MITSUBISHI PAJERO SPORT
Sporty Pajero hits the streets
Aimed squarely at competing with Toyota’s Fortuner, which continues to sell more than a thousand units per month, as well as the increasingly popular Ford Everest (536 in August) the all-new Pajero Sport will have a real battle on its hands.
Counting in its favour is Mitsubishi’s never break down reputation, an astute decision to stay with one engine, and a choice between two models, as opposed to the opposition’s often bewildering selection of engines and gearboxes.
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION
At the heart of the matter is Mitsubishi’s proven four-cylinder turbo-diesel which ticks all the right boxes by delivering 133 kW at a low 3,500 r/min, and even more impressive torque figures of 430 Nm at a mere 2,500 r/min. These numbers, to the uninitiated, translate as tremendous pulling power as well as above-average fuel economy. The super-smooth all-new eight-speed automatic transmission, which Mitsubishi claims to be best in class, is additionally kitted out with the company’s Super Select 4II four-wheel-drive system which features electronic off-road assistance as well.
This is how it works. The driver may select, depending on road conditions, either Gravel, Mud/Snow, Sand or Rock to suit every possible surface condition. This then seamlessly blends engine output, transmission settings, and braking. With the added lockable rear differential, the new Pajero Sport is virtually unstoppable.
Further demonstrating the manner in which even the most rugged 4x4 has been civilised to a certain extent, the Pajero Sport offers a Sport mode and paddles behind the steering wheel – allowing the driver full control for sporty driving on twisty roads, long descents and unusual towing conditions.
STYLING AND RIDE COMFORT
Traditionally, the Pajero has always had a soft ride and feel, a quiet cabin with very low noise levels, as well as surprisingly contemporary styling.
Whereas the previous Pajero Sport was competent but somewhat rough-looking in the styling department, the latest iteration is a real looker that will appeal to style-conscious individuals looking for a functional, yet luxurious vehicle suitable for daily use, but equally at home in the bush when the family needs an adventure break.
Built-in roof rails, black roof mouldings, colour-coded front and rear bumpers, as well as a stylish rear spoiler, sets the new Pajero Sport apart from its competitors.
The design and engineering teams that gave life to the Pajero Sport certainly did not hold back when they put pencil to paper (in a manner of speaking). LED driving lamps with auto levelling light up the darkest night in dramatic fashion, while the superb suspension – double wishbones in front and multi-link with stabiliser bar at the rear – give the Pajero Sport car-like ride and handling.
Another massive advantage is its class-leading turning circle of just 11.2 metres. This adds to its versatility when parking under urban conditions and when navigating obstacles in the bush.
Soft-feel leather seats, an electrically adjustable driver’s chair, and a third row of seats that fold flat into the floor when not in use illustrates, yet again, the advantages of good design.
Steering is fully adjustable (tilt and reach), there’s rear park distance control with a rear-view camera, while dual automatic air conditioning (with separate control for and by the rear passengers), and an electric parking brake all contribute to the overall impression of quality.
As a company that built its first vehicle in 1917 (the Model A) as well as the first four-wheel-drive diesel passenger car (PX33) shortly afterwards, Mitsubishi has an enviable reputation to maintain and expand. As the most successful Dakar champion of all time (12 wins, 7 of them consecutively) Mitsubishi now needs a “halo” vehicle to increase its footprint in the South African market. With two comprehensively kitted out models (4WD and 2WD), the latest Pajero Sport has the potential to make some serious marketing inroads in a segment dominated by Fortuner and Everest. It should, in all likelihood, start selling well in the main centres where there are established Mitsubishi dealerships. For the company, this is one potential drawback since Toyota seems to have a dealership in every dorpie with more than 2,000 inhabitants.
Quality-wise, the Pajero Sport matches, and even outguns, its rivals while retailing, on average, some R40,000 below Toyota and Ford. Watch this space for some serious discounting by the latter two, as Mitsubishi gains greater traction.