24 Jan 2014

Mitsubishi Outlander 2.2 DI-D GX4 - First Impressions

I'm running a Mitsubishi Outlander for a week.  It's a third generation model, which weighs 150kg less than the previous Outlander, and costs £29,999 in GX4 trim.

Mitsubishi Outlander 2.2 DI-D GX4

The second generation Outlander was pretty handsome for an SUV.  This, the third gen, is less so.  The body has been smoothed out in order to reduce drag, which Mitsubishi says is the lowest in its class.

It's not ugly though.  The Outlander has a pleasing outline and the 18" wheels fill the arches well.

When I first jumped inside I assumed it had been specced by a doom metal band.  Black plastic is the order of the day.  Being Japanese, Mitsubishi concentrate more on the engineering and reliability side of things rather than tactile surfaces and interior design.

It's not a huge car but it is spacious inside, lots of legroom in the back and an extra row of seats in the boot.  There are lots of cupholders and storage spaces for everyone.

The engine is great.  It's a 2.2 litre turbo diesel unit with 147bhp that's got plenty of vim after the turbo kicks in.  You have to pull away with the engine above 2000rpm to avoid bogging down in no-turbo land.

The gearbox is less great.  The 6-speed manual is light and easy but third gear is infuriatingly difficult to select.  From second you have to let the gear-stick find it's natural place below third and then push it up.  Otherwise you end up trying to bang it in gear a few times.  0-60 takes 10.2 seconds.  With a smoother third gear it'd probably take less.
Mitsubishi Outlander 2.2 DI-D GX4

It'll off-road if need be with locking diffs and decent ground clearance, although it's best to run in two wheel drive mode in order to use less fuel.

It's reasonably economical.  The official figure is 52.3mpg.  I covered 210 miles in one journey, which took in 180 miles of motorway and 30 of country lanes and it averaged 37.5mpg.  Not spectacular but not too bad.

The Outlander has lots of toys such as heated seats, cruise control and automatic headlights and wipers.  It just presents these in a very functional manner without any effort to make the interior seem luxurious beyond some leather trim and aluminium looking strips.

So it's spacious, looks good, has a decent engine and slightly iffy gearbox and does exactly what it should.  Unfortunately the big let-down is the infotainment system.

In theory it'll connect to Bluetooth but this literally took all day to connect to my phone.  Thereafter it connects every time I get in the car.  The cable integration with my iPhone took ages too.  It analyses the phone and then controls what's playing via the on-screen system, which isn't very intuitive.  If you skip a song on the iPhone itself the system just shuts down and won't play anything.  Plus, it takes 3 minutes from starting up the car to playing any music.

On top of that it doesn't have digital radio and the menus and controls are infuriating.  The satnav works well but inputting postcodes requires selecting the road too.  Why, if you have the postcode do you also need to choose a road?  It wouldn't find one particular postcode.  It turned out that because it was in Cardiff I had to deselect England and select Wales.  Integrated TomTom software would be much more user friendly.

The huge surprise is how it handles.  For a reasonably lofty SUV it is very chuckable.  The ride is good too.  In fact the whole chassis set up is superb and one of the best of the mid-sized SUVs I've driven.  Must be all that world rally experience.

I'll report back with a full review later.
Mitsubishi Outlander 2.2 DI-D GX4


Price:  £29,999
Engine: 2.2 litre, 4-cylinder turbocharged, diesel
Transmission:  6-speed manual
0-60 mph:  10.2 seconds
Top speed:  124 mph
Power:  147bhp
Torque:  280
Economy:  52.3mpg
CO2:  140 g/km
Kerb weight:  1590kg
Mitsubishi Outlander 2.2 DI-D GX4

By Matt Hubbard