If you're wondering what in Hades Mitsubishi is doing these days, you're not alone. The awesome Lancer Evo is gone, the regular Lancer is on its way out and the Galant, Diamante, and Montero are distant memories, leaving only five models that feel really dated. Then there's the long gone Eclipse sports car, which once defined the brand, along with the Montero SUV. The Eclipse went dark back in 2012, and though no-one really lamented the disappearance of its once-loved sports car, it certainly hurt the brand's image.
Well, Mitsubishi is apparently bringing the name back but not in the way you thought. Mitsubishi has confirmed that it's resurrecting the Eclipse nameplate to use it on a compact crossover. Chrysler re-used the Pacifica name from a big wagon to a minivan, so why can't Mitsu pull the same act?
Though the vehicle won't officially get released until the Geneva Motor Show in March, here's what we know so far:
- Mitsubishi is finished building sedans and coupes, and they're focusing on crossovers and SUVs instead. The Eclipse Cross's design will be racier than the rather dull Outlander Sport. Looking at the teaser shots here, it's easy to conclude that the new CUV will borrow some styling elements from the XR-PHEV II concept from the 2015 Geneva Auto Show.
- Euro-spec Eclipse Cross models should get a turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine or a 2.2-liter turbodiesel mill. The likelihood of the States getting a diesel is slim, in our opinion. A six-speed manual transmission and front-wheel drive will come standard, while a CVT and Mitsubishi's quite good S-AWC all-wheel drive system will be optional
- The Eclipse Cross should lead the way for the next generation of Mitsubishi design. It's quite obvious that the brand needs an injection of adrenaline, and the Eclipse Cross might just be the vehicle to do that.
- The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross show up in near-production form at the Geneva Auto Show in March, and the American version will likely show up a month later at the New York Auto Show.
Though it's been hard for us to be optimistic about the Mitsubishi brand, this might be the right move for them given the popularity of crossovers. But it's hard to dig yourself out of a negative perception in the public. Mileage scandal, crappy vehicles that feel totally outdated and the demise of key models makes the brand look like a sinking ship. They'll have to totally redefine how they do things, and the Eclipse Cross must knock it out of the park. The fact that they're using an old name might not be the best way to break free from the past. Only time will tell.