New York Auto Show visitors got an early-April opportunity to take a peep at the latest version of Mitsubishi’s popular Outlander SUV, months before it appears on US highways.
A world away in New Zealand, motoring writers are already behind the wheel, drive-testing the new model on paddocks and rural roads before it hits showrooms in late April.
Tongue firmly in cheek, sales and marketing head Daniel Cook opines that being among the first countries to get the new Outlander could be related to a 2014 sales performance that underscored Mitsubishi as New Zealand’s fastest-growing mainstream brand.
“Seriously, we’re just counting our lucky stars we can quickly bring the new model’s host of benefits to what we believe will be a very receptive audience”.
The consistently popular five/seven seat Outlander sits in New Zealand’s largest vehicle segment. Over 10,000 Outlanders have taken to our roads since the model first appeared here in 2006: testament, Daniel Cook says, to the huge reputation the model’s earned for its “compelling” value.
The 2016 Outlander, redesigned and re-engineered from nose to tail, is the first Mitsubishi production vehicle to bear the striking new ‘dynamic shield’ fascia - reminiscent of Pajero’s powerful stance - that signals future models’ design direction.
The look has changed significantly, and so has the drive.
Mitsubishi claims it has made big strides with unprecedented multiple design and engineering improvements to suspension, handling, body rigidity, steering feel and performance.
“The move to more rigid suspension and a stiffer body is a big factor”, says Daniel Cook. “Larger-diameter rear dampers allow precise tuning for exceptional straight line stability and high levels of ride comfort. That’s complemented by better response from the recalibrated electronic power steering and the switch to sportier - yet much quieter - Goodyear Eagle tyres that cope even more effectively with our coarse-chip roads”.
The revised generation-8 continuously-variable transmission (CVT) system delivers improved acceleration, from a standing start right across the rev range, for safer overtaking performance. Transmission shift quality, kick-down feel and downshift response are all improved.
The result, says Daniel Cook, is “a superbly composed ride that will surprise even the most committed Outlander enthusiast”.
Meanwhile, he adds, NVH enhancements have hit a new peak and intrusive noise has fallen to a new low. Back seat drivers will be heard with more clarity than ever before.
Engine noise, cabin boom, road and wind noise are all reduced in a variety of ways: modified engine air intake systems, thicker, noise-isolating windscreen glass borrowed from the ultra-quiet Outlander PHEV, improved weather stripping, the new Goodyear tyres, damper tuning and modified suspension mounts, plus further sound insulation and isolation-damping materials throughout.
In the petrol 4WD models the new CVT transmission not only adds driving enjoyment, it is more efficient, contributing to 4% better fuel economy, now 7.2 l/100km.
The 2016 Outlanders get stylish daytime LED running lights, new LED tail light design and a rear fog lamp on the driver’s side: XLS/VRX models now sport high-efficiency LED headlamps and black, machine-finished 18” alloys. Step inside and there’s a fresh new design and yet more refinement, with extra front seat comfort from the use of dual-stage foam and improved bolstering and lateral support. LS and XLS models have sharp new trim.
Like all Mitsubishi vehicles, Outlander’s built to conform with the brand’s ‘reinforced impact safety evolution’ (RISE) body structure design. All models have seven airbags and a full complement of active safety aids, such as traction control and active stability control, hill start assist, reversing camera, reverse warning sensors, ABS with electronic brake distribution, and emergency stop signal.
VRX models have adaptive cruise control and forward collision mitigation.
“The 2016 Outlander builds on what is already a well-rounded, well-equipped package, with great SUV functionality, terrific fuel economy and low running costs”, said Daniel Cook. “The changes we’ve made are much more than skin deep. The 2016 Outlander looks, drives and feels like an entirely new vehicle, with even more compelling value”.
As with every new Mitsubishi, Outlander’s reliability is underpinned by the brand’s unmatched 10 year Diamond Advantage Warranty. Servicing is required at intervals of 15,000km or 12 months, whichever occurs first.