ROUGH & REFINED – MITSUBISHI PAJERO
THE RECENT LAUNCH OF TWO ALL-NEW MITSUBISHI PAJERO SPORT VERSIONS AT THE WESBANK SA MOTORING EXPERIENCE AT KYALAMI, MIDRAND, ATTRACTED CONSIDERABLE INTEREST. THIS IS NOT ONLY BECAUSE OF THE PRESENCE OF BRAND AMBASSADOR VICTOR MATFIELD, BUT ALSO BECAUSE MITSUBISHI HAS MANAGED TO BRING TO MARKET A VEHICLE THAT BUILDS ON ITS LEGENDARY STATUS AS THE CHAMPION OF THE DAKAR – THE TOUGHEST ENDURANCE OFFROAD RACE ON THE PLANET – WITH NO FEWER THAN 12 VICTORIES. SEVEN OF THESE WERE IN CONSECUTIVE EVENTS.
Keeping it simple with a 4x2 and a 4x4 model, the new Pajero Sport excels in a number of areas. The stunning new 2.4 turbodiesel is mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox, thereby presenting a “See if you can do better” challenge to the likes of the Toyota Fortuner and Ford’s Everest.
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION
A high-output 133 kW turbodiesel four-cylinder does duty in both models, and produces 430 Nm of torque to make it a virtually perfect vehicle for towing horseboxes, caravans and heavy trailers (750 kg unbraked).
In addition, the eight-speed gearbox is notewor thy for smooth acceleration at low revs and fairly decent fuel economy which, when driven sensibly, dips under the 8 l/100 km mark, and results in an 800 km range from its generously sized 68 l tank.
The 4x4 version also enjoys the Super Select 4-II 4WD system, providing superb traction in sand and mud, as well as on snow. This is activated by an idiot-proof dial on the console which enables the driver to choose the perfect option – right down to 4WD low with central diff locked for extreme off-road conditions.
SAFETY & LUXURY
Six airbags, active stability and traction control, hill descent control (on the 4x4 version), and a brake system with ABS, EBD and BAS (brake assist) join forces with rear park distance control, while central door locking (automatic at 15 km/h), and seven full-leather seats all point to a vehicle that is much more than a “rough ’n ready” off-roader.
An electrically adjustable driver’s seat, Bluetooth with handsfree voice control, and full automatic dual air-conditioning with rear passenger controls, as well as front-rear and boot power sockets enable the 2017 Pajero Sport to face its rivals on an even footing.
The previous model was rather narrow and upright to my taste, and would not have won any design awards.
The new models, on the other hand, while still large and imposing (as a 4x4 should be), boast a more rounded front and rear, while the very latest LED driving lights add a touch
of class. All the other features one would expect of an upmarket vehicle – such as fully adjustable steering (height and reach), paddle shifts (for overriding the automatic gearbox when required), rear view camera, and 18” alloy wheels (twotone on the 4x4 model), as well as rain-sensing wipers – show that Mitsubishi are serious about making considerable marketing inroads in this segment.
Competitively priced at R569,995 for the 4x2 and R599,995 for the 4x4, Mitsubishi enjoys a price advantage of between R25,000 and R40,000 when compared with similarly specified Fortuners and Everests – explaining why the new Pajero Sport outsold its rivals in Australia while taking numerous accolades along the way, such as a full Austrian NCAP five-star rating. Included in the price is a three-year/100,000 km warranty and a five-year/90,000 km service plan.
With 100 years of history behind them, Mitsubishi at last seems set to return to its former glory as a manufacturer of vehicles that seldom, if ever, break down. The brand has been experiencing tough times of late, and the Pajero Sport could be the model that will once again make Mitsubishi a force to be reckoned with.