The se­cret’s Out

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Road Test -

reac­quainted with the ex­pe­ri­ence new-car buy­ers go through ev­ery week­end, which can be un­nec­es­sar­ily har­row­ing and time-con­sum­ing.

For the record, our mid­week jaunt to a car­yard fore­court was rel­a­tively has­sle­free, with the sales­man demon­strat­ing good knowl­edge and only one se­ri­ous faux pas, wrongly claim­ing metal­lic paint on a ri­val was $1200 (it was $400).

First, the ba­sics. It’s an all­new model (so why does it have a sad face?) but it sits on the pre­vi­ous car’s un­der­pin­nings. The width and wheel­base are iden­ti­cal; the rear bumper is 5mm shorter than be­fore.

Prices start at $28,990 for a base 2.0-litre petrol man­ual front-wheel-drive model.

But that rises quickly. Fit­ted with au­to­matic trans­mis­sion (which most peo­ple buy), the front-driver is $31,240 plus on­road costs. Most Out­lander mod­els are priced be­tween $35,000 and $46,000.

This makes the start­ing price dearer than that of the highly re­garded Mazda CX-5, which is $29,880 with au­to­matic trans­mis­sion and gets a rear cam­era as stan­dard (the new base Mit­subishi does not).

The Out­lander doesn’t even get rear sen­sors at this money. Cue the first ‘‘ tut-tut’’. The dearer Out­lander mod­els, how­ever, come with a rear cam­era as well as sen­sors.

The split tail­gate of the pre­vi­ous Out­lander that many buy­ers love (be­cause they can use it as a makeshift pic­nic bench, nappy change ta­ble or some­where to crook your leg while you wrig­gle into your run­ning shoes) is no more.

And the load­ing lip at the rear is higher than be­fore, so there’s a lit­tle more heavy lift­ing to do.

The sec­ond-row seat no longer stows and folds el­e­gantly and au­to­mat­i­cally at the tug of one tag. The new de­sign is a more man­ual ar­range­ment; you first must stow the lower cush­ion, then drop the back­rest.

The ad­van­tage of this de­sign is that you get about 30cm of ex­tra cargo space and a per­fectly flat floor. On fiveseater mod­els, the cargo area has hid­den un­der­floor stor­age space; on seven-seater mod­els there is a flat load space when the third-row pews are stowed.

The chilled stor­age area above the glove­box is also gone.

De­spite these is­sues, first im­pres­sions of the in­te­rior are good, with bet­ter qual­ity ma­te­ri­als than be­fore— the dash is made en­tirely of soft­touch pad­ding. The lay­out is cleaner and less fussy. There are two 12V charge points, a USB socket and Blue­tooth with mu­sic stream­ing.

There’s plenty of odd­ment stor­age front and rear, in­clud­ing six cup hold­ers in five-seat va­ri­eties (eight in the seven-seaters).

In a wel­come change, the steer­ing wheel now has reach as well as height ad­just­ment. The glass area is smaller on the new model but vi­sion is good all around, aided in part by the con­vex side mir­rors.

Time to hit the road. It may be the prover­bial lap around the block but we end up adding 5.8km to the demon­stra­tor model’s odome­ter.

The $38,990 (plus $495 for metal­lic paint) 2.4-litre part­time all-wheel-drive model with CVT auto and seven seats feels peppy de­spite the sharp in­cline.

It rides on rel­a­tively small 16-inch wheels but the tyres do a good job of soak­ing up the worst of the road sur­faces and the Out­lander is sig­nif­i­cantly qui­eter and smoother than the out­go­ing model.

The most im­pres­sive as­pect for me, though, is the steer­ing: light, pre­cise and di­rect, a high­light of the car.

First im­pres­sions of the new Out­lander are gen­er­ally pos­i­tive yet there are some as­pects that own­ers of the ex­ist­ing model will miss— the lack of a cam­era as stan­dard on the base model is an alarm­ing omis­sion on an all­new car. Es­pe­cially when the Mazda and Honda ri­vals have it.

Mean­while, faced with the choice be­tween a runout Out­lander at $10,000 off the RRP or a new one, I’min­clined to go with the old model. Prob­lem is, they’re al­most all sold out.

At least the new one is much more fuel ef­fi­cient. Mit­subishi now just needs to ei­ther sharpen the price, add a rear cam­era or both. Stand by for a more ex­ten­sive re­view af­ter more time be­hind the wheel.

This re­porter isonTwit­ter

@JoshuaDowl­ing

130,000km 7 airbags

2.0-litre and 2.4-litre petrol, 2.2-litre diesel

5-speed man­ual, 6-speed CVT

6.6L/100km (2.0), 7.5L (2.4), 5.8 (2.2)

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