Mitsubishi is not renowned for rolling out all-new models all that often, but its new Outlander, which is based on the new Nissan X-Trail's platform, is a boldly styled 7-seater with an upmarket interior. Could this family-car eventually bolster the Japanese brand's prospects in the local midsized-SUV market?
The 4th-generation Outlander was unveiled on Amazon Live (it is claimed to be the first car to be launched on the streaming platform) and, by virtue of being based on the next-generation X-Trail, the newcomer is the first Mitsubishi model to be produced under the banner of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance. Mitsubishi, however, says it’s “based on the ‘I-Fu-Do-Do’ concept, which means authentic and majestic in Japanese…
The 4th-generation Outlander will be available exclusively with a naturally-aspirated 2.5-litre 4-cylinder engine.
In true Mitsubishi tradition, the Outlander’s exterior design is dominated by the Dynamic Shield motif, with the combination of high-positioned DRLs that serve as the “eyes” of the front visage, while the main LED headlamps (with washers, we note) are positioned lower on the bumper... in fact, they're just above the fog lamps! To balance out the bulky sheet metal of the people-mover, um, SUV, Mitsubishi has fitted the Outlander that's featured in the press material with eye-catching 20-inch alloys that complement the lashings of exterior brightwork.
Ostensibly taking a leaf from the Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace’s book, the newcomer is a rarity in the family-car segment – it has a 7-seater configuration, replete with a 40/20/40 split-folding middle bench that can slide and recline, as well as a pair of rear seats that split 50/50, the latter of which is suitable for children.
Top-spec Outlander derivatives will feature a panoramic sunroof and bold 20-inch alloy wheels.
Compared with its predecessor, the Mitsubishi is 50.8 mm wider and has a slightly longer wheelbase (which has increased by 36 mm to 2 705 mm). Those gains (in conjunction with better interior packaging) see the legroom for front occupants increase by 25 mm, while those in the 2nd row are afforded an extra 27.9 mm. The length of the luggage area when the 2nd- and 3rd-row seats are folded down has been increased to a just over 2 metres in total, which represents a significant improvement over that of the previous model.
As for the new Outlander’s mechanical configuration, it not only shares a MacPherson front- and multi-link rear suspension setup and electric power steering with the next X-Trail, but also its 2.5-litre naturally aspirated 4-cylinder engine, which is paired with an 8-step continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). A large-capacity 4-pot seems a bit passé in the age of engine downsizing, but with peak outputs of 135 kW and 245 Nm, it is at least more powerful than the current model’s 123 kW/222 Nm 2.4-litre motor and will help to bring the landed unit cost down.
Note the attractive diamond quilting of the leather/faux leather surfaces and tasteful metallic detailing.
The newcomer will be offered in both front- and all-wheel-drive configurations and all derivatives feature at least 5 drive modes (Normal, Tarmac, Gravel, Snow and Mud), while AWD versions, equipped with the Japanese marque’s Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC) all-wheel-drive system, get an additional drive mode.
The interior is suitably smart, with a tasteful mix of premium materials, myriad soft-touch surfaces and digital displays. While more affordable versions of the Outlander will have a 7.0-inch multifunction display, the top-spec versions will be equipped with a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster as well as a full-colour head-up display!
Contrast stitching, weave-pattern metallic- and piano black inserts feature on the sportier derivatives.
As for the infotainment system, it has a 9-inch touchscreen interface that is compatible with Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay and can be specified in conjunction with a 10-speaker Bose audio system. The stubby transmission lever is evidently shift-by-wire, while the climate control console knobs and drive-move selector have matching (and very ornate) knurled-metal-look finishes.
To aid connectivity, Mitsubishi has availed a wireless charging pad, as well as USB A and USB C ports. Seat heaters (front and rear), 3-zone automatic climate control and rear door sunshades are said to be available too, depending on spec.
The middle row splits in a 40/20/40 configuration.
On the safety front, the Japanese firm has fitted the usual array of active and passive safety systems to its newcomer, plus 11 airbags (including a front centre ‘bag). Adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality, lane-keep assist, nav-linked speed-sign recognition and autonomous emergency braking are also featured.
As for local availability, that has yet to be confirmed. The Outlander is scheduled to be introduced in North America in April, with the rest of the world to follow during the rest of 2021. The newcomer (and its distant cousin, the next-generation X-Trail, for that matter) were not scheduled to arrive in Mzansi as soon as this year, but that could change. We'll keep you posted...