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Mitsubishi Outlander 2.2 DI-D GX5 Automatic driven by Simon Hacker
I’ve always thought our tests could do with a little more “lifestyle” – more material on how cars integrate into our lives, rather than purely how nice they look on the drive, or how majestically they glide down the motorway. We need more travel and food, I suggested to the editor – so here goes.
In the current climate, we need cars that can seriously multitask.
They need to stack up economically (which is why we all love diesels), drive with gusto (er, the same reason again) and not rush off to rehab if you show them more than a week’s shopping, or the family’s holiday suitcase set.
Did someone mention holidays? Such is the lot of most car hacks that the notion of actually going anywhere when the school holidays arrive seems as attractive as cycling in F1 – injuriously hard work and arguably interesting for the passport stamps, but probably to places we’ve all road tested through umpteen times.
Plus there’s the added disincentive of package-dealt, hyperinflated prices for a captive audience.
And given the weather this summer, what’s the point of frying in Florence when you can sizzle in Salcombe? Answers on a postcard, please, obviously from Salcombe.
Few of us ponder the thermodynamic benefits of colour choice when we option tick. At Diesel Car, we are even more frivolous for the fact that, should the hue give us the blues, it’ll not need to be endured for too long.
I quickly suspected that I made a mistake with this car though. Black, as I’ve reported in the back page of late, is a super-safe statement, technically not a colour at all, but it spells a bodywork that will suck up the sun and overheat, on average, to around five degrees more than white, or light silver.
The supermarket giants that rule our lives apparently work off a meteo-economic trigger: once the thermometer reaches 18˚C, the majority of British consumers, sheep that we are, will break out the barbecue and abandon the kitchen.
We will also clog up the entire nation’s road system in search of charcoal and minced cow, which is the precise point when all the black-car drivers out there on the road (even the ones who feel smug about not wasting a fortune on a summer holiday abroad) will discover the perils of failing to have been seduced by boring blue, wishy-washy white or standard-issue silver.
Because black spells hot, that spells more use of the AC button and hence more money from your budget.
And we all know how expensive fuel is. Though there is one benefit that a true economy minded diesel driver might spot here: if you’ve got a hot body, you can always cut your household fuel bill, be that for gas or briquettes, and rustle up something tasty on your bonnet.
Which is why this month’s report on the Outlander has to be Diesel Car’s first (and last, I suspect) to bring you a recipe.
I’m told that in Australia, there’s nothing unusual in strapping bit of road-tenderised marsupial to your radiator for brunch, while foil-wrapped spuds bake well on most engines world-wide.
Such options could probably catch on over here if our unusually clement conditions persist, but anyone with a black car will certainly have the edge.
And, if it’s an Outlander, even more so: it has a bonnet with sufficient cooking space to keep an army well breakfasted.
Further driving notes for this machine suggest its appeal can extend beyond doubling up as kitchen kit. Driven with enthusiastic feet, it’s capable of a performance that belies its barge-like outline.
And as a family tourer for families who wish for anything more exotic than fried eggs, it’s also proving to be excellent for Sunday lunch outings – no indigestion-inducing ride, plenty of space for collective post-prandial snoozing and an mpg reading that spells enough saved to spare the waiter a tip. As my adolescent passengers say, that’s cool.
|Power output:||148bhp at 3,500rpm|
|Maximum torque:||266lb ft at 1,500 to 2,750rpm|
We’re on the hunt for a small car. Fiscally speaking, our old(ish) Renault Grand Espace is Greece on wheels, so we’re downsizing, which means touring dealerships in the Outlander.
My wife and I take turns to scoot around the forecourts while the toddlers usually snooze. There are two drawbacks to this. First, this car is too flash when it comes to looking like a punter worthy of charity.
Secondly, other customers keep interrupting our investigations with questions about the Mitsubishi. What do I tell them? It’s a nice car, it’s a head-turner and it packs more technology than a CIA operative on the run. But slowness is also a theme. Slow? That flipping tailgate (many Outlanderphiles bemoan the now-axed split design) brings Dracula’s coffin to mind, à la 1922 Nosferatu.
The CD player takes 31 seconds to resume when you switch it back on (radio, 29) and when you pull out of a junction it displays all the equine eagerness of a depressed donkey. So you don’t like it then, they ask. Well, I have discovered one remedy for the donkeyness; it’s not my style, but I now actually squeeze the throttle, rather than just gently stroking it. And presto!
This apparent behemoth actually has grunt. So though I have lost entire tracts of my life waiting for the back door and the music, the engine is suddenly offering me a catch-up facility.
That’s also the reason for the mpg footnote, but it could be much worse, as the Espace taught me.
|Date arrived:||8th April 2013|
|Mileage to date:||2,221 miles|
|Fuel consumption:||48.7mpg (official combined)
41.1mpg (on test)
They say you should always get your reservations in early when beginning a new relationship. That way, you don’t end up festering with regret because it’s too late to air such issues later on.
So here goes with my issues with this car. Even if your loyalty card metadata says you need to drive – sorry, have to drive – a charabanc, you still want it to have something of the handsome steed about it.
In this league, few such options exist. Kia’s Sportage is one. And then there’s the, er… I struggle to quickly name others, unless cash is no object.
Sadly the Outlander feels less equine a proposition and more something bovine. That’s not – and this surprises even me – anything to do with the design and appearance. Park the New Outlander against Old and the edgy angularity of the predecessor suggests a sporty dynamism. Thus compared, the new model, albeit 135lbs lighter, is oddly ponderous.
Be assured though, such impressions won’t last long. Within just a month, I now “get” what the designers intended here. I like the streamlined, nautical sleekness of it all and – what a coup – there’s nothing else on the road to confuse it with.
Sometimes you can condemn a car at a glance; if you do that simply by ogling the Outlander you’ll soon change your mind. This phenomenon of automotive design, at the extreme end, probably explains why SsangYong Rodius owners don’t drive off the nearest cliff.
No, the bovinity, for want of a better word, stems from my impressions behind the wheel. First of all, three little letters spring to mind (actually there are acres of little letters associated with this car, more of which later) to strike an angst attack deep into the heart of any “hands-on” driver… CVT.
Bear in mind that this model has a six-speed auto box, it is decidedly not a CVT. It even has F1-derived change paddles on the steering wheel (which seems as optimistic as a solar panel in Manchester). So CVT it ain’t.
Yet there’s no getting away from the feel from the wheel: from the outset it’s slouchy; elsewhere, it’s given to inter-gear slurring when asked to offer a crisp impression of speed. Combined with a degree of body roll that tells you unequivocally you’re in a 4×4, and an unsettled ride quality at low speed, the driving experience is not what you might call seductive.
The cabin doesn’t blow that feeling away, either. There is ample evidence that your investment has been made to return tangible quality: swathes of leather here, some carbon fibre-effect inserts there and nice piano-black panelling to the dash.
But at a quid under £34,000 you might expect premiumness that might trigger beads of sweat on the foreheads of Audi salesmen. I’m not convinced it would.
Your money does, all the same, buy you a good amount of space. We’ve set it all up for six occupants with two lanky teenagers in the gods at the back plus two infants ensconced mid-ship.
Everyone’s happy, though with such a configuration set up you will need to think of roof-box options when it comes to a big trip away. Infernally over-sensitive and costly as it is, my personal motor is a Renault Grand Espace. Unfortunately for all SUVs that enter our driveway for testing, the old Renault, with seven seats and huge storage, seems to trump them every time.
Your £34k also returns acres of technology. We could do a pull-out supplement on what the Outlander GX5 offers, but key acronyms include adaptive cruise control (ACC) that can detect cars 200 metres ahead, a crash mitigation system (FCMS) that will detect a hazard ahead and, in extremis, apply the brakes, plus a lane departure warning (LDW). The latter is a hazard in itself on narrow, winding roads – especially when you start looking under the steering wheel to turn it off.
Does this seem negative so far? One suspects endearment may come in time. It’s hard not to see the 2.2-litre diesel Outlander as the warm-up act for the apparent genius of the plug-in hybrid version, due with us later this year.
On that note, I will leave you to ponder the awkward gap between the maker’s official combined consumption figure for this Outlander, and what I am achieving so far (with a hyper-careful right foot, but on some demanding short-run hills): 48.7mpg versus 34.5mpg.
|Price when new:||£33,999|
Whatever this new apparition obscuring the daylight in my driveway is, it’s certainly not Outland-ish.
Mitsubishi seems to have gone out of its way to tone down this all-new version of its big SUV. Like the latest ASX, the old model had a pronounced sports-goatee thing going on that announced its presence with Audi-esque brio.
What we now have is a Mach 3-smooth shape sketched by someone with a clear predilection for wind tunnels. Oh dear, does that sound like a cautious start?
Well, I did ask for Darth Vader black for my tester, which only serves to emphasise the homogeneity of the new shape. In white, the friction-defying grille and nose do make more of a visual statement.
On the more positive side, this is a seven-seat mothership, yet it has a tidy outline that falls short of the many statements out there that park as neatly as Eric Pickles on a beermat.
Lift the rear lid though (or rather wait and wait a bit more, while it bleeps and edges up) and there are acres of empty cubits to ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ at. In the driving seat, sufficient buttonage awaits to ensure you could write a fair few reports without ever doing anything so rash as to actually go out for a drive.
Being top spec, this model will, it appears, virtually drive itself.
The killer question will be if it can live up to the 48.7mpg claimed on the packet.
|Date arrived:||8th April 2013|
|Mileage to date:||1,025 miles|
|Fuel consumption:||48.7mpg (official combined)
45.1mpg (on test)