Pajero combines off–road toughness with the comfort of a car
MITSUBISHI’S Pajero has long been a favourite of the offroad set, and the NS model maintained its traditional appeal. Not quite as big as the acknowledged heavyweights in the class, it delivered toughness and reliability in a value-for-money 4WD package.
Mitsubishi offered three models in the NS range when launched. The line-up opened with the GLX, and moved up through the VR-X to the range-topping Exceed.
The five-door wagon body had seating for seven in a foldaway arrangement that made it suitable for most uses.
It was particularly popular with the grey nomad set who appreciated its 2.5-tonne towing capacity. With its monocoque construction, the Pajero was taut and proved quite car-like to drive. It handled well on sealed and unsealed roads, was smooth and quiet, and rode comfortably on all road surfaces.
Two engines were available. The petrol option was a 3.8-litre double overhead camshaft V6 that put out 184kW at 6000rpm and 329Nm at 2750rpm; the alternative option was a 3.2-litre direct injection turbodiesel four that produced 118kW at 3800rpm and 381Nm at 2000rpm.
Both versions could be had with a five-speed manual gearbox or a five-speed auto, which had a manual shifting option. Final drive was through all four wheels.
With high and low range four-wheel drive with diff-lock, and hill-start assistance on the manual, the Pajero was a competent offroader.
All models were well equipped: the base GLX came with auto air, cruise, CD sound, roof racks, alarm and 17-inch alloy wheels; the rangetopper Exceed gained leather trim, heated power front seats, fog lamps and 18-inch alloys.
The big Pajero is generally a well-built and reliable wagon with few problems. Left-side exhaust manifolds are known to crack, and oil consumption climbs with kays. Mechanics say worn valve stem oil seals are generally the cause of the high oil consumption.
Pajeros are often bought for their towing capacity, which means hard work hauling heavy loads, so look for a service record to show that maintenance has been kept up. Also look for signs of being used in heavy off-road work.
Check for damage to underbody, fittings and suspension, and scratched or dented body panels.
The Pajero has a four-star ANCAP rating, thanks dual front, head and side airbags, ABS brakes, electronic brake force optimisation and electronic stability control.
Being a big, heavy four-wheel drive wagon, the Pajero is no fuel miser. Mitsubishi claimed the V6 petrol would average 13.7L/100 km, the turbo-diesel four 9.5–10.5L/100 km.