Want something fast and practical? Meet the Mitsubishi Airtrek Turbo R
Want more ground clearance and boot space than an Evo?
The Mitsubishi Airtrek turbo R (TA-CU2W) might be car for you. A casual glance at the pictures may have you thinking “Isn’t that just an Outlander? We have those in the UK, why import one?”
It’s the ‘Turbo R’ part of the name that you won’t get from a UK spec Outlander.
A practical Evo….sort of
The car shares its engine and permanent 4WD drivetrain with the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VII. The engine is Mitsubishi’s 2 litre 4G63T 4 cylinder turbocharged unit. The power output has been toned down a little to 240 hp from the Lancer’s 280 hp and the transmission is a ‘tiptronic’ 5 speed automatic. For me it’s a real shame there isn’t a manual version although a selectable automatic gearbox like this is better than a standard fully automatic box. These cars have gear shift buttons on the steering wheel, which at least means you can control the gear shifting and avoid the car changing gear mid corner or something equally annoying.
There is a healthy dose of practicality to go along with the performance. Inside you have spacious comfortable transport for 4 adults and a decent sized boot. Some trim levels also have factory fitted roof rails if you really want to bring a lot of stuff along with you.
Despite all the practicality, it is still quicker than a lot of cars that are described as ‘sports’ cars, with a 0-60 time of somewhere between 6 and 7 seconds depending on which specification sheet you read. Clearly the handling won’t be quite up to the Evo’s standards due to the higher ground clearance and lack of the active centre differential or active yaw control found on the Evo. I gather it can still be a lot of fun nonetheless. Note also that the Airtrek Turbo R is about 40 mm lower than a standard Airtrek / Outlander.
Outside you have alloy wheels as standard and a modest air scoop on the bonnet for the top mounted intercooler, to differentiate the car from a standard UK Outlander.
In terms of comfort and equipment, the Airtrek has all the usual features you’d expect to find: fully automatic air conditioning, electric windows & mirrors, central locking, rear privacy glass, optional sunroof.
There is a standard, if not outstanding set of safety features: ABS with EBD, front airbags, seat belt pre-tensioners.
This is definitely a car that looks better in darker colours in my opinion – either black or dark blue would be my choice. If you don’t agree, red, gold, silver and pearl white are also available.
Reasons not to buy a Mitsubishi Airtrek Turbo R
I hope you weren’t expecting great fuel economy from this car. Just in case you were, don’t! Performance always comes at a price, especially in a car this size, and the Airtrek is no exception. How bad will the fuel consumption be? The official figure using the standard test method in Japan at the time is 26 mpg. I doubt you’ll be following the test’s driving style once you’re hooked on forced induction, so I’d expect lower than this!
My second reason is performance. If you’re after a really fast estate car and / or you must have manual transmission, I think you could do better elsewhere. I’m thinking of the Subaru Forester STi or the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution GT wagon. Others would argue the case for including the Nissan Stagea on this list as well.