Should you even care about the new Mitsubishi Outlander? The new Outlander is based on the old model but has a revised diesel powerplant and new transmission that offers superb stats, while there’s loads more room and tech to go with it. It’s four-wheel drive and comes with a six-speed auto and seven seats. This is the top-of-the-line GX5, which costs £33,999 to make a slightly more than the flagship five-seat Honda CR-V and seven-seat Hyundai Santa Fe. Can it muster a genuine fight to its more popular rivals?
So is just the old car with a new shell?
That’d be selling it short. The slightly odd styling, which is a mix of curves and a slightly bulbous, almost Peugeot-like nose, is at odds against competition that’s tossed out the French Curves and relied on setsquares instead. It’s lost that jacked-up Lancer look of the previous model, with a stronger identity of its own, but underneath our test car is the old car’s platform meaning it has the same wheelbase. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, as it gives the Outlander some genuine off-road capability and also offers loads of space. What is new is the six-speed transmission, which weighs less and changes gears much more smoothly than before. The 2268cc aluminum diesel four-pot is the only engine offered (Mitsubishi calls it a 2.2-litre, but it’s closer to 2.3).
So does it drive like a car or a truck?
The diesel is not in VW diesel passenger car leagues in terms of refinement, but it’s not exactly a rough engine either. Claimed output is 148bhp, which is down from 154bhp, but the Outlander now weighs 135kg less than the equivalent previous model, so it feels perkier to drive. Fewer kilos also mean it can getaway with 14 Ib ft less torque too, with 266 Ib ft from a lower 1500rpm. In a straight line, it doesn’t feel heavy or cumbersome. In fact, mash the throttle and the slightly delayed response shows not only the more usable torque, but also the soft suspension. Changes of direction aren’t its forte, as despite the all-wheel drive’s grip, body control is sloppy at speed, and while the brake pedal has a solid feel, there’s a heap of dive under braking. It requires a deft touch and patience to drive, especially around central London, where it somehow seems to know it’s in the capital and hence drinks diesel like a stockbroker sinking champagne before 2008. Paddleshifters behind the steering wheel? A little optimistic…
Can you switch the four-wheel drive off?
No, but the Outlander will do it for you via it’s auto mode. The chrome-rimmed button in the centre console switches between auto and eco, where it sends drive to the front wheels and only feeds the rear wheels in slippery situations. This saves fuel, which is most notable on the motorway, where it seems to be the miser that Mitsubishi promises and actually achieves better than 40mpg. That’s not too far short of the combined claim of 48.7 combined figure, but still well shy of the 55.4mpg extra urban figure.
It offers loads of space, and acronyms?
Absolutely. As well as the ones we all ignore, like ABS and ESP, the Outlander has ACC (Adaptive Cruise Control) with a speed limiter, FCM (Forward Collision Mitigation) and LDW (Lane Departure Warning). You can adjust the distances for the cruise and FCM system, too.
The Outlander has a Master’s degree in space, with enough room in the back for three adults, with particularly good headroom. There’s a third row of seats, but save these for small children or adults that demand a lift then never return the favour. Luggage space is improved, with up to 1022 litres when both rows of rear seats are folded flat. There’s an electronic tailgate, but it’s frustratingly slow at opening and makes all sorts of noises to let your neighbours know that it’s 3am and you’re finally home. Same goes for the proximity key, which wouldn’t work in my jacket pocket, defeating the purpose…
You haven’t mentioned the cabin, so it must be a non-event?
The cabin’s design isn’t a revelation, but you can’t criticise the fit and finish. The gloss black stuff surrounding the centre screen isn’t the classiest, but that’s not what the Outlander’s going for. This is the top model – the GX5 –and refreshingly, Mitsubishi hasn’t added a single option to it. The leather seats offer a high driving position as they’re a little firm and flat, which you notice on long journeys, and the position of some of the buttons – which are lost behind the wheel – is something you’d get used to. The nav is easy to read, and has handy features such as the next services etc. and also doubles as the screen for the reversing camera. While the camera’s not so clear at night, the Bi-xenons are brilliant at turning night into day.
You don’t buy an Outlander for driving dynamics or entertainment, but for space, practicality and low running costs – and that’s exactly what it does.
It has more space, better drivability and lower running costs than before and isn’t too bad to drive. It’s not badly made, either, and comes loaded with gear, but it’s not as car-like to drive as the thirstier Hyundai Sante Fe, which comes with more equipment for slightly less cash. It is a step up from its predecessor though, but the main drawcard will likely be the Outlander PHEV, which lands later this year with a claimed 149mpg. Depending on price, that might mix things up a bit…