Mitsubishi Outlander 2018 launched at Rs 31.95 lakh. Here is the First Drive Review

I have never driven a Mitsubishi car before. To be honest, I have heard quite a lot about the capability of their SUVs off the road. Time for me then to experience one! The all-new 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander. To give you a bit of history, the Mitsubishi Outlander was  launched in India sometime in 2008. Sales gained momentum initially as the Outlander was a worthy alternative to the Honda CR-V. However, it later lost out to newly launched diesel SUVs. All said and done, the company discontinued the Outlander in 2012. The Outlander you see on these pages was launched internationally in 2016. It was supposed to have come here in 2017 but given the lack of good response towards petrol SUVs in India, the company waited it out. It comes in via the CBU route. `So here is my first drive experience of the  Outlander, the company’s first new product in six years.

Design

Mitsubishi Outlander 2018

The face of the Outlander is in sync with the new crossover SUVs a la Toyota Fortuner or Honda CR-V. It has two thick  chrome bars for the grille. A separate line from the outer edge of the headlights crosses over to the air dam and engulfs the fog lights. Speaking of which, there are daytime running LEDs inside the part-LED headlamp cluster. There is also a skid plate done in tasteful brushed aluminium in the front. We like the face of the car. The side profile reveals 16-inch alloys. Mitsubishi apparently has been receiving a bit of flak because of the smaller sized tyres. Customers are asking if they can upsize, however the company officials don’t have an answer to this yet. You will notice that this new Mitsubishi Outlander is longer than the one it replaces. At the back, the LED lights look nice and extend all the way up to the C-pillar quarter glass. The reverse lights (two of them) are placed on the lower part of the bumper.

Interior

Mitsubishi Outlander 2018

It is all-black in here but tastefully done. The plastics on the upper part though feel grainy to touch. The steering wheel is a nice chunky unit and houses the controls for the audio, cruise control as well as Bluetooth telephony. There are also nicely done brushed aluminium paddle shifters behind the wheel. The instrument cluster is a simple rev counter as well as speedometer flanking the MID set up. The MID will tell you the range, odo as well as trip details as well as fuel efficiency. It also notifies you if the 4WD lock is engaged or not. There is some amount of piano black used for the music system as well as around the transmission lever housing. The music system is a 6.1-inch Rockford Fosgate unit that houses a sub-woofer in the boot. We like the way it enhances the bass but is no patch on the Harman unit used on the much more affordable Tata Hexa. It also doesn’t get navigation or Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Mitsubishi says that the satellite navigation will be dialled in at a later date. In terms of features, there is dual zone climate control, electrically operated sunroof, powered driver’s seat, auto headlights and wipers. A first for this segment is the heated front seats though its significance for our weather is debatable. Perhaps use it on the excursions to Ladakh?

The front as well as rear seats are comfortable. The middle row backrest especially can be adjusted in three ways and the row slides too. However, since one is seated a bit higher than the passenger at the front, headroom for taller folks seems a tad compromised.  The last row is best for children as grown-ups will have to sit with their knees close to the chest. The boot space is okay-ish with all the seats up, however with the rear and middle row of seats folding flat onto the floor, once can carry more luggage.

Build quality looks very good and we are being told that its rare for a Mitsubishi to come to the workshop for fixing cabin rattles. This being said, we miss the second row AC vents. Given that the cabin is all black, it might be an issue during our searing summer climate.

Engine and transmission

Mitsubishi has used a lone engine option in the Outlander. This is the familiar 2.4-litre 4-cylinder naturally aspirated petrol Mivec unit. It makes 166PS of power and 222Nm of torque. At idle, it sounds refined and thankfully stays the same even at higher speeds. However, from outside the car, you do know that the engine is running. A CVT is used to transfer power to the front wheels. The car moves ahead smartly even on part throttle and this is a nice thing. While it might look big from the outside, the way it moves belies its size. You never feel the lack of grunt but for one situation and I will elaborate on that later.

The gearshifts are smooth enough but a tad slow while upshifting or downshifting. We had the SUV with us for a short period and hence checking the efficiency was not possible. However, the MID shows that the Mitsubishi Outlander was giving around 8.5kmpl.

Ride and handling

Remember the small 16-inch wheels that we were talking about earlier. Or rather complaining? These come with 215/70 R16 rubber. The side walls are thick enough and they take care of the rutted roads that we were driving the Outlander. All the bumps were taken care of nicely and the all-independent suspension took all this abuse in its stride silently. While the Ford Endeavour is a bit more nicer in absorbing bumps, it is built on a ladder frame chassis while the Outlander is a monocoque. The latter is how all modern day cars are designed whereas the former is the basis for rugged pick up vehicles.

An SUV this tall and with 190mm of ground clearance means body roll. However, the Mitsubishi Outlander will surprise you with its handling. It actually brought about a smile to my face on how well and swiftly it can change directions. The steering wheel is light enough for use in city and weighs up once you go on the highway. The whole car shrinks itself around the driver and that’s a good thing. To put the last term into context, the Outlander will be similar to handle like an EcoSport or Brezza in traffic. You can see the front corners of the SUV as well as what’s coming from behind too, without hindrances. An additional benefit is the slim A-pillars.

Off the beaten path, the Outlander shows great poise. On paper, the ground clearance may seem low but it is useful for tackling difficult terrain easily. You can see this in our video review. The Outlander is also great fun to slide around in the muck. You don’t feel the heft of the vehicle there at all. However, powering out from a slide exposes the lack of punch in the bottom. In the middle of a slide, if there is more mud which has accumulated near the front wheels, then the vehicle will need a bit more of throttle input to get moving.

Safety

Mitsubishi has specced the Outlander very nicely. It gets seven airbags, ABS with EBD, traction control, hill assist, stability control, reverse camera and rear parking sensors. There is also the auto hold as well as electronic parking brake. The auto hold has its own party trick. If you’re one of those who don’t like wearing seat belts, then you cannot engage the function. The car will remind you to first buckle up and then use the function. A nice way of telling folks to use the seatbelt while driving the car!

Verdict on the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander

The 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander then is available for Rs 31.54 lakh, ex-showroom Mumbai. There  are around 50 dealers in the country today with more being added as we write this. The Outlander is a great everyday car which will be quite handy in bad or broken road. There are two flies in the ointment. One is the high sticker price and second is the lack of a diesel option. Mitsubishi owners aren’t perturbed by the lack of aftersales support as parts are known to be quite durable. The parts are also available freely in the market. Mitsubishi says that so far they have delivered 15 vehicles in Mumbai and enquiries have been coming in too.

If you are looking for a Fortuner petrol rival, then this one it  is. It is more refined than the Toyota and is equally adept off-road too. Mitsubishi plans to go into local assembly soon. This will reduce the prices significantly, we hope. There are also plans of bringing in the new Pajero by April 2019. This will also come in via the CBU route and will be priced at around Rs 40 lakh. It will be a true rival to the Ford Endeavour and Toyota Fortuner.

What we love about the new Mitsubishi Outlander

Presence, comfortable ride quality and interesting handling

What we don’t like about the new Mitsubishi Outlander

High price, lack of more creature comforts, no diesel engine option

 

Trivia

Mitsubishi says that they are studying the Indian market. There are plans to do local assembly, however the Hindusthan Motors plant is now being shared by Peugeot and other component maker. The numbers will justify CKD operations and hence the wait.

 

Images by Donald D’souza Photography

 

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