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Mitsubishi Outlander to lead assault

Mitsubishi is expecting a sales jump from the average of around 550 a month up to 700.

The new compact SUV will be followed later this year by the new Challenger and a compact SUV Mitsubishi Australia president and CEO Robert McEniry said the brand would bolster its SUV ranks with a new Challenger and a production version of the Concept cX.

"We have a small, compact SUV mid next year, a Tiguan-sized vehicle." "We will put a diesel in Outlander ... we'll wait until we get an MMC diesel in it and we'll take that," he says. "We're going to be pretty strong in SUV and cross-over style vehicles, our Tiguan-style car will be in 2WD and 4WD, which will give us more smaller passenger opportunities as well," McEniry says.

The new compact SUV has inherited the nose of the Lancer and has been given a make-over in terms of equipment and material quality, something the Mitsubishi staffers admit was within its customer research on the outgoing vehicle.

Mitsubishi product planning manager Chris Maxted says the company's entrant in the compact SUV market was being bought - and re-purchased - by those interested in above-average off-road ability for the segment. "The market segment is maturing, 44 per cent are re-purchasing compact SUVs.

Maxted says the majority of buyers are married, some with young kids, and below the market segment's average buyer age of 30-50. "Compact SUVs spend a lot of time running around town, but 30 per cent of the use is on unsealed roads, so they are genuine crossovers - Outlander rates higher in the 4WD aspect for interest in the segment, so it's a bit unique for that," he says.

The 2010 Outlander continues with two pre-existing powerplants, albeit with minor changes to the V6, with suspension and braking unchanged. The 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine is unchanged at 125kW and 226Nm and sticks with a five-speed manual or optional continuously variable automatic transmission.

The three-litre V6 now produces 169kW - up by seven kilo-Watts - and an extra 15Nm of torque, which rises to 291Nm. The latter is spread over a broader curve and Mitsubishi says the new V6 has five per cent better fuel economy at 10.4l/100km with the six-speed automatic.

The model line-up has been rationalised to reduce the number of seven-seater models - the LS CVT model is the sole seven-seater. The 2.4-litre four-cylinder will be offered in LS manual or CVT, the mid-spec XLS and an XLS Luxury pack, both only on offer with the CVT. The three-litre V6 auto-only comes in VR and the VRX models, (V6 versions with six-speed automatic transmission only).

The standard safety features list has dual front airbags, stability control, hillstart assist, ABS brakes, with side and curtain airbags on all models bar the LS, where an option box needs to be ticked. Other safety features standard on XLS, XLS Luxury and VRX models are high-intensity discharge bi-xenon adaptive headlights and rear parking sensors, which are supplemented on the XLS Luxury and VRX with a rear camera.

The V6 has also benefitted from the addition of the Super All Wheel Control (S-AWC) electronically-controlled four-wheel drive system, above and beyond the standard set-up on the four-cylinder.

The new system on the V6 uses an active front limited-slip differential, which co-ordinates drive with the electronically controlled four-wheel drive coupling, apportioning drive as required.

The system uses electronics rather than the similar hydraulic system that is on the Lancer Evolution; the driver has the ability to change the system for tarmac, sand and locked.

The LS features list retains the ZG's air-conditioning, power windows and remote-control locking, but adds Hill Start Assist, two-speed variable intermittent wipers, USB ports, new instrumentation and new synchronised washers to limit obscured vision when cleaning the windscreen.

The XLS ups the wheel-size to 18in and adds Smart Key remote entry, upgraded cloth trim,climate control, alloy pedals, latest-generation Bluetooth 2.0 phone link; the XLS Luxury models gets different 18in alloys, leather trim, automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers, a sunroof, the reversing camera, the mutli-media set-up with a top-grade Rockford Fosgate sound system, although the satnav system remains an option on this and the VRX.

The V6 sports VR model's equipment list mimics the LS, with the addition of the S-AWC system, fog lights, reversing sensors, alloy pedals and enhanced interior trim. The VRX sports flagship has its own 18in alloy wheels, leather trim, auto headlights and wipers, auto headlights, rain sensing wipers, a sunroof, a reversing camera, the Rockford Fosgate sound system and the MMCS.

Mitsubishi is expecting a sales jump from the average of around 550 a month up to 700; pricing is yet to be released but expect some small price increases, primarily reflecting the spec changes.

McEniry says the new Outlander's flexibility and versatility is suited to an active lifestyle. "You can throw your surfboard or mountain bike in the back, plug your iPod into the USB port, and you - and up to six of your friends - can go places you've never been in comfort, style and safety," he says. "If you're the sort of person who likes to get up and go - anywhere - then the Outlander has all the technology and versatility to get you there."

Mitsubishi ZH Outlander
Engines:2.4 litre, DOHC 16 valve four-cylinder; three-litre V6, SOHC 24 valve.
Transmission: five-speed manual or CVT auto (2.4); six-speed automatic (3.0).
Power: 125kW @ 6000rpm; 169kW @ 6250rpm.
Torque: 226Nm @ 4100rpm; 291Nm @ 3750rpm.
Fuel consumption litres/100km: 9.5 (CVT 9.3), tank 60 litres (2.4); 10.4 (3.0).
Emissions g/km: 227 (2.4 CVT 222); 247 (3.0).
Rival:
Toyota RAV4, from $33,490.
Subaru Forester, from $30,990.
Suzuki Grand Vitara, from $30,990.
Nissan X-Trail, from $32,990.