride height, a naturally aspirated 2,0-litre four-cylinder and a continuously variable transmission. To those elements, it adds stellar standard specification plus seven airbags, active yaw control, a brake-assist system and electronic stability and traction control.

In order to stand out in this segment, the Eclipse Cross bears the brand’s mildly outlandish “Dynamic Shield” design philosophy up front, where the sharp angles and slim headlamp design will certainly get the vehicle noticed. The rear is more conservative and the squared-off hatchback and triangular taillamp don’t quite possess the drama of the front-end.

Inside, there are sober trim finishes – with a few too many hard plastics – but, as I mentioned, the equipment tally is generous. As standard, the Eclipse Cross ships with heated front seats, a feature-rich infotainment system, head-up display and dual-zone climate control.

Packaging is a hit-and-miss affair. Compared with some of its rivals, the cabin feels rather cramped in the back and the boot is sufficient rather than generous (it does, however, house a full-size alloy spare wheel).

Driving the Eclipse Cross unearths few surprises, with an easy-going nature thanks to light, responsive electrically assisted steering. The engine lacks low-down torque, leading to sluggish off-the-line acceleration, but once up to speed the Eclipse Cross is an accomplished cruiser. The soft ride, however, does result in pronounced body lean through faster bends.

This 2,0-litre Eclipse Cross is well suited to urban commutes but can struggle once the driver’s expectations of the engine’s performance are raised. If you require more power, wait for the turbocharged 1,5-litre petrol engine Mitsubishi plans add to the range in the third quarter of 2019.

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