This new Outlander will seat seven on the school run yet its footprint is smaller than that of most family estates. It operates in two-wheel drive in normal road conditions so its average fuel consumption is on a par with an ordinary family saloon, and its emission levels are in the lowest VED band of any seven-seater SUV. It provides all the big-car protection you are looking for, but it has been designed to do so in such a way as to minimize injury to pedestrians or damage to vehicles lighter than itself: it?s lean, green and responsible.

The Outlander is neither a butch off-roader nor a jacked-up estate; it?s an SUV with attitude. Quintessentially Japanese, its handsome lines are clean and clear of gimmicks, making it one of the best looking cars of its kind.

From the front it is chunky and purposeful, clearly inspired by the 2002 Pajero Evolution concept car. From the side the combination of a rising waistline, downward sloping roof whose curves are echoed in the rear spoiler, and slash-back rear windows give an illusion of perpetual forward motion.

From the rear its solid stance is softened by wrap-aroundlights and tailgate glass, a distinctive design unhampered by an external spare wheel. The Outlander has no need for window-dressing for it has nothing to prove ? with seventy years expertise in manufacturing 4×4 vehicles Mitsubishi are simply doing what comes naturally.