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Driven: Mitsubishi’s Eclipse Cross hybrid

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Are you frustrated by limited charging infrastructure and less-than-ideal range for electric cars? This technology blends the best of both worlds.

There’s no range of anxiety.

Mitsubishi’s plug-in hybrid combines a 2.4-liter petrol engine making 94kW and 199Nm with a pair of electric motors making 60kW and 70kW, powered by a small 13.8kWh battery. It can be driven on pure electric power for up to 55km, and when the battery is drained, the car switches to petrol power.

That allows owners to complete the average daily commute without burning any fuel, then head for the hills without the range anxiety associated with long road trips.

You can recharge the battery in about seven hours via a home power socket, or you can top it up to 80 percent with a more powerful DC charger in about 25 minutes. It also has a “Vehicle to Load” ability to power appliances and will ultimately be able to feed power into your house when infrastructure permits.

It’s not very exciting to drive.

The Eclipse Cross PHEV is no dynamic masterpiece. It weighs almost 2000kg, about 500 kilograms more than the petrol version, so it doesn’t feel as nimble.

The soft suspension means it can pitch under brakes and lean through corners, while it also takes a moment to settle over more significant dips and bumps taken at speed. Around town, it does a decent job ironing out smaller lumps and imperfections.

Acceleration is a little sluggish, and it can battle up steep hills. At highway speeds, it feels composed, although there’s a fair bit of road noise.

Progress comes at a cost.

Plug-in hybrids aren’t strong sellers in Australia, and prices are a big part of the problem. The Eclipse Cross PHEV range starts at about $50,000 drive-away for the base ES variant, while our top-of-the-range Exceed is priced at an eye-opening $60,000.

That’s about $14,000 more than the regular petrol-powered Exceed. It’ll be tough to claw back the difference in fuel savings over the car’s lifetime.

Mitsubishi claims fuel use is just 1.9L/100km, but that doesn’t reflect possible real-world use. You’ll use next to nothing for the first 50km, but consumption is on par with petrol-powered cars once the petrol engine kicks in. We managed fuel use of about 6L/100km during an extended drive in various conditions.

There is plenty of standard equipment.

The Exceed’s leather-appointed seats are heated at the front, as well as the rear window seats. A heated leather-wrapped steering wheel is a nice touch.

The eight-inch central touchscreen is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, while digital radio and satnav are standard. There are two USB charging points upfront, but back seat passengers do with a single 12-volt charger. The rear seats also miss out on aircon vents. The lack of a power tailgate or spare tire is a letdown at this price.

Mitsubishi has loaded up on active safety aids. The car will automatically brake if it detects a potential collision with a vehicle or pedestrian, and it will stop you from wandering out of your lane by gently tugging at the steering wheel. Blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alerts help with hard-to-see places.

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About author
Tristan McCue is a 26-year-old junior programmer who enjoys reading, binge-watching boxed sets, and appearing in the background on TV. He is smart and friendly, but can also be very evil and a bit lazy.He is an Australian Christian. He has a post-graduate degree in computing.
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