Outlander big pic

Replacing an unlovely original, today’s bigger Outlander looks snappy and comes with diesel power. Three versions are fielded against competition in the Freelander class.

Inside there’s plenty of room, reasonable plastics, a tidy L200-like dash and good kit, even on the entry-level Equippe (£19,449).

To get seven seats you’ll need Warrior trim (£21,999): the extra two fold up from the floor but are insubstantial and tiny. A better touch is two-way adjustment for the middle-row pews, which drop flat on command from switches just inside a reasonable load area.

And the tailgate now divides horizontally, a la Range Rover, to provide a small sheltered perch. The base-trim Commercial version costs £17,009 including VAT and tows 2t. 

VW provides the Outlander’s 138hp 2.0 turbodiesel, Aisin adds an easy-shifting six-speed manual gearbox. Peugeot’s 154hp 2.2 diesel and a 168hp petrol model will also be offered, though only the last one gets an automatic option.

Right now the 2.0 engine is just about enough, though it needs full beans for best effect. And refinement? Only average once away from a quiet cruise, thanks to mid-range engine boom and sometimes-intrusive tyre noise.

Elsewhere, ‘average’ pretty much sums up the ride (choppy at low speed and over potholes, otherwise firm) and the handling. The new Outlander doesn’t roll much and steers tidily, but there’s no inspiration factor. A bonus is a tight turning circle.

Tarmac is this car’s natural home. Yet it’ll surprise you on the rough, where a switchable centre diff lock and effective traction control keep it clambering. It’s a soft-roader with unexpected attitude.

Good all-rounder, helped by arrival of diesel engine. Better in the rough than you might expect