- INTERVIEW／SMART DRIVING
The Eclipse Cross is a crossover that only Mitsubishi Motors, with its long tradition of building SUVs, could have made. While perfection is impossible, since people seek all sorts of different things from cars, the more you examine the details of the Eclipse Cross, touch its components and hear the stories from its makers, the more you come to appreciate both its design and the effort behind its development.
While specifically focusing on a "stylish SUV" concept, Mitsubishi Motors also aimed to satisfy as many users as possible by eliminating compromise and meeting user demands. This is what drove Mitsubishi Motors to release a new SUV.
One of the most important factors was driving performance, particularly all wheel control, "which is one of Mitsubishi Motors' core strengths," Dr. Yamauchi reminded us.
"When you see an SUV emblazoned with three diamonds, you can be sure it has a strong 4WD heritage.
The company is solidly committed to providing advanced all wheel control technology that raises safety, peace of mind, fatigue-free riding comfort and driving pleasure.
Of course, a highly rigid body was necessary to meet these requirements. We also developed a new petrol engine and significantly enhanced the diesel engine."
All wheel control technology heritage & advanced new engine
The Eclipse Cross is equipped with Mitsubishi Motor’s advanced S-AWC (Super All Wheel Control) system, which enhances both straight-line stability and cornering performance by precisely controlling the torque supplied to each of the four wheels.
When first introduced in the legendary Lancer Evolution X, it forever destroyed the notion that 4WD vehicles are difficult to turn.
In the early stages of Eclipse Cross development, management had not yet decided whether to incorporate S-AWC or not. This worried team member Mr. Hachisuka.
“I specifically entered the automotive industry to develop 4WD technology and chose Mitsubishi Motors because it was the best in the field," he explained.
"Naturally, I was thrilled when they decided to equip the Eclipse Cross with S-AWC.”
The S-AWC system in the Eclipse Cross uses braking to control the supply of torque to the left and right wheels for improved stability and control.
It's based on the same principles as the S-AWC systems in the Outlander, Outlander PHEV and Lancer Evolution X and builds upon Mitsubishi Motors' legacy of all wheel control technology.
One of two engines powers the Eclipse Cross: the newly developed 1.5L petrol downsized turbo engine, which is Mitsubishi Motors' first down-sized turbo, or the 2.2L diesel turbo engine, a significantly improved version of the 4N14 engine in the Delica D:5.
The petrol engine provides "pleasing response, high revolutions and strong acceleration,” according to Mr. Yamaguchi. And the diesel engine, we were told by Mr. Miyamoto, features a newly designedcrankshaft, pistons and connecting rods that reduce friction and noise while increasing fuel economy and torque. The engineers are quite proud of how quickly the engine responds to accelerator pedal input.
Both Mr. Yamaguchi and Mr. Miyamoto intend to buy the Eclipse Cross because of their involvement in the development of its excellent engines.
Body rigidity and adhesive welding
Mitsubishi Motors also attached importance to the quality of the ride. Cars offering a great ride tend to have highly rigid bodies, but blindly adding rigidity can easily increase vehicle weight. So how does one construct a body that is both lightweight and rigid? The development team turned to adhesive technologies.
Spot-welding is normally used to join body panels, but there's a limit to how many spot welds can be added. With adhesives, one can join entire surfaces rather than spots to significantly raise rigidity.
Some were concerned that adhesives would complicate the manufacturing process, but when they test drove prototypes with and without adhesives, "they noticed the advantages immediately," said Mr. Miyanishi.
Everyone was surprised by how spectacular the difference was in terms of buzz, squeak and rattle. They felt they were driving a high-end car. And from that moment on, the production division enthusiastically supported the use of adhesives.
For further reinforcement, all grades of the Eclipse Cross feature a standard strut bar over the engine.
"Our goal for the suspension was direct response and linear characteristics," Mr. Miyanishi told us.
Rather than place priority on superficial feelings of sportiness such as sense of agility and balance, the team focused on providing direct, intuitive handling. Achieving this in an SUV with a relatively high center of gravity required careful attention to the tires, dampers, suspension bushings and so on, as well as responsive steering.
"When customers see the styling they expect high performance, and we did everything in our power to successfully meet those expectations,” Mr. Torii assured us.
The styling of the Eclipse Cross impels you to take it for a drive. Does the performance live up to the looks? The passion of the development team suggests we won't be disappointed.
KEISUKE ONDA ( Chassis Control Design Vehicle Component Design Dept. ) / YASUO YAMAGUCHI ( Manager of Gasoline Engine System Engineering Group ) / MASARU MIYANISHI ( Engineer of Ride & Handling Engineering Development ) / KUNIHIRO KOSHINO ( Diesel Engine Calibration )
/ MASANOBU MIYAMOTO ( Assistant Manager of EV and Powertrain Engineering Promotion Dept. ) / GORO OKAZAKI ( Japan's leading automotive journalist ) / HIROSHI YAMAUCHI ( Program Director of C&D segment ) / ATSUSHI TORII ( Assistant Manager, Product Planning Dept. ) / SHOGO YOSHIDA ( Advanced Vehicle Development Dept. ) / RYO HACHISUKA ( Drivetrain Control Engineering, Drivetrain Engineering Dept. )
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