Friday, 2 August 2013

REVIEW - Mitsubishi Outlander GX4 [New Model]

If you recall it wasn't too long ago I reviewed the Mitsubishi Outlander. It actually scored a very respectable 39, but there were specific areas for improvement. Most notably there were styling issues from the side/back, poor economy on the auto I tested, and a seeming lack of fun. So how will the new one compare; have these issues been addressed? Read on to find out...

Looks - 9/10

I think the most notable difference in the Outlander is the way it looks. You have to look really hard to even realise you are looking at the same cars. The Mitsubishi face has been replaced by what is best described as 'concept car' styling. It does look tremendous. The front and back are much improved, but the side profile is still the reason I can't award the Outlander a perfect score. It still looks too tall, and i know it is tall, but with the way the rest of the car is styled I would have thought this could have been avoided. The wheels are nice, and at 18" are a good size too.

Moving on to the inside and you will like it in here. My GX4 is towards the top end of the range, which means it has a lot of the goodies such as the full leather, touch-screen media and dual-zone climate control. The piano black finish is top-end, and the soft-touch plastics are nice too. The other trim includes a silver 'carbon' trim which looks very nice, and all the dials look jazzy too. The interior was a truly nice place to be and that showcases Mitsubishi's development in recent years. So credit to them for that.

Handling/Performance - 7/10

I opted for the 6-speed manual this time around, as I tested the Sport-Shift Transmission (SST) in the last model. It was coupled to the 2.2-litre diesel engine. It develops 150PS and 380Nm of torque, goes from 0-62mph in 10.2 seconds and on to a top speed of 124mph. The Outlander doesn't feel fast, but then you wouldn't expect it to. What's more important is that it doesn't feel like a slouch. The torque is good too which means you don't find yourself changing gear too often. There's more than enough power for the Outlander to more than hold its own on the motorway, and also to overtake on the A-roads if you ever need to. All models come with 4WD and this can be adjusted to 'Lock' and 'Eco' modes depending on the surface you are driving on. I found myself in 'Eco' mode the most.

The handling does let the Outlander down. Whilst there is a good level of grip from the 4WD system- you will appreciate this greatly if you find yourself in adverse weather- the size of the Outlander is reflected in the handling. There is a certain sense that corners are unnatural in the Outlander. I think the root cause of this is the vague steering. It doesn't ruin the car, but you do notice it, especially on roundabouts. You just have to put more lock on than you would think necessary, and there is a bit of body roll too. Aside from this the Outlander does great. It's perfectly comfortable whatever the surface and in particular is like driving a cloud on the motorway. This helps massively on a long drive, and the Outlander is also quiet at motorway speeds which makes it doubly relaxing.

Economy - 10/10

This is where I had my gripe with the SST model last time around. Thankfully there has been a lot of improvement here too. The 6-speed manual has start/stop technology and emits 140g/km CO2. This makes road tax £125 (and the same in the first year too). That's much better, and you will not mind that at all considering the size and practicality of the car. Fuel consumption is respectable too. On a combined cycle you can expect 52.3mpg and that's excellent in such a big beast as the Outlander.

Practicality - 10/10

It's no surprise that the Outlander gets a perfect 10 here. When you consider the 7-seat capacity, cavernous boot and vast cabin, there's really nothing more you could want.The various combinations in the cabin can be operated without reading the instructions- they're rather intuitive- and that means you could do it with the shopping bags in your hand too. The middle row of seats have a clever system allowing them to fold flat in line with the boot floor. This makes for a truly vast space in which you could fit just about anything.

The third row of seats can also be operated single-handed and that's invaluable when the kids are raring to go. One feature that didn't survive in the new model is the split tailgate. This is a really useful feature if you have it, but you don't miss it if it's not there. Also aiding the practicality on my GX4 test car was the reversing camera, bluetooth, cruise control, speed limiter and auto lights/wipers. The Outlander is effortless to drive and a pleasure to live with, and is a great family car.

Fun - 7/10

This was another area where I felt the old model fell down slightly, and I regrettably feel this hasn't changed much. Perhaps it's just the type of car the Outlander is. As a twenty-something, the big family car just doesn't have the same appeal. It never made me want to grab the keys and sett off to nowhere. I couldn't fault the Outlander for much, but it just never made a lasting impression on me. There was just nothing that put a smile on my face everytime I got in it, and I just always felt I was driving a great car. But I never felt I was driving a special car, and that's a shame.

Concluding Remarks

The new Outlander shows an improved score of 43 over the old model's 39, and that reflects the improvements made. It really ticks all the boxes for a practical family car, and there are two extra seats as a bonus. You can carry anything in the back thanks to clever seats, and the Outlander won't bankrupt you either. The range starts at £23,699 and goes all the way to a rather pricy £33,999 (but for that you get every conceivable gadget on the planet). I'd personally go for middle-of-the-range, and stick to the manual gearbox. If you think the Outlander may be for you then take a look at the Mitsubishi website or pop into a dealership. The new Mitsubishi Outlander is the practical car with concept-car styling- a fantastic combination.

Total Score - 43/50

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