Mitsubishi's soft-roader takes a big leap forward in both material quality and specification but, although it's decent enough dynamically, it needs a better diesel engine

What’s new?

The latest Outlander is handsome by the standards of mid-sized soft-roaders, although it’s a struggle to find any clear area of originality in its mostly derivative styling, the rear three-quarters looking very Lexus RX-like.

Britain's appetite for tough-looking Mitsus means that our top-spec Warrior and Elegance versions will have more chrome than the car you see here, and also a bull-bar.

The cabin is spacious and well finished – massively better than the cheap-feeling interior of the outgoing Outlander.

There's plenty of space for front- and rear-seat passengers, and both Warrior and Elegance come with fold-flat third-row seating – a flimsy extra pew that can be magicked from the boot floor. Though impressive on paper, it's far from a proper seven-seater; the third row is cramped and uncomfortable even by the limited standards of such things.

The top-spec Elegance boasts a very neat combined touch-screen sat-nav and music system. The nav’s fonts are a tad garish, but the audio gubbins actually rips CDs as they are played and stores their labelled tracks as MP3 files on the car's 30Gb hard drive. A great idea, it seems to work well in practice. 

What’s it like?

Like the Grandis MPV and forthcoming Lancer saloon, the Outlander uses VW's 2.0-litre 138bhp diesel to reasonable effect, with a claimed 10.8sec 0-62mph and 116mph top speed.

It’s unfortunate, therefore, that the new motor is so noisy in its new home: loud under acceleration and still too noticeable at cruising speed. Performance is respectable, although poor low-down urge means that progress has to be stirred up via rather too much recourse to the slightly notchy six-speed gearchange.

No automatic diesel option is planned, although a 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol/auto combo will come late next year. Better news is that, providing PSA and Mitsubishi ink the final deal, the excellent 156bhp 2.2-litre Pug diesel that powers the Freelander will also be offered from late next year.

The rest of the Outlander’s dynamic experience is painless enough. It sticks well to a chosen cornering line and, even though the steering isn't exactly bristling with feedback, the front end responds to instruction with respectable alacrity.

It was hard to assess ride quality properly on the ultra-smooth Spanish tarmac of our test route, but half a mile of gravel track suggests good compliance and body control. The part time four-wheel drive, engaged by a rotary control next to the gearshift, is also more than up to coping with the occasional muddy car park. 

Should I buy one?

There's plenty about this new Outlander to like, and its strong combination of price and performance should help keep the rest of the segment honest.

But it will take a better engine to turn the Outlander into the car it should be.

Mike Duff

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