The refreshed super-clean Outlander PHEV may be the bright spark of Mitsubishi’s latest line-up.
The trusty diesel will be the model which attracts high-mileage drivers, motorists with large families, and those who need to own a tow car. Jonathan Smith drives it.
A clever facelift has dramatically transformed the appearance of the new Mitsubishi Outlander. The anodyne and somewhat bland nose gets a ‘dynamic shield’ which gives the robust SUV a new face which packs real sense of road presence. And coupled with the fresh grille and slim, wraparound LED headlights with sparkly daytime running lights, Mitsubishi’s best seller is now better equipped to rival models such as the new Nissan X-Trail and Discovery Sport.
At the rear, horizontal trim between the back lights adds an impression of width, making the car look better planted. Restyled alloys wheels and roof bars add to the distinctive effect. The cabin, too, has come in for a restyle and the result is a far classier, simpler and smarter environment.
But the pleasing eye-gloss is only part of the story, and fortunately the improvements are more than skin deep.
Although there was never much doubt about the Outlander’s credibility as tough, go-anywhere mud-lugger, the diesel fell somewhat short when it came to mechanical refinement and dynamic capability.
The new version is noticeably quieter, thanks to a total of 40 measures to cut NVH as it’s known in the trade (reduce noise, vibration and harshness), a common bugbear of diesel power plants. The windscreen now uses acoustic glass and thicker panes are fitted to the rear doors. New damping sheets are built into the design at crucial places and extra insulation is added to the tailgate trim, engine cover and the floor.
Attention was also paid to the engine and transmission cradles, body panels and door mirrors. The effect is noticeable at tickover and as the revs pick up the improved refinement becomes still more evident.
Powered by a 2.2litre, four cylinder common-rail diesel engine which knocks out a respectable 150ps, the Outlander polishes off the 62mph sprint in 10.2 seconds and goes on to a max of 125mph. A six speed manual gearbox is standard with the option of automatic transmission, also with six ratios. With CO2 emissions of just 139g/km, the manual diesel is among best in class at keeping tax low. The automatic emits 154g/km. The official combined economy is 53.3mpg.
Whereas the PHEV is whisper quiet as it wafts along in electric mode, the diesel – even with its newfound engine muting – is audible but not intrusive. However, the sound is far from objectionable and kind of suits a big, beefy SUV. Another likeable characteristic is the abundant torque – 380Nm between 1,750rpm and 2,500rpm – which makes it a strong candidate for towing.
On the road, it is more settled and less easily disturbed by poor surfaces than the earlier Outlander and the steering, which has been tweaked for European tastes, weights up nicely around bends and passes more information back to the helm.
The whole package feels taut without being over-firm. In fact, there’s still a tad too much cornering roll but at least the bumps potholes are smoothed over better.
Families will appreciate the third row of seats, which is unavailable in the PHEV due to the positioning of an electric motor. The two final seats are properly sprung and stow and fold into the floor. The second row has a flip-up cushion and folding backrest allowing a 1.7-metre long floor for loading long objects.
Altogether, with the back two rows of seats folded it can swallow up 1,608litres of cargo.
There are four trim levels with prices starting at £24,799 to £31,499. The Outlander is supported by a five year/62,500-mile warranty.
The diesel is expected to be outsold four-to-one by the tax-efficient PHEV in Britain, but the new version is a vastly improved model for those who need a seven-seater or need a tow car.
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