The GSR badge means a lot to Mitsubishi fans. It has graced many a cracking performance car over the years – some more deserving of its sporting glow than others – though last year’s Mitsubishi ASX GSR small SUV (and now the Triton GSR ute!) proves that prostitution remains rife in Mitsubishi’s marketing department. Black-out visuals aside, they’re not really true to the GSR origins.
What all that does is set the new Outlander PHEV GSR up for failure if you're measuring it in terms of brand heritage and credibility with Mitsubishi fans. Yet, for once in a modern Mitsubishi, this GSR is more than meets the eye.
There’s plenty of trademark lipstick and tinsel at work here, with gloss-black coating the front and rear bumper skid plates, the door mirrors, roof and roof rails, along with black-chrome on the grille, bumper details and tailgate garnish.
Black 18-inch alloys with machined faces do their best to complete the GSR look’ but there’s no disguising the Outlander’s odd proportions (did you know it shares its 2670mm wheelbase with the much smaller ASX and Eclipse Cross?), cheap detailing and dated aroma.
What sets the PHEV GSR apart is its suspension tune. It scores Bilstein monotube front struts with ball-bearing upper insulator assemblies, Bilstein rear dampers and increased front and rear spring rates to justify the black GSR badge on its tailgate. And inside there’s tactile microsuede seat inserts (with leatherette bolsters), an electric driver’s seat, silver stitching and anthracite headlining.
The method to all this madness is that the plug-in hybrid PHEV has long been the best Outlander to drive, capitalising on the low centre-of-gravity benefits of having a 13.8kWh lithium-ion battery embedded in the floor and an electric motor on each axle.
The Bilsteins control body movement well. For a medium SUV weighing 1880kg, the plug-in Outlander sits flat through corners and has a pleasant and even consistency to its steering response. Combined with the silky torque of its battery-boosted drivetrain and the seamless interplay with a modest 94kW/199Nm 2.4-litre petrol four, the PHEV GSR gallops along smoothly.
It’s only when really hustled – either out of tight corners or roundabouts, or when maximum overtaking grunt is required – that some rough edges are exposed. The PHEV’s 225/55R18 Toyo tyres let the front end push wide and the petrol 2.4 isn’t quiet when it soars towards its rev peak.
Speaking of rough, there’s the GSR’s ride, which in normal urban driving tolerable if firm. At low speeds on bad roads, it degenerates to poor as various parts of the Outlander’s interior grumble in protest. Yet, even as speeds rise, you remain constantly aware that it’s merely tracing the topography underneath.
The best parts of the Outlander PHEV experience aren’t specific to the GSR at all. Up to 54km of electric-only city driving is addictively soothing, providing you have the facility to plug it in (though it will manually recharge – loudly – from the engine). And once bi-directional charging becomes available here in 2021, the PHEV will be able to feed surplus energy back into the grid.
It also has a commanding driving position on a surprisingly comfortable seat, a much-improved new 8.0-inch multimedia system (with eight robust speakers in GSR), a spacious rear bench and a reasonable 463L boot. But nothing can hide the fact that this is Outlander has been around for eight years, and the GSR edition is all about tarting it up.
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV GSR specs
Engine 2360cc 4cyl, dohc, 16v
Motor dual (front and rear axles)
Battery 13.8kWh lithium-ion
Max combined power 157kW
Max torque 332Nm
0-100km/h 10.5sec (claimed)
Economy 1.9L/100km (combined)
On sale Now