Take Mitsubishi’s favourite 4X4 off road or up a mountain? … Don’t be Outlandish

By Philip Hedderman

I’ve always wanted to be a cowboy.

Not the dodgy builder/handyman type and certainly not the Brokeback Mountain variety.

No, a proper, no nonsense, quickest on the draw, kick your ass in a saloon bar brawl kinda guy.

There’s not a 40-year-old man out there who hasn’t lived that dream as an eight-year-old.

That dream revisited me last week in a black Stenston hat, packin’ two six shooters … and it went by the name Outlander.

Now, if certain cars make you feel a certain way then this 4X4 cons the subconscious into believing you’re a latter day John Wayne.

When you climb on board all you want to do is head for the wide blue yonder where adventure awaits you.

Even the simplest of journeys becomes a life or death situation with danger lurking in every cavern.

But fear not, like the Duke’s trusty Winchester rifle, the Outander is tougher than anything out there – even them pesky indians.

So we packed the saddlebags and headed off to one of the most beautiful and inhospitable places in ireland – the Mourne mountains in the Co Down village of Rostrevor.

If ever there was a place to put an all-wheel drive through its paces then it’s up the side of the lush green cliff known locally as the final asscent to Cloughmore Stone.

Legend has it that giant Fionn MacCumhaill fired a stone from the Cooley mountains across Carlingford Lough and it landed on the side of Slieve Martin.

Again, like the centuries old fable two giants would do battle, only this time one has a distinct advantage.

First the technical bit.

The Outlander’s secret weapon is the All Wheel Control drive system which enables the driver to switch from 2WD motorway cruising to 4WD climb at the flick of a switch and while the car is motion.

The Active stability Control system constantly monitors road conditions and acts accordingly – switching power and grip to whichever corner of the car needs it.

Couple that with a 2.2 litre ,177bhp diesel powerplant with paddle shift, six speed gearbox with sport mode and you’re just about ready for anything – even Cloughmore.

Entering the forest park we kicked off the assent in 4WD which was a God send considering some genius from Mourne and District Council decided to install speed ramps on the way UP a bloody mountain.

As we climbed the gradient got steeper and the road went from two to one way traffic as the tarmac began to slowly disappear.

We were on gravel now and the Mitsubishi did just what MMC have been doing best for almost 80 years – and we were at the summit quicker than a ravenous mountain goat.

Not once did she falter, skid, slide or ever lose traction, in fact it was akin to a Sunday saunter up the hill of Howth.

The only disappointment here is that the weather conditions weren’t a little more inclement and a bout of torrential rain or a mud slide could have really put her to the test.

The lack of really treacherous conditions are hardly going to bother the vast majority of SUV customers who will rarely be off road.

Most will be busy families seeking safety and the versatility of a comfy, roomy 7 seater.

It’s also one of the the most guilt -free of all SUV driving with emissions down to 162g/km which in turn means annual road tax of €447 (€630 for Auto) while returning around 40mpg.

Because of its low centre of gravity it handles like a car and body roll is kept to a minimum and the Active Stability automatically corrects over and understeer .

Acceleration is brisk, hitting 100k/ph in under 10 seconds and there is plenty of poke while overtaking.

It is remarkably easy to manoeuvre for a carriage this big and it passed the the tried and tested five point turn.

This is a little experiment all city dwellers should try when considering a SUV.

Reverse out of your driveway and count the amount of full locks it takes to get you facing the opposite way.

Visibility is panoramic thanks to the elevated driving position and generous folding wing mirrors.

The only real grumble are a couple of design faults which if seriously looked at could be remedied.

Firstly is the third row of seats which are far too complicated.

In order to activate a series of levers have to be pulled in tandem to get the contraption to elevate then click into place.

God only knows how I didn’t loose a finger in the process.

When you do eventually get them up and running they are so small and cramped that only very young children could occupy them.

Getting those same small ones out is a bit of a nightmares with again a carefully choreographed sequence of flipping and folding to exit.

In the end you just open the boot which is very cleverly engineered with a hinged tailgate where the kids insisted on eating their lollies – even in the rain.

I’m not too gone on the reshaped nose or as the marketing spivs call it, the “fighter grille”.

The gaping gob is not instantly recognisable as a world leader in 4X4s and the absence of the stacked red diamonds logo is a definite minus.

The Japanese marque obviously tried to play it down like its twin brothers, the Peugeot 4007 and the Citroen C-Crosser, which although look more chic are Outlander under the skin down to the last bolt.

You can’t copy or buy pedigree, so you certainly shouldn’t try to hide it.

Prices for the Outlander 2WD start at €35,950. The 4WD 2.2 litre DiD we tested will cost €38,950.