MITSUBISHI PAJERO SPORT

Sporty Pajero hits the streets

Driven - - Contents - Re­port by BERNARD HELLBERG SR | Images © MITSUBISHI SA

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.

CLASSY IN­TE­RIOR

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.

LAST WORD

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.

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