Monday, August 29, 2011

Devon drives the Outlander Sport




Likes: Low running costs, roomy interior, priced well among rivals, stylish and practical.

Dislikes: CVT brings the buzz out of the engine, needs more power, not as sporty to drive as a Nissan Juke.

Compact crossovers are becoming all the rage. They're the same size as compact hatchbacks, but sit higher off the ground. The raised driving height allows for better vision all-round, and the compact size means they're urban friendly. Mitsubishi decided to jump into the game with the Outlander Sport. It's smaller and just as practical as the larger Outlander, but the price is cheaper. Will this be enough to lure buyers to the brand?

Performance: There's only one engine available with the Outlander-Sport. That's a 2-liter four-cylinder with 148hp. Performance is decent around town, but you'll struggle with it on the motorway. The CVT transmission feels like its robbing the engine of its revs. You'll have to work the engine hard to really get the most of it. Fuel economy however is suprisingly good.

Ride & Handling: The Outlander Sport isn't as sporty as the name suggest. There's a fair bit of body lean in corners. However, if you value comfort over ultimate control, the Outlander Sport is the perfect car for you. The supple suspension and big balloon tires does an effective job at absorbing most ruts and bumps.

Refinement: The CVT transmission really does bring the buzz out of the engine. It's far from intrusive, but can make long journeys tiresome. There's very little wind and road noise. On the motorway however, some wind and road noise will sneak into the cabin.

Behind the wheel: It's easy to find a comfortable driving position. THe steering adjust for reach and height, allowing all to get comfortable. The cabin plastics aren't classy, but the whole design and layout of the dashboard is attractive and user friendly. All-round visibility is good thanks to an elevated driving position.

Space & Practicality: The Outlander Sport offers decent space four five passengers. The boot space is decent, and can be increased thanks to split folding rear seats. There are some practical features too, such as hidden storage under the boot floor. The seats fold flat with no need to move the seat base first.

Equipment: All Outlander Sports come well equipped. The base trim comes with seven airbags, active stability control, Fuse hands-free Link System with USB port. Top of the range offers all-wheel-drive, keyless start and climate control.

Buying & Owning: The Outlander Sport undercuts its main rivals. However, the Nissan Juke offers more horespower for the same price. Resale value should be average, and trying to get an Outlander Sport with a discount shouldn't be hard to comeby. Running costs will be low thanks to decent fuel economy.

Quality & reliability: Some of the plastics in the Outlander Sport don't look flashy, but they feel well put together and long lasting. The mechanicals have been tested and tried, and there should be very little worry about reliability. Mitsubishi has a top-notch record in that department.

Safety & Security: All versions come with anti-whiplash head restraints, seven airbags,  brake assist and stability control standard. An alarm system, engine immobiliser and deadlocks are standard across the range to keep theft at bay.

The Outlander Sport isn't as bold as the Nissan Juke, and isn't as fun to drive as a Mini Countryman. You may find there really is no point to the Outlander Sport, but you'll be surprised when you see all that the Outlander Sport has to offer that the others don't. It's affordable, cheap to run, and is far roomier than the Juke and Countryman combined. The top of the range trim adds all-wheel-drive at a cheap price. It's not the most stylish of the bunch, but it sure does offer great value for the money and is versatile enough for small families. If you need a no-nonsense compact crossover, with plenty of space and kit for the money. Look no further.

Devon M 

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