Mitsubishi Outlander

2.2 DI-D GX4 Auto

Mitsubishi Outlander, front
Mitsubishi Outlander, front
Mitsubishi Outlander, rear
Mitsubishi Outlander, front
Mitsubishi Outlander, side
Mitsubishi Outlander, interior
Mitsubishi Outlander, rear seats
Mitsubishi Outlander, engine
Mitsubishi Outlander, boot
Mitsubishi Outlander, boot

MITSUBISHI are in buoyant mood after it was revealed that the company was the UK's fastest growing mainstream motoring brand in 2015.

According to year-end sales results released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, the marque saw sales growth in passenger cars of 44 per cent compared to the previous year - making it third straight year that the Japanese manufacturer topped the mainstream charts after a rise of 38 per cent in 2013 followed by a whopping jump of 75 per cent in 2014.

High-profile promotion campaigns and a growing dealer network have undoubtedly helped, but much of the success can be attributed to the impact of the innovative Outlander Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV).

The range-extending capabilities of the hybrid technology have seen it transform the plug-in market, which it leads with a significant share of 41% despite only launching in 2013.

Nevertheless plug-in motoring is still far from being to everyone's taste and the Outlander still has plenty to offer with good old diesel power - especially after a significant facelift for 2016.

It may only be two years since the third generation of this accomplished 4x4 was launched - but such is the competition these days in the SUV class that Mitsubishi have given their flagship a comprehensive overhaul, particularly in the looks department.

The front end has undergone the most drastic surgery, with more angular lines emphasising new-look LED headlamps, daytime running lights, a new grille and new bumper.

Elsewhere, the 18-inch alloys on high-spec models have a fresh design, the tail-lights and tailgate trim have been re-worked while extra detailing has been added along the flanks.

All of which lends the new Outlander a more imposing presence and up-to-date feel, in-line with key rivals such as the closely related Kia Sorento and Hyundai Santa Fe.

Sound-proofing has also been enhanced, which means that the single 2.2-litre diesel power pack available is pretty hushed except when under sharp acceleration.

And although no match for the PHEV in the economy stakes it stacks up competitively against traditionally-powered rivals.

Paired with the surprisingly smooth and unobtrusive six-speed automatic transmission in my test car it offers 48 miles per gallon on average, which is pretty good for a chunky, seven-seat SUV - and the figures improve if you're happy with a manual gearbox.

There's plenty of pull available across a broad rev range and the Outlander proves a relaxed cruiser - but is equally polite in town where the light steering makes manoeuvring straightforward.

As you'd expect with Mitsubishi's renowned four-wheel drive knowhow grip is never less than assured and the 4x4 system on the Outlander offers great versatility.

The driver can toggle between three modes at the flick of a switch. Eco powers just the front wheels unless the car senses more traction is needed; auto is ideal for winter weather and off roading; and lock offers high levels of traction for really challenging terrain.

Interior changes are not as dramatic as those on the outside and aimed at improving the perceived quality of the spacious cabin but the steering wheel has been revised and stylish contrast stitching added to the upholstery and instrument binnacle.

An upgraded navigation and infotainment system is included in the range-topping GX4 model I drove, heading a generous list of comfort and safety features.

There's comfortable room for five while all but entry level models get two flip up seats in the boot, which are great for the kids but also tolerable for adults on shorter trips.

With these down the boot is an impressive size and easily accessed via the automatic tailgate while the split rear seats also fold down to create more load space.

FAST FACTS

Mitsubishi Outlander 2.2 DI-D GX4 Auto

Price: £32,899

Mechanical:147bhp, 2,268cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via 6-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 118mph

0-62mph: 11.6 seconds

Combined MPG: 48.7

Insurance Group: 27

C02 emissions: 153g/km

Bik rating: 28%

Warranty: 5yrs/62,500 miles

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