14 FEBRUARY 2011

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Article from BTNews 14 FEBRUARY 2011

MOTORING UPDATE by Ted Wilkinson

Mitsubishi Outlander Juro 2.2 DI-D Automatic

Outlander is Aptly Named

 

My first experience of the Mitsubishi Outlander 4x4 Crossover model was literally a baptism of fire – at an Army tank training range where I had to mix it with the seriously heavy metal.

Fortunately the arrangements for the press launch were very thorough and I did not have to experience any friendly fire!

I did appreciate the ability of this all wheel drive seven-person vehicle to keep active on even challenging terrain, clearly proving that Mitsubishi expertise in developing its highly rated Shogun off-road 4x4 range had been filtered though to the Outlander, a vehicle intended for more general motoring where practicality is prioritised.

What emerges with the Outlander is a hugely competent vehicle with plenty of driving character to keep the discerning driver happy and to make the lot of the busy day-to-day user an easy, take it for granted way of motoring.

The mechanical package involves a selectable drive system allowing two-wheel drive to be employed for most of the time, four-wheel drive coming in at the flick of a switch and on the test model, a slick acting 6-speed twin clutch automatic transmission (a 6-speed manual version is also available) that is backed up by Active Stability, Traction Control and Anti Lock Braking combined with Electronic Brake Distribution – a package designed to ensure optimum driver control even when a crisis might be looming.

What is also evident is that this spacious but hardly cumbersome large hatch back bodied machine has a commendable turn of performance – Mitsubishi claim a top speed of 123mph with 62mph (100kph) reached from rest in a more than passable 11.1 seconds.

Not so evident is a diesel engine under the bonnet – a high efficiency/super refinement 2.2-litre turbo diesel common rail unit developing 115bhp (130bhp with the manual gearbox), the main reason being that it is so quiet and so smooth and also that the fuel consumption, depending on load/use, can nudge around 40mpg.

I would say that user friendly is an understatement.  The Outlander’s driving characteristics, its fully independent suspension system ensures very positive road holding with such sure footed grip, while braking performance is both highly efficient but also smooth in actuation with minimal pedal pressure.  The steering is light, geared about right and with a relative tight turning circle ensures easy about town driving as well as stable and positive handling on the faster roads.

Driver visibility front the loftier than average position, is good apart from a slight blind spot caused by the rear pillars.  Large exterior mirrors and parking sensors compensate to an acceptable degree.

Gone are the days of the workhorse, the Outlander is an executive class car, equipped to a very high level, especially on this special Juro version, with impressive interior styling that includes a ‘good on the eye’ fascia presentation a that is clearly designed for versatility and practicality.

Driver comfort, thanks to a generous sized and well contoured seat that can adjust to suit all types of physique, a fully adjustable steering column and good pedal positioning that should ensure a serious day‘s drive with minimal fatigue.

The 5-seat Outlander is the standard model, the seven seat version is really an adaptation that utilises what is a very generous load area to provide a pair of flat folding seats that are small size and have restricted leg space…ideal for small children that have outgrown a child seat but challenging for adults.

As a five-seater the comfort and space is hard to fault and in that mode it is also a good load carrier, the luggage access reached via a split section tail-gate whereby the rear window hinges independently of the drop down lower section making it an ideal picnic situation. Sturdy roof rails with a ribbed roof panels also feature.

Other notable points on this exceptionally well built product include a paddle shift gear change, automatic lighting, a full size spare wheel located externally under the rear floor, plenty of pockets and stowage areas, all leather trim on this special model and a rear auxiliary power point.

I have encountered a number of compromise contenders in the Crossover category, often termed as soft off-roaders, the aptly named Mitsubishi Outlander is no softie as it has more than proficient off-road credentials allied to a high degree of all-round refinement, plus close to premium grade finish that makes it more than a bit special.

Rivals include: Peugeot 3008, Kia Sportage, Subaru Forester, Honda CRV, Toyota RAV.

STAR RATINGS (out of 10)

Performance 9
Handling 9
Transmission 9
Noise 9
Economy 9
Ride and Comfort 9
Accommodation 9
Styling 9
Brakes 9
Finish 8

TOTAL: 89

Price From: £27,995 on the road.

NOTES FROM TED WILKINSON’S MOTORING DIARY

ALFA ROMEO: Linking up with its support of UK Athletics, Alfa Romeo has announced a limited edition Sprint version of its MiTo hatch back model. Loaded with £1,500 worth of extras, including cruise control, body customising and Blue Tooth system, the price starts at £13,295 for the 1.4-litre 15-valve 95bhp version. www.alfaromeo.co.uk

AUDI: Europe’s best selling premium brand car range saw UK sales for 2010 hit 99,828 – 9.5% up on the previous year.  World sales hit 1,092,400. www.audi.co.uk

LEXUS: A special winter version of the Lexus RX450h SEI hybrid model has been launched.  Features include roof rails, front and rear under runs, rear bumper protection, a cool/hot storage box and a boot liner.  Value of items is quoted £1,500 but offered at £499.  Total price is £48,899. www.lexus.co.uk

MAZDA: The iconic Mazda MX 5 sports car is set to make history by posting over 900,000 sales, since launch 21 years and 10 months ago.  10% of world wide sales are taken up by UK buyers.  Mazda will be claiming an entry in the Guinness Book of Records. www.mazda.co.uk

PEUGEOT: Two additional versions of the Peugeot 3008 Crossover model have been released – SR and ENVY, both based on the Sport model.  The SR adds colour satellite navigation and Blue Tooth.  Grip control, 16 inch allow wheels with mud and snow tyres, the EBVY dark tinted rear windows, external styling pack with brushed alloy trim, head-up display and a panoramic glass roof.

RENAULT has introduced a competitor in the coupe convertible market just before the spring buying season for the open-tops comes around.  The Megane Coupe’ Cabriolet comes in diesel and petrol versions and will compete with the Peugeot 308cc and, also new, VW’s latest, and very expensive, Eos. www.renault.co.uk

VAUXHALL: The Luton-based car company claimed the top UK sales spot in December with sales of 15,548 cars – 2,600 ahead of its nearest rival.  Astra proved the top UK seller with the Corsa close behind. www.vauxhall.co.uk

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