Friday, 25 January 2013

REVIEW - Mitsubishi Outlander GX4

What you are looking at here is a Mitsubishi Outlander. It is based on the same platform as the Peugeot 4007. What it is is a large, spacious 5-seater with two more seats hidden in the boot. It's a (relatively) inexpensive Chelsea Tractor perfect for a school run. But it also has a 4WD system and mine came fitted with a Sport-Shift Transmission (SST) which has created quite a stir. All things considered this was likely to be an interesting test; read on to see what I thought of the Outlander...

Looks - 8/10

The Outlander is a rather nice looking car. The first thing you notice is the 'Mitsubishi Nose' which can be seen across the range. I like that, it gives the car a sense of identity. Furthermore, when you see this car coming toward you that nose is rather imposing. Despite it being a very large car it looks rather menacing in your rear view mirror. From the back it looks good too. With its LED lights (albeit clear; we think darker would have looked better), twin exhausts and split-folding tailgate its rather nice. What lets the Outlander down slightly is the side profile, in particular the rear-most windows. They're small and not brilliant for those inside either. The Outlander is very tall, and unfortunately looks it from the side profile. There is a lack of sleekness which is more noticeable because of the front end styling. Because this IS a big car, looking big isn't the end of the world and the Outlander isn't exactly ugly.

Onto the interior then, and the Outlander is really nice inside. Being the GX4 model I had leather everywhere; even the dashboard was covered in the stuff, which gave a really great quality feel to the cabin. The seats are nice and the instrument panel is very smart. All the controls look higher quality and nothing looks or feels cheap which is nice. I thought the gear knob was a bit small, but maybe that was because the cabin was so big. Being the automatic, I had lovely aluminium paddles behind the steering wheel which were perfectly positioned, and the touch-screen media system sits nicely in the dash and adds yet more premium feel.

Handling/Performance - 8/10

The engine in my Outlander test model was the 2.2-litre diesel unit producing 156PS and 380Nm of torque. That's not too shabby really and is enough to haul the 2-and-a-half-ton lump from 0-62mph in 11.1 seconds and onto a top speed of 123mph. It doesn't feel as slow as it is on paper, and this I feel is down to the brilliant gearbox. My car was fitted with the Sport Shift Transmission (SST) automated manual gearbox. This means you can run it in auto mode or you can utilise the paddles behind the steering wheel and take control of the gears yourself. What I will say is that it is rather responsive; changing gear almost instantaneously. There are also driving modes or normal and sport. In manual mode I couldn't fathom any difference between them, but in auto mode the sports mode holds the revs for longer and changes gear at higher revs. On the whole the Outlander performs well for a car of its size, and I couldn't knock it too much.

Onto the handling now, and that's where the Outlander loses a couple of points. Now I understand that this is a large (and heavy) car, but that doesn't mean it has to handle like one. There are SUVs out there that drive like regular cars. Not the Outlander though. Chuck this car into a corner at speed and it really feels as big as it looks. It does lean somewhat, and doesn't inspire you with too much confidence. Having said that I found that by driving the Outlander in 4WD mode, the handling did improve. I think this is because contrary to my expectations, in 2WD mode the car runs as a front wheel drive, which coupled to a big diesel engine could cause poorer handling. In 4WD mode, the car feels more sure footed and predictable. It still leans through the bends (which is more noticeable without too much side support on the seats) but then again it is taller than the Eiffel Tower...

Economy - 6/10

The Outlander is let down somewhat when it comes to economy. On a combined cycle it can offer around 39.2mpg. Not brilliant, but also not disastrous. The biggest let down is on the emissions. Because of the automatic gearbox (and partly to the lack of fuel-saving technology like a stop/start system) the emissions are 189g/km CO2. What that means in real terms is that 12 months road tax will set you back £250. Beware though, because the first year rate on a car in band J is a whopping £460. Gulp. Luckily the 6 speeds on the gearbox help you to sip diesel at a more preferable rate. I think the reason the economy feels a let down is because of the pressures to cut emissions and increase fuel efficiency. We are so used to seeing the biggest of cars cut their emissions dramatically that we forget these higher tax bands exist.
Practicality - 10/10

Onto a more positive section here because the Outlander more than made up for it's economy woes by offering immense levels of practicality. Take this car as a 5-seater SUV with a big boot and you will find it does everything you need it too. But it gets better. Hiding underneath the floor of the large boot is a bench seat that can seat a further two people. I say people; really they are only suitable for children. We did manage to get a couple of adults in the back, but I was told it would have been unbearable on anything more than a short trip.

The boot itself is enough to house a small planet. The height of the Outlander really does mean you can use the space as well. What I liked the most about the boot space was the split-folding rear tailgate. When parked up this can double up as a comfortable bench which is always handy. When loading cargo it really does help to not have to manoeuvre items (particularly if heavy) to get them in the boot.

Onto the cabin then and the rear seats are very easy to use to let people in and out of the back. They also slide forwards to allow those in the rear more legroom, and recline a touch (think airplane seats) for the comfort of those using them. What was great was that even with the middle row pushed as far forward as possible there was still plenty of legroom. The front-seat passengers won't even know what's going on at the back because they are seemingly in their own timezone; a peaceful one at that. On a cold day you can flick on the heated seats and be most comfortable as your bottom gets toasty.

Fun - 7/10

So the question to be answered here, is one of fun. Does driving the Outlander put a smile on your face? Does it make you want to drive anytime of day? you get the picture. Well the answer is a little less straight-forward. It is a good car, and has some wonderful technology in it. I do like Mitsubishi's touch-screen media system. It is a sat-nav, radio, CD, iPod, bluetooth etc. system that is very user friendly and makes any drive much more relaxing. One thing that makes a car good is a decent stereo with the ability to connect your favourite songs via some device or other.

As a whole car it just doesn't give off a fun impression. You catch your reflection in shop windows and can easily make out the large silhouette of the Outlander very easily, and you just know you are in a large, practical 4x4 that, despite being able to trundle around in the snow and rain without issue, will never ignite your petrol-head fire.

I do think I am being a little bit harsh here, because the Outlander has a fair few tricks up its sleeve and was enjoyable to live with for a week. I give the big Mitsubishi a respectable 7 to complete its scoring for this review.

Concluding Remarks

The Mitsubishi Outlander. A 7-seater SUV. It has a nice diesel engine to get you going and a 4WD system to ensure you stick on the road too. There's a good level of kit as standard as well, meaning you won't need to go silly with the options list. The cheapest in the range is the 2WD GX3 Manual which will set you back £22,743 and the GX4 SST I tested tops the range at £31,029. You get good value across the range, but if you don't need 4WD then the aforementioned GX3 is frankly a steal. If you want any more info simply visit or pop into a dealership

Total Score - 39/50

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