Floor the throttle and the Outlander Sport displays enough punch to satisfy most drivers. Those wanting a sportier response will use the paddle-shifter, which mimics a six-speed and shifts in first gear at 6000 rpm. But coming out of tight corners, you'll want to keep its engine spinning at over 3500 rpm. A five-speed manual gearbox will be available for those who want to shift for themselves.

Targeting a market that desires a higher level of ride comfort, the Mitsubishi crossover employs clever noise and vibration isolation with a ride quality that's arguably more comfortable and quieter than the Forester or Qashqai. "This car perfectly blends the high-level chassis stability of the Evo with the utility and comfort of the Outlander, but packaged into a more compact size," says Fujii.

It turns in on cue with good weight and steering feel and suffers from less understeer and body roll than the bigger Outlander, due in large part to its relatively light weight (the Japanese-spec model is roughly 3130 lb.) and a revised front McPherson strut and rear multi-link setup. The Outlander Sport pulls up adequately thanks to its front vented disc brakes with less than expected nose dive. It feels as solid, substantial, and stable on the road as any rival crossover on the market today.

All models worldwide will reportedly be available with ASC, ABS (with EBD), hill-start assist, and a brake energy regenerative system that channels the energy generated during deceleration and braking to the battery for use by the idle-stop system. The new crossover will also be available with Mitsubishi's three-mode electronically controlled AWD system, inherited from the Outlander. It allows drivers the choice of 2WD, AWD auto, and AWD lockup.

Internal safety tests award the Japanese-market RVR five-star offset and side impact crash test results. That car comes with seven airbags fitted as standard, including a driver's knee bag.