NEW Mitsubishi Outlander

Mitsubishi Outlander lr

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By Tim Saunders

It is interesting to see how technology falls down through the ranks. When I road tested the Rolls Royce Ghost a few years ago it shared a unique piece of technology with Volvo. That was intelligent cruise control that kept the vehicle at a safe distance from the car in front, automatically braking and accelerating as required. Over time more and more manufacturers have included this bit of kit in their models. The latest one is Mitsubishi with its Outlander. The 2.2-litre diesel that I test uses this to great effect when we are on the motorway to London. I find the cruise control on this 4x4 one of the easiest to operate and the automatic gearbox with manual mode adds to making my life easier on what can be a rather dull commute to the city. It is also good to see the traditional handbrake, which I do prefer over the new fancy electric ones because it gives more control to the driver. As we go on a Sunday we do not need to worry about the congestion charge and it is a great opportunity for Caroline and her parents to visit Uncle Harry who lives in St Johns Wood, my favourite part of London because it is so homely and welcoming. The Outlander incorporates two seats (which form a third row) that neatly fold into the boot when not required. These are fine for our two little daughters Harriett (4) and Heidi (2) and easily accommodate their child seats. Space is a bit tight for the adult fitting the children in their seats and after a bit of contortion they are able to jump down from the vehicle. When these are in use boot space is minimal but there is still room for a few bags, which is useful.
“It’s a comfortable ride,” says Lin, Caroline’s mum. “There’s plenty of leg space in the middle and more than in other similar vehicles.” I tend to agree and the seats are pretty supportive, too.
When we overtake other 4x4s it becomes clear that the Outlander is not as high off the ground as a Land Rover Discovery, for instance. I’m not complaining about this because sometimes 4x4s can feel too high, which can make some passengers feel uneasy. The ride height is just right for us and because the driver’s seat is electrically adjustable and heated, combined with the fact that the steering column moves forward, back and up and down, this ensures that a fairly perfect driving position can be achieved. It is easy for the driver to rest an arm on the side of the door while driving and if it was better padded this would be more comfortable. It’s not a good habit to get into though and I should stick to the 10 to 2 position on the steering wheel. But long journeys can affect driving habits. When accelerating there is a bit too much of a rattle from the diesel unit for my liking but it is responsive and seems to be pretty efficient, travelling 100 miles or so on one bar of fuel. The test model is finished in black with blacked out rear windows, giving it oodles of street-cred. I also like the distinctive alloy wheels. In my opinion the side profile is its best angle while the front just doesn’t gel for me. I think I’d prefer a bit of a chrome grille or something just to break up the bonnet from the bumper.
A neat touch, shared with other luxury vehicles like Range Rover and Rolls Royce, is the electrically operated boot, which shuts itself. This is all very well but I find it takes too long, especially when it is raining hard. You just want to be able to shut the boot quickly and make a dash for it.
Unfortunately, the Outlander is home to another disappointing satellite navigation system that does not recognise the village of Tadley in Hampshire. Not a problem if you don’t need to visit but if you do, like us, we have to stop and ask a local. We usually always leave home with a map but I thought we could rely on this system. “Does it have a Points of Interest function?” he asks. I search and find that it does. “Put the Queens College Arms in and it should know that.” Thank goodness it does and so we get to our destination. You don’t expect to have to stop to ask when you have a sat nav.
There’s also an electric tilt/slide glass sunroof, which is good to see because not everyone wants to rely on the air conditioning.

Facts at a glance

2004 onwards
Outlander 2.2 DI-D GX4s Automatic Diesel

New price: £33,999

Engine: 2.2 diesel
Top speed: 124
0-60mph: 11.7secs
Power: 148bhp
Economy: 50mpg

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