Even the fiercest of loyalists would have to be particularly drunk to call any of these achingly beautiful. As was the case with the previous-gen trio – although this time for different reasons – it’s the Mitsubishi that is the friendliest, the Jeep that is most striking and the Subaru the most pragmatic.
Subtle evolution is the Forester way – right from its genesis as a slightly raised estate it has been strait-laced, straight-edged and slab-sided – anti-style even. At least this latest version has developed a modicum of distinction, especially in the headlight detailing, front bumper treatment and increased windscreen rake.
The Outlander’s new suit is much more of a departure, and harder to nail down. Out goes the old car’s bluff beak, reverse rake D-pillar and upright split tailgate, replaced by a rounded nose, softer side crease lines, a ‘faster’ rear window angle and a powered single-piece tailgate. Also banished is the big mouth EVO X-style grille. In its place is a solid black panel linking the headlights garnished with a chrome trim graphic in line with the latest Pajero Sport. Still, it’s a clean and coherent design, if a little bland. Which is something that cannot be said of the new Cherokee.
Seldom does a new design cause as much consternation as this new bent-grille, slanty-eyed Jeep did when it first hit the digital wires. Surprisingly though, the furore has died down, with most of the team quite complimentary of the brave new approach. (See the Cherokee sidebar for our loyalist’s viewpoint.) The reality is it’s a softer Jeep with a completely different visual personality that’s likely to find broader appeal but is no less distinctive than its forebear. As ever, a design’s success is measured in sales not critical opinion.