When the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross was revealed, it was hard not to be disappointed. Merging sleek coupe looks with SUV utility, applying the iconic Eclipse badge to a crossover probably isn’t what fans of the original sporty coupe were hoping for. In an interview with Motoring, the Japanese automaker revealed its plans to expand the Eclipse Cross range into a family of compact SUVs – including a sporty model that could potentially revive the iconic Ralliart badge used for its rally cars and performance models.
“It’s possible,” Mitsubishi’s Program Director C&D-segment, Hiroshi Yamauchi, said when asked about the possibility of a Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Ralliart model at Geneva. “I think that is one option, but first I want to get the feedback from the market and then I will decide which direction should be on the life-cycle management.” Yamauchi added that this feedback process would take over a year. “I am not sure at this moment which direction is appropriate for new Eclipse Cross… The Ralliart version is one option.” However, fuel efficiency and meeting emissions regulations is a priority for automakers, which can make extracting more performance from turbo engines challenging.
“[For the Ralliart version we would like] to improve the torque, much more sporty, that is my expectation,” he told Car Advice. “But of course fuel economy is much more important so I am not sure which direction is appropriate for the new Eclipse Cross.” A three-door version of the Eclipse Cross is another future possibility, but Yamauchi admitted that this is dependent on sales of the standard five-door model. “Three-door version is interesting, that is my opinion. But business-wise it is difficult due to small unit volume. If we want to develop a three-door version I need much more investment – a lot of money.”
To get more investment we need much more volume all over the world. So at this moment I think it would be very difficult to develop a three-door version.” Previous rumors have hinted that an Evolution crossover could be on the cards, but Yamauchi flatly ruled this out. “Ralliart version is one option,” he told Car Advice, “but the Evolution [there] is no plan, because Evolution is completely different from sporty – it’s sports, not just sporty.” It’s a stark contrast to Toyota and Honda, which are trying to reinvigorate their brands with new sports cars. And if you are praying that we will see a successor to the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, chief operating officer Trevor Mann offers a faint glimmer of hope.
However, Mitsubishi’s focus will still be on crossovers for the foreseeable future as the automaker tries to re-establish itself in the US . “I wouldn’t say [sports cars] are no longer on the radar,” he said. “It’s something that is part of our heritage, but we have to understand what is the right thing to do, and how we make a sustainable future. And when you have a sustainable future you can have the nice-to-haves. We have to make sure we have a very strong and robust model line-up that can sustain all the other things that we would like to do.”