The Mitsubishi Motor Corporation did themselves no harm hanging on to the Outlander for as long as they could.
It's been a popular model for the company, and during its seven-year lifecycle, it became one of my favourite SUVs. I have had many for evaluation during its time here as upgrades, facelifts and driveline additions kept it up to date, and I also get to drive one regularly, The Star has an Outlander as a pool car.
The Outlander has just entered a new lifecycle, the newcomer encapsulates all of the ingredients of old, yet is it is packaged in a brand new body shell which oozes style, functionality and efficiency.
And it looks fabulous. The design isn't quite as strong as before, but that matters little, it is sharp, trendy and its mid-to-large size proportions lends itself to multiple use of internal space.
The newcomer arrives here in six, five and seven-seat variants, all with new engines and now with the option of diesel power. Of note, there is a 2-litre petrol engine (2WD), a 2.4-litre petrol engine (4WD) and a 2.2-litre diesel (4WD).
Varying specification levels are offered throughout the range. While it's my wish to drive the new diesel soon, the test car was a high-specification VRX at $54,490, it gets the 2.4-litre petrol engine coupled to Mitsubishi's characteristic continuously variable transmission.
The engine has been manufactured with efficiency in mind, it is rated at 126kW and 224Nm and lays claim to a 7.5-litre per 100km (38mpg) combined cycle fuel usage figure. It is strong, quiet and works effectively in terms of throttle request and fuel use.
My time with the test car had the trip computer constantly listing around 10l/100km (28mpg) with an instantaneous readout showing 7l/100km (40mpg) at 100km/h (engine speed 1900rpm).
And the graphics which display fuel usage are very deep, there is an emphasis on fuel saving with an economy driving mode which moderates engine performance, albeit far from alarmingly. Two green leaf display graphics are in the driver's line of vision and they are there to encourage a thrifty driving style.
Power is harnessed well by the transmission, CVT doesn't rob engine strength, and in normal drive mode the power flows smoothly and strongly, the four-cylinder, 2360cc engine buyer can expect a standstill to 100km/h time of 9.5sec. Drive is sent to all four wheels through a lockable centre differential, a console switch needs to be pressed to select the desired drive mode.
The complex Evo-derived technology within the four-wheel-drive system, which was a feature of the V6-powered model of the previous generation, is used in the new Outlander. However, it has been hidden and the driver involvement in terms of activating four-wheel-drive has been simplified immensely which promotes confidence-boosting traction off the seal.
By chance I found a road nestled in the Malvern Hills which was new to me, so I used it to evaluate the Outlander on loose surfaces. It winds its way from Sheffield to Whitecliffs, the Outlander steered directly in the deep shingle and it has suspension which absorbs ruts and corrugations.
Power is put to ground well through large 225/55 x 18in Toyo rubber, while suspension behaviour and body balance combine to produce comfortable, safe travel. On the seal, the Outlander has direct steering and accurate handling, it is more car-like that SUV-like.
In VRX form the Outlander bristles with technology, major fitment includes satellite navigation, paddle-shift gear change, power tailgate, full leather trim with heated front seats, Bluetooth audio streaming, dual zone climate control, adaptive cruise control, ISOFIX child seat tethers and complex traction and stability control network with forward collision mitigation.
It will be interesting to see if Mitsubishi share the new Outlander. I say that because they have an alliance with Peugeot and the old model also arrived here as Peugeot's 4007, while the Mitsubishi ASX is sold by Peugeot as the 4008.
I'm hoping that there will be some cross pollination with the Outlander, it is a fine SUV which not only picks up where the old model left off, but it raises the bar in terms of practicality and functionality.