SOME of my most enduring memories of writing about cars over the years have involved driving Mitsubishi models in this country and abroad especially the Shogun which is now getting a bit long in the tooth but there is a new 4x4 car in their range and it is carrying on the tradition of producing good quality and reliable cars especially 4x4s writes Bryan Longworth.
It is the Outlander which is a seven seater SUV that that is not as big and butch as the Shogun but which has more all round appeal especially to family owners with its seven seats - the two rear seats fold flat into the load area floor when not required.
Outlander is a much more modern vehicle being very competent both on and off the road and the test car was loaded with standard equipment including forward collision mitigation system which helps prevent running into the vehicle in front plus lane departure warning and a powered tailgate.
It is also the first Mitsubishi to fully show off the Japanese manufacturer’s new design language being their first new car for three years and the result is a very attractive body especially up front where the latest Outlander has plenty of street appeal.
Mitsubishi say that the competition includes the Honda CR-V, Hyundai Santa Fe and the Kia Sorento but I think there are quite few more competitors such as the Land Rover Freelander for example because Outlander has such wide appeal.
My test car was the top model the Outlander 2.2 DI-D GX5 Auto costing £33,999 with a 2.2-litre diesel engine giving the car a top speed of 153mph, zero to 62mph in 10.2 seconds, CO2 emissions of 153g/km and a combined fuel consumption of 48.7mpg.
The third row of seats is a big improvement on the previous Outlander with two individual seats replacing the bench seat although they are more suitable for children or smaller adults and with them folded rear luggage space is extremely impressive but as with many seven seaters in my experience the third row of seats are rarely used.
What I liked about Outlander was the eager and quiet diesel engine linked to the six speed automatic gearbox plus the fact that it was much like driving a normal car rather than some of the big 4x4s with its handling qualities which will help to sell it and should make it popular with female drivers in particular because it should be a useful vehicle for the school run with its seating capacity.
My Outlander had a very roomy and comfortable leather clad interior comprehensive instrumentation and information systems that includes satellite navigation and a nice and very effective user friendly audio system.
One feature that struck me as soon as I started driving the test car was that the engine start/stop button was hidden behind the light stalk and the steering wheel manual gearchange paddle and a niggle at night was that the window switches on the drivers door were not very well illuminated and difficult to locate.
The attractions of the Outlander will increase later this year when Mitsubishi launch a plug-in electrically powered model with a petrol engine for topping up the batteries and increasing the range of the car which is a very interesting development especially with its much lower emissions.
Mitsubishi had a very good year for sales in 2013 after dropping considerably from their best ever UK sales figures and 2014 sales should build on this considerably now they have got Outlander and Mirage plus the Shogun price reduction.
My Verdict: New Outlander will be a sales booster.
Model: Mitsubishi Outlander 2.2 DI-D GX5 Auto.
Engine: 2.2-litre diesel.
Transmission: Six speed automatic with low ratios.
Top speed: 153mpg.
Acceleration: 0 to 62mph 10.2 seconds.
Fuel consumption: 48.7mpg combined.
CO2 emissions: 153g/km.
Price: £33,999 on the road.