19 February 1999



Mitsubishis new Challenger off-roader could be a good bet for

those wanting a reasonably-priced vehicle, says David Cousins

FED UP with lifestyle (ie drawing-room) off-roaders? Then youll be pleased to hear that Mitsubishis latest 4WD offering looks capable of altogether more workmanlike activities. For a start its got lots of sensible wipe-clean surfaces, unlike many off-roader interiors that are about as easy to clean as a lust-crazed llama. Then again, theres still a hi-lo ratio lever nestling next to the gearstick, which suggests that the designers thought it might well stray off the tarmac and be happy doing so.

The idea, says Mitsubishi, was to produce a vehicle that was cheaper than a Shogun but better suited to long journeys than an L200 pick-up. So what you get is a cross between the two that works rather well.

In the engine department theres a choice of 3 litre V6 174hp petrol or 2.5 litre 98hp diesel, the latter mustering 177lb ft of torque. Given the Challengers 1.8t weight, the diesel option looks distinctly laggardly on paper. But in practice it pulled an unladen vehicle along pretty well and its only at higher speeds that the short gearing shows up in engine noise.

There are three models, all five door. The 2.5TD GLS is the cheapest at £20,365, but still has a good amount of standard kit including electric windows all round, central locking, electric sunroof and limited slip diff. Above it comes the 2.5TD GLX at £23,675 with goodies like air conditioning, ABS, alloy wheels, front fog-lights, headlight washers and walnut-look trim. The petrol GLS costs a little more at £24,4965.

Verdict: Sensibly priced, good-looking off-roader with lots of space for people and baggage. Unimaginative-but-sensible interior makes it more suited to farm use than many off-roaders. The diesel doesnt have power to spare and works hard at speed, but should be economical.

Mitsubishi Challenger comes with 2.5 litre diesel or 174hp petrol engines.

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