The Mitsubishi Outlander | Part Two

Key selling points

Outlander’s rugged exterior styling and sporty image will appeal to both male and female drivers who want a distinctive vehicle with a bold image to set them apart from the average driver on the road. Male drivers that don’t want to be seen driving a boring family-oriented estate will be attracted to the Outlander. Similarly, female drivers will like its high driving position and robust safety package without having to drive a big off-roader.

By bridging the gap between saloon/estate and off-roader and imbuing it with stylish and trendy ‘crossover status’ Outlander is an intelligent compromise solution for those looking for the flexibility of an estate without its rather prosaic image, and the go-anywhere versatility of an all-wheel-drive without having to deal with its large dimensions.

Design

Derived from Mitsubishi’s innovative Active Sport Crossover ASX concept car of 2000, Outlander was designed, packaged and styled to amalgamate the best qualities from the off-roader, estate and saloon car segments.

Rather than simply re-launch the Japanese-market Airtrek into the more demanding and aggressive European market, Mitsubishi’s then newly-appointed head of design Olivier Boulay decided to create a bespoke model for Europe. The task was handed over to the designers at Mitsubishi Design America, the company’s pioneering styling house based in Cypress, California.

Aiming to infuse the car with a robust off-roader attitude, the Airtrek’s neat but conservative styling and cabin were replaced with a bold new exterior and interior design which successfully marries off-road and estate styling and gives Outlander its own unique identity and feel. Outlander’s striking face also ushered in Mitsubishi’s new corporate identity – a confident new grille with a broad vertical nose that houses a larger and more prominent Three-Diamond logo.

Chassis and Interior

Outlander uses the modified platform, semi-automatic INVECS-II four speed gearbox and rally-derived all-wheel-drive system from the award-winning Evolution VIII. With a 4545mm length, 1750mm width, 1670mm height (including roof rails) and long 2625mm wheelbase, Outlander offers generous front and rear accommodation, and plenty of usable storage space. Folding front and rear seats and split rear bench means Outlander’s loadbay increases from 402 to 1049litres and it can swallow objects up to 2400mm long.

Mitsubishi’s engineers aimed to make Outlander’s chassis as stiff as possible to enhance suspension control and lower the levels of noise vibration and harshness entering the cabin. To this end, the longitudinal and lateral stiffness of the suspension mounts has been enhanced to provide a smoother, quieter ride as well as improving steering response. The front and rear sections are reinforced with sturdy cross members, while the rear suspension is mounted relatively low with a cross-member joining the upper section of the wheel housings to the floor panel, for improved cornering stability.

continues... | Part Three
Published 28 May 2004 Melanie Carter

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