It has an easy act to follow,but can Mitsubishi’s next Outlander convince a choice-spoilt audience? Simon Hacker has few doubts…
Meet the Mitsubishi Shogun Lite. Or should that be the Mitsubishi Grandis Heavy? The all-new Outlander is a classic “crossover” car, a model that aims to straddle two markets – the estate car and the full-on offroader.
Ideally, that spells double sales benefits for dealers, but if it’s not quite right, the Outlander faces a future as the salesman’s Cinderella, the whatsitfor-mobile no bugger wants. And if you want a clearer image of what that means, have a look at the original model it replaces. Furthermore, the rivals look scary. Toyota’s Rav 4 has near listed-building status in the suburbs while Hyundai’s Santa Fé compensates for badge anaemia by overdosing on value. Peugeot’s 4007 and Citroen’s C-Crosser are also on the way, too. And while Mitsubishi’s new Shogun preaches to the converted, the Outlander is shouldered with a target of press-ganging a huge 75 per cent of its customer base from other brands, most of those being conventional passenger car drivers.
March 1 is its D-day, but an early chance to assess its potential came this month when the model was disrobed and sent out to play on the same mix of Spanish roads used to test this issue’s 2007 Shogun. That, in itself, is a measure of Mitsubishi’s confidence, though it should be said now that the Outlander’s off-road course markers steered the car onto less savage slopes than the ones intended for its beefier brother. Once again, this is a dreadful day for petrolheads: the three options on the way all rely on the same two-litre common-rail DI-D engine (the HDI unit borrowed from France). The bottomrung Equippe will set you back £19,449; the midrange Warrior, £21,999, and the top-end Elegance £24,749.
The Japanese penny has fully dropped: there’s no point in contemplating petroleum in this demanding context. And the performance figures drive this point home; 10.7 seconds is a respectable period of time to reach 60mph and the CO2 figure for the Elegance and Warrior of 183g/km puts the Outlander into pinpoint parity with a Peugeot 407 saloon. So its halo is rather shiny. Tell Friends of the Earth you own one and they’ll probably still let you join. Fuel consumption looks promising, too: these models claim 40.9mpg overall, but you might notice I haven’t mentioned the base-level Equippe… it musters 42.8mpg and chokes out slightly less carbon, at 174g/km. Why so? To some extent, it’s because the 16-inch wheels are more economical than the other cars’ 18-inchers; but it’s also because, ironically, this one doesn’t have PSA’s particulate filter.
So, unfortunately, you have to choose: save some dosh or spare another polar bear. Enough philosophy, what of the real deal? This is the bit Mitsubishi’s dealers should take note of, because I have some very good news. In short, this is a crackingly good motor. In the flesh, it has great design and proportions, knocking such heffalumps as the Rav4 into a classic cocked hat; on the move, it’s a fab travelling companion, (better even, perhaps, than my optional travel extra, the infamous Zog Ziegler of erstwhile Diesel Car fame). Up close, the predecessor’s beak has been replaced by a more masculine nose. The rear quarter window is reduced by the addition of a far musclier D-post and the entire cabin reworked. From the ground up, this is an entirely new model with a shorter and slimmer footprint than the predecessor. Now let’s get to the essence.
Aside from being a bit iffy looking, the previous Outlander had no gearing gadgetry, no hill descent control, a spineless petrol engine (with NO diesel option, ye-gads!) and four-speed auto transmission only. This model therefore, must win our 2007 award, when the moment comes around, for the maker who has most listened and learned. From Outlander 1 to 2, the shift is seismic. What we now have is a manual-transmission, diesel only model with keener performance figures, the ability to save fuel by driving in two-wheel drive mode, automatic four-wheel drive and a locking system for extra grip, plus – if you opt for the Warrior or Elegance, a “Hide and Seat” brace of extra benches in the tail, designed to fold out of the way when not needed. So this is a far more comprehensive family factotum and, given the car’s low centre of gravity, occupants spreading about in the back are less likely to be lunging for the sick bag – the ride is as good as any conventional car’s. Behind the wheel, the good news continues.
The Outlander has become a driver’s car with positive feedback from the steering, a responsive throttle (particularly at low speeds), quiet and smooth progress and neat, sharply defined instruments and switchgear that inspire enthusiasm. Edging off tarmac, all you need do is rotate the chunky dial near the handbrake and 4WD is instantly brought in, the LOCK setting being just a click away if things get tricky. We took our tester over a few miles of unpleasant stuff; its unruffled and calm approach prompted a period of selfpinching by the time we’d completed the course.
On sale: Now // Price from; 19,449 // Main rivals: Nissan Navara, Ford Ranger, Mitsubishi L200
- Price: £19,449 to £24,749
- Engine: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbodiesel
- Max Power: 138bhp at 4,000rpm
- Max Torque: 228lb ft at 1,750rpm
- Combined Consumption:40.9mpg (42.8mpg Equippe)
- CO2 Emissions (taxband): 183g/km (E)
- 0-62mph: 10.7 seconds
- Max speed: 117mph
Power heated seats
Leather-trim steering wheel
Side and curtain airbags
Rockford Fosgate audio system
HDD Sat Nav
Chrome door handles
Chrome headlamp bezels
Front resin guard
Alarm and keyless entry
Bluetooth hands free kit
FM/AM CD tuner with MP3
ABS with EBD
Electric door mirrors
Well built, practical, roomy, hugely versatile and good looking to boot – lovely
You shouldn’t have to choose between low C02 and low emissions