Japan's leading automotive journalist who has been in the industry for more than 30 years.
World Car Awards juror, International Engine of the Year judge.
Start to work in Vehicle Research Department for Mitsubishi Motors in 1996.
Program Director of C&D segment.

The challenge of a new-genre SUV

If there's a superstar in the automotive industry, it's unquestionably the SUV, which continues to gain market share against other vehicle categories such as sedans and hatchbacks. Naturally, automobile manufacturers continue to introduce new SUV models and the competition has become fierce. What makes the new Eclipse Cross from Mitsubishi Motors stand out from the crowd? According to Eclipse Cross program director Hiroshi Yamauchi, its strengths are "style, sportiness, high-class quality and certain Mitsubishi Motors SUV features."

If you saw the Eclipse Cross at the Geneva Motor Show in March, you already noticed its style, sportiness and quality, which were unanimously praised by observers. But what are the Mitsubishi Motors SUV features that Dr. Yamauchi was speaking of? Let’s ask him.

“Mitsubishi Motors has been manufacturing SUVs for several decades now. We launched the Pajero in 1982, so it’s been 35 years. And our 4WD history reaches back to 1936, when we developed a full-time 4WD PX33 prototype that was never mass produced. Using various know-how gained throughout our long history, we have now created a new alternative for the current SUV market where many models are closely competing”.
Recent trends have been leading the industry away from “genuine SUVs". An increasing number of passenger cars feature popular SUV styling, but offer ground clearance no higher than regular passenger cars. They also tend to sacrifice functionality for style. Drivers who prioritize fashion trends may be satisfied, but drivers seeking a genuine on-road SUV want something more. These are the drivers that Mitsubishi Motors is targeting with a compact SUV that offers high-class quality and sporty styling without compromising functionality. It's just what you would expect from Mitsubishi Motors, and it clearly sets the Eclipse Cross apart from the crowded competition.

The heart of an SUV. The styling of a coupé.

“Our designers sought to achieve a stylish design without compromising Mitsubishi Motors' fundamental SUV philosophy. Of course, balancing the contradictory demands of SUV functionality and coupé styling required considerable effort. But painstaking attention to such factors is one of the benefits that Mitsubishi Motors offers its customers. We went the extra mile without hesitation. The Eclipse Cross offers "urban style," but it also gives drivers confidence and peace of mind when driving in conditions such as snow, rain and unpaved terrain because it's an SUV from Mitsubishi Motors," says Dr. Yamauchi.
The “S-AWC” integrated control system made this possible. One of Mitsubishi Motors' major technological advantages, this system was developed for the Lancer Evolution and Outlander PHEV as the core of 4WD electronic control. Another advantage of the Eclipse Cross over other crossover SUVs is its exceptional ground clearance.

S-AWC and ground clearance approaching that of a heavy-duty 4WD vehicle – this combination alone tells you the driving performance of the Eclipse Cross is far beyond that of other on-road SUVs.

Style and practicality without compromise

Mitsubishi Motors SUVs are known for offering sporty looks without sacrificing practicality. And this is true of the striking new Eclipse Cross, which has a bold wedge shape when viewed from the side. Yet a bisected rear window prevents this shape from adversely affecting rear visibility. From the driver's seat, the rear view is clear even without a rear-view camera.

“The streamlined rear styling only slightly reduces space in the rear seat and cargo areas," says Dr. Yamauchi.

But high rear side windows more than compensate by creating a sense of openness. The somewhat compact rear cargo area can also be expanded by sliding the rear seat forward. So style and practicality are both achieved. In every era, Mitsubishi Motors offers distinctive SUVs.

"Our thinking may seem old fashioned in an era when camera use is spreading. But our engineers sought to provide a clear view, which is one of the basics of car making. We Mitsubishi Motors engineers are always conscious of such unwritten rules," explains Dr. Yamauchi.

Perhaps the words from Dr. Yamauchi that struck me most were “the Eclipse Cross is an SUV with coupé styling, not a coupe with SUV styling." And I have to agree with him. It's sporty and stylish like a coupe, but unquestionably a Mitsubishi Motors SUV.