The 2014 Mit­subishi Out­lander han­dles well on and off-road.

Friday - - Contents - says wheels’ Imran Ma­lik

Not this time. The third-gen­er­a­tion-Mit­subishi Out­lander is one of the best CUVs on the mar­ket and a ca­pa­ble off-roader,

Ev­ery­one loves an un­der­dog. You want to see the lit­tle guy get one over on the champ, even if, ul­ti­mately, he’ll be de­feated. Well, the 2014 Out­lander finds it­self in a sim­i­lar predica­ment. It’s in a seg­ment lit­tered with sea­soned heavy­weights such as the Ex­plorer, RAV4, CR-V and Santa Fe and prob­a­bly finds it­self low down in the peck­ing or­der for those on the look­out for a new CUV and who don’t con­sider any­thing other than the usual sus­pects.

But hav­ing spent a few days with the new third-gen­er­a­tion Mit­subishi, I was com­pletely bowled over by the hand­some four-wheel-drive sev­enseater. Some­times the un­der­dog can land a knockout blow. This is def­i­nitely one of those times.

Re­designed from top to bot­tom, the new 4,655mm-long Out­lander has many things go­ing for it, start­ing with a smartened-up ex­te­rior. Now wear­ing

Go crazy and it is a to­tal hoot when you fancy a bit of light off-road­ing

all-new sheet metal, which has helped it to shed 90kg, it’s far curvier than be­fore and more aero­dy­namic too.

The thin chrome grille is as at­trac­tive as ever, and al­though the fa­mil­ial Evo-in­flu­enced fas­cia is gone, that isn’t a bad thing as the new look works well. The big­gest change is around the back where the split-open­ing lift­gate and tail­gate has been ditched for a onepiece lift­gate.

Over­all, the de­sign em­pha­sis seemed to be on mak­ing the new model blend in bet­ter with the oth­ers in this cut-throat seg­ment. It might be a tad con­ser­va­tive for some, but I’d say it’s one of the bet­ter­look­ing people car­ri­ers out there. The sharp crease that forms the belt­line is a nice touch and, thank­fully, the bul­bous wheel-arch flares are no more, while the abrupt cor­ners of the rear quar­ter win­dows have been soft­ened. Lastly, the 18in al­loys on our test car look pretty neat.

It’s equally im­pres­sive in the over­hauled and stylish cabin. Aside from the fact that there is seat­ing for seven, it also fea­tures soft-touch ma­te­ri­als on the dash, faux wood trim – which ac­tu­ally doesn’t look bad at all – a classy high-gloss, piano-black cen­tre con­sole panel and fine fit and fin­ish.

The leather seats are very com­fort­able and sup­port­ive, and be­cause you sit high up you have a com­mand­ing view of the road be­low. There’s lots of leg- and head­room, while out­ward vis­i­bil­ity is very good too – there are no wor­ry­ing blind spots and, even though the B-pil­lars are quite thick, they don’t seem to block the view over your shoul­ders.

The sec­ond and third rows fold flat to cre­ate a whop­ping 1,784 litres of cargo space and the whizbangery on this GLS trim in­cludes cruise con­trol, dual-zone cli­mate con­trol, key­less en­try, Blue­tooth, re­vers­ing cam­era, and a su­perb touch-based 710-watt Rock­ford Fos­gate sound sys­tem with nine speak­ers and a built-in sub-woofer. It sounds fab­u­lous.

Power comes from a smooth 3.0-litre V6 that is mated to a six-speed au­to­matic with pad­dle shifters on the steer­ing. It pro­duces a de­cent 224bhp at 6,250rpm, comes stan­dard with all-wheel drive and has a tow­ing ca­pac­ity of up to 1,587kg. That’s a lot of gro­cery bags.

Pass­ing power is more than ad­e­quate; it ac­cel­er­ates with pur­pose while en­gine noise is at a pre­mium, thanks to ex­ten­sive use of high-grade sound in­su­la­tion ma­te­rial.

The elec­tri­cally as­sisted rack and pin­ion power steer­ing is nicely weighted and of­fers good feed­back. But the tyres be­gin to screech in the cor­ners when you push it a tad hard. It also doesn’t like cor­ners much, but when you’re driv­ing sen­si­bly it af­fords a re­fined and com­fort­able ride. That said, go crazy and it is a hoot when you fancy a bit of light of­froad­ing; its so­phis­ti­cated all-wheel-drive sys­tem and front strut, rear mul­ti­link sus­pen­sion means it’ll gob­ble up medi­um­sized dunes and rough roads with­out a fuss and re­main to­tally com­posed through­out. Safety fea­tures in­clude an­tilock disc brakes, trac­tion and sta­bil­ity con­trol, hill-start as­sist and seven airbags.

I don’t have any com­plaints about the per­for­mance of the nextgen­er­a­tion Mivec mo­tor (with vari­able valve tim­ing), which sips just 10.2 litres per 100km, and none about its off-road abil­ity. It also wafts along ef­fort­lessly on the high­way. My only gripe is that third row; it is rather cramped. But the kids will en­joy it back there and the fact that the en­tire fam­ily can board this new Out­lander and be driven around in com­fort or ven­ture off the beaten path for a start­ing price of Dh89,000 means this Mit­subishi will be los­ing that un­der­dog tag pretty soon.


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