The Airtrek was displayed by Mitsubishi at the
Bangkok International Motor Show this year. Our Down-under
correspondent John Weinthal, has tested the Oz variant, known as the
Outlander, and has come away with mixed feelings. Here are the Words
“My first day in the Mitsubishi Outlander raised
two questions. One concerned the front styling - we can come back to
that in a moment. The second was rather more important. I wondered
whether we need yet more choices in the increasingly popular light
“The Outlander replaces the effective but
unpopular mini-Pajero - the oddly-named iO.
“Outlander is a latecomer, so we have to ask if
it has the goods to woo buyers from current class standouts like the
Nissan Xtrail, Subaru Forester, Toyota’s youthful RAV4, Honda CRV,
Suzuki Grand Vitara and Hyundai Santa Fe.
“The answer lies partly in the fact that this is
a burgeoning market. Sales continue to rocket ahead at the expense of
the larger four-wheel-drives and conventional station wagons in
“Mitsu’s weapon is a five-seat all wheel-drive
wagon which comes in two specs costing AUD 32,000 and AUD 37,490, plus
the usual dealer and government charges. Both are powered by a 100 kW,
belt-driven, single overhead cam, 2.35 litre four cylinder engine. The
only transmission is Mitsubishi’s excellent four-speed auto with
alternative manual over-ride - Sports Mode in Mitsubishi talk. It is a
first class auto.
“The Outlander weighs more than 1550 kg - or one
and a half tonnes - so I feel that a manual would improve performance
and fuel consumption, while knocking some dollars out of the initial
asking price. But no doubt Mitsu knows its potential market better
than me and they must reckon that auto is today’s customer choice.
“That said, this Outlander gets off the mark and
cruises without hint of its relatively low power and not insubstantial
weight. These numbers are more evident in print than in the driving.
“Outlander has a particularly roomy feel for five
adults. Luggage space is OK and it can be boosted by folding the rear
seats. There are some useful storage spots but the front door pockets
are narrow and oddly shaped - almost useless.
“Standard equipment, even on the AUD 32,000 LS
model, is more than generous. There are power windows and mirrors plus
remote locking of course. There’s air-conditioning, cruise control,
a four-speaker stereo radio with CD player, folding centre rear
armrest with built in cup-holders and intermittent wipers. Anti-lock
brakes with electronic brake force distribution are optional on this
model. They are standard on the XLS, along with such items as a sun
roof, roof rails, six speaker sound system, body coloured door handles
and similar fripperies.
“On road, the Outlander is brisk enough. It has
an unexpectedly quiet and smooth, even soothing, ride. One also soon
appreciates the supportive and multi-adjustable driver’s seat. Even
its thirst was less than one might expect.
“Thus, we come to Outlander’s main
distinguishing feature - apart from the excellent auto with its
change-lever mounted on the fascia which allows squeezy walk-thru from
left to right and further enhances the roomy appearance.
“Frankly, nobody liked the front styling. The
bull nose did not grow on me over a week - I grimaced, but was
inclined to agree, as humorists suggested more apt names might be
Outlandish or Outrageous.
“One can only wonder what the Mitsu Australia
people were on when they chose this US-inspired nose over the handsome
face of the Asian versions which I saw at the Bangkok Motor Show and
in Malaysia recently. They say this will become the new look for all
Mitsubishis - I wonder if there is a rethink going on. One can but
hope so. At least they dropped the name Airtrek with which this
thoroughly competent, well equipped, quiet and comfortable newcomer is
saddled across Asia!
“Sadly, so far we also do not get the high
performance Evo model I saw while abroad -drop-dead handsome with
reported performance and handling to match. Let us hope Mitsu will
look to this one for our future - but, please, stick with the original
Japanese styling. It’s looked terrific on the streets.
“Meantime - does the world need another all-while
drive five-seat, occasional off-roader? If we do then the Outlander is
a more than worthy contender. (Thank you John, Dr. Iain.)