Mitsubishi’s diesel-powered Outlander 4Work has tended to be overshadowed in the past couple of years by its petrol-electric hybrid stablemate, the PHEV, despite the fact that sales for the niche models were practically identical last year at just over 100 units apiece.

It would be a shame for the conventional diesel derivative to be ignored because its 150hp 2.2-litre common-rail engine delivers decent performance on-road and in off-road conditions that are not too arduous. Mitsubishi reckons that the tipping point for whether diesel is more efficient than plug-in is if journeys are much above 100 miles between charges.

As a car-derived van, the Outlander 4Work six-speed manual offers a refined driving experience – a characteristic it has in common with its only real rivals: the Dacia Duster Commercial and the Ssangyong Korando CSX Commercial.

The diesel is obviously not as smooth and quiet on the road as the petrol-electric hybrid, but improvements to sound insulation in last year’s facelift mean road and engine noise is not intrusive.

The Outlander diesel offers a payload of 695kg, which compares favourably to the 514kg of the Korando and the 550kg of the Duster Commercial. It also means the diesel gives you 200kg more weight capacity than its PHEV sibling. With a load volume of 1.6m3, Mitsubishi’s larger 4×4 also provides far more cargo space than the Duster’s 1.0m3 or the 1.3m3 of the Korando. In addition, the Outlander and the Korando can both tow a 2000kg load, which is 500kg more than the Dacia Commercial can manage.

Prospective customers should make sure they need this sort of workhorse muscle though, because when it comes to price (all figures listed exclude VAT) the Outlander will set you back £21,728, which is not far off double the asking price of £11,295 for the entry-level 4×4 from Dacia, the Duster Commercial Ambiance. It is also considerably more than Ssangyong is asking for the Korando CSX, which will set you back £13,965.

In terms of fuel economy, Mitsubishi’s official combined cycle consumption for the Outlander is 53.3mpg, with CO2 emissions of 139g/km. The Duster Commercial comes in at 54.3mpg and 137g/km while Ssangyong quotes 45.6mpg and 157g/km for the Korando Commercial 4×4.

The revised Outlander 4Work, which arrived in October last year, sports new LED headlamps, a new radiator grille, and new front and rear bumpers to give the vehicle a more “imposing” look, according to the manufacturer.

The interior, furnished in black and grey, is on the sober side, but all the controls are simple and easy to use, and an elevated driving position provides a good view of surroundings.

On the road the Outlander handles well with precise and steady steering coupled with slick changes from the six-speed manual gearbox that feels at home in town and out on the open road, where the 150hp powertrain delivers plenty of response. Generous equipment levels, befitting the vehicle’s price tag and its passenger car origins, include cruise control, an adjustable speed limiter, stop/start, hill-start assist and dual-zone climate control.

Off-road the 4Work’s 4×4 system, while not in the same league as that of its big brother, the L200 pick-up, makes sure there is no drama in tackling slippery farm tracks and icy rural lanes.

With the selectable 4×4 system in 4WD Eco mode you remain in front-wheel drive until you start to lose grip, which triggers the 4×4 to cut in. Where four-wheel drive is a necessity, 4WD Auto can be engaged to ensure all four wheels are driven continually. If more traction is needed then opt for 4WD Lock.

The load area is reached through a rear tailgate and two side doors, all of which are inherited from the passenger car version. The side doors in particular are not ideal loading apertures, but at least you get two of them. We were disappointed that no bulkhead was fitted to protect the cab from the load bay in our test vehicle, but you can get one fitted for £244.

Value analyst Cap predicts decent residual values for the 4Work of 31.9% after three years/60,000 miles, which may help reassure those who baulk at the asking price.

Mitsubishi Outlander 4Work 2.2 150hp DiD manual
Price (ex VAT) £21,728
Insurance group 10E
Warranty 5yrs/62,500mls
Service intervals 1yr/12,500mls
Load length 1780mm
Load width 930mm/1320mm
Load bay height 1040mm
Gross payload 695kg
Load volume 1.6m3
Engine size/power 2268cc/150hp
On sale October 2015
Combined fuel economy 53.3mpg
CO2 139g/km