Overall rating: 3/5
Lighter, more economical and huge inside - yet no bigger outside - the new Mitsubishi Outlander offers compact MPV-like versatility, but it has lost the sharp, distinctive style of its predecessor.
In the metal 3/5
All new - and taking up no more road space than its predecessor the 2012 Mitsubishi Outlander packs a less convincing visual punch than its sharp predecessor. It's rather forgettable looking, and the slab sides do make it look under-wheeled - even though it rides on 18-inch alloys. What you lose in looks though you gain in space and practicality. The Outlander is vast inside, though both five- and seven-seat versions will continue to be offered in Ireland.
Fold all the seats flat and it's van-like and with all of them in place it's compact MPV in its usefulness. The middle seats slide and fold, giving good access to the rear pair - which, when in use, leave a surprisingly sizeable boot. So it's spacious and quality has increased too, the materials inside all improved.
Driving it 3/5
Although the Outlander's structure has been designed from scratch to accept a plug-in hybrid drive it's diesel powered for the moment. A development of Mitsubishi's 2.2-litre DiD turbodiesel specifically, with 150hp and 380Nm of torque. It's an unusually rev-happy diesel engine, smoother and less vocal now too thanks to NVH (Noise, Vibration and Harshness) enhancements including thicker windscreen glass and improved engine mounts. The engine is mated to a six-speed manual transmission - though an automatic is offered too. Irish buyers are offered front- or four-wheel drive variants.
It's all very surefooted and secure, though the suspension's clear comfort bias does mean the Outlander is a bit roly-poly through the bends - it no RAV4 for driving sharpness. Take it a bit more sedately though and despite sometimes being unsettled by rougher surfaces it's all reasonably composed and controlled. The steering is light on weight and feel, while the six-speed manual shifts with pleasing accuracy. All very competent.
What you get for your money 4/5
Tricky to say with any conviction as Mitsubishi has yet to confirm pricing, though it is hoping to equal or better the current prices, which start at €36,544 and rise to €41,673. The entry-level five-seat version puts power to the front wheels only and sits in Band B with emissions of 130g/km. Using the same manual gearbox, the seven-seat, four-wheel drive model jumps up into Band C for tax, while the all-singing, all-dancing automatic version emits 159g/km for Band D. There's just one specification level as such, including 18-inch alloys, cruise control, Bluetooth, dual-zone climate control, reversing camera, heated electrically folding door mirrors, front fog lights and keyless entry.
Mitsubishi is making big noises about how economical the new Outlander is. Thank Mitsubishi's Outlander diet for that, this new car around 100kg lighter than before, while low rolling resistance tyres, a low drag figure, electric power steering and a stop-start system also help the Outlander do its bit for the planet. That'll be enhanced in 2013 with the arrival of a plug-in hybrid model, boasting an 800km range and emissions as low as 50g/km - we assume it'll be diesel-electric.
Seven useable seats in a relatively small footprint (above the entry-level version), decent economy and improved quality all appeal with Mitsubishi's new Outlander, though we'll need to wait until it's priced to really see just how competitive it'll be against its rivals. Not remarkable to drive, but a credible and practical family machine regardless - shame it doesn't look a bit more dramatic.