FOR MITSUBISHI DEALERS, THE ARRIVAL OF THE ALL-NEW PAJERO SPORT – SPRUNG FROM THE BONES OF THE STRONG-SELLING TRITON UTE – HAS PROVIDED A RED BULL/DOUBLE ESPRESSO SORT OF JOLT.
It joins the venerable full-size Pajero (which has been around since Fred and Wilma were driving the streets of Bedrock), and is a capable addition to Mitsubishi’s tough off-road SUV range.
Yes, with vehicles like the Pajero Sport, Ford Everest and Toyota Fortuner, our burgeoning SUV market segment has some real choice when it comes to hard-working tow vehicles with real 4X4 capability.
For Mitsubishi, it has hatched the right vehicle at the right time.
Extra good news comes from the Mitsubishi bean-counters with the industrial-strength calculators – they’ve done a great job with the new car’s pricing; the Pajero Sport starts at just $45,000 (plus on-road costs) which undercuts one major rival by a staggering $9,900.
Vehicle Style: Large SUV
Price: $45,000 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 133kW/430Nm 2.4 litre 4cyl turbo-diesel | 8sp automatic
Fuel Economy claimed: 8.0 l/100km | tested: 9.1 l/100km
Mitsubishi’s all-new Pajero Sport rides on the Triton pickup platform. It’s a hard-working 4X4 wagon and perhaps biased towards recreational users and trailer towing, rather than for school mums.
It’s currently only sold as a five-seater (in a category of mostly seven-seaters) but the cavernous cargo space does point to a future model with a couple of extra seats.
At $45,000 (plus on-road costs), our Pajero Sport GLX looks sharp when shopped against its chief rivals – the somewhat 'bare' Toyota Fortuner GX ($49,990 plus on-road costs) and Ford Everest Ambiente ($54,990 plus on-road costs).
All Mitsubishi Pajero Sport variants boast some serious features suited to buyers in this segment – a braked towing capacity of 3.1-tonnes, ‘Super Select II’ 4WD System, Off-Road Terrain Control System, Trailer Stability Assist, Hill Descent Control, Hill Start Assist, reversing camera and 18-inch alloy wheels with 265/60R18 Toyo A32 ‘Open Country’ tyres just to get the ball rolling.
And then we’ll add a cargo capacity of 673-litres (rear seat in-place) or 1,524-litres (rear seat folded), wading depth of 700mm and some impressive angles – 30.0-degree approach, 23.1-degree break-over and 24.2-degree departure.
Get the picture? The Mitsubishi Pajero Sport is a serious 4X4… not a ‘softroader’.
- Standard Features: Cloth-trimmed seats, seven-inch colour touchscreen, automatic air-conditioning, electric front seat adjustment, rear seat recline function, rake/reach adjustable steering wheel, central locking, keyless start, cruise control, trip computer, speed limiter, rear view camera, trailer sway control.
- Infotainment: Six-speaker audio, Smartphone-Link Display Audio (SDA), Bluetooth, HDMI input, plus DAB radio, AM/FM, USB and aux-in.
You get the first hint that the Pajero Sport heralds a new generation of Mitsubishi design as soon as you open the door.
Unlike the previous Triton-based Challenger SUV, Mitsubishi’s stylists have undertaken some serious work with the Pajero Sport which looks contemporary and displays quality materials, fit and finish.
The electric front seat adjustment and rake/reach adjustment for the steering wheel facilitates a very comfortable driving position. The seats themselves, trimmed in tight-weave cloth (and looking like they can take some family-style punishment) have nice supportive bolstering in all the right places.
We also give a ‘thumbs-up’ to the dashboard for its layout and style with smart brushed-aluminium trim highlights flowing nicely to the door grab-handles.
All of the controls are easily operated, and, even with a full load, the air-con has no trouble keeping things comfortable inside. The rear passengers however don’t get vents in the rear of the centre console or roof, but have to make do with air piped-in from under the front seats.
While we admire Mitsubishi for its ‘on-trend’ Smartphone-link Display Audio (SDA) system – using a 7.0-inch screen atop the centre console, operating through either Android Auto or Apple CarPlay and providing impressively rapid connection to your stored apps – it has one glaring drawback.
Strangely, this is the only way to get satellite navigation. We took a long trip using one of the TMR Junior’s i-Phones for navigation and the drain on data was duly reported to 'the bridge' (and compensation expected!).
On the other hand, the TMR Juniors did enjoy the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport’s raised ‘theatre-style’ rear seat and legroom which brings the term ‘best-in-segment’ to mind.
And that massive luggage space (673-litres with the rear seat in-place or 1624-litres when folded remember) really nails the expectations of buyers in this league… we’re talking a labrador or three, or multiple seats of golf clubs.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 2.4-litre MIVEC turbo-diesel / [email protected],500rpm and [email protected],500rpm
- Transmission: Aisin electronically-controlled 8-speed automatic with steering wheel paddle-shifters
- Suspension: MacPherson strut front/independent three-link rear
- Steering: rack and pinion
- Brakes: 17-inch ventilated discs (front)/ 16-inch ventilated discs (rear)
- Tow Rating: 3100kgs (braked) 750kgs (unbraked)
In the all-new Pajero Sport, Mitsubishi’s 2.4-litre turbo-diesel bursts into life with a surprising ‘hush’ – a preview to the impressively quiet and refined operation of this full-size SUV.
The initial driving impression is very good, with on-road comfort clearly a priority for Mitsubishi engineers.
Opening the batting for our week with the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport was a trip to the city – often a painful exercise with large SUVs. But, with a best-in-class turning circle of 11.2-metres, just 3.6 turns lock-to-lock and a crystal-clear reversing camera image, the Pajero Sport makes light work of tight CBD carparks.
We also took it on a long run on rural backroads following the Murray into the Mallee. With a lot of gravel, and a lot of broken tarmac, we came away impressed for the long distance comfort and compliant on-road manners of the all-new Mitsubishi Pajero Sport.
It is certainly vastly better than the now-departed Challenger.
However, while it is impressively refined and quiet, its handling and ride is still not quite as 'resolved' as some rivals.
On the one hand we like the willing 2.4-litre turbo-diesel accompanied by handy ratios in the eight-speeder (buoyed by slick manual changes in ‘Sport’ mode with the paddle shifters) as well as the steering which is nicely weighted and responsive.
But – and we do recognise that on-road compromises are the flip-side of off-road agility – after initial turn-in the Pajero Sport feels too soft when cornering and displays a tad too much body roll.
It also doesn’t feel quite ‘at one’ with itself on rippled undulating tarmac, and, on these roads, is inclined to wander a little at highway speeds. (The front end needs a little more pinning down.)
This isn’t a deal-breaker, however, and realistically the Pajero Sport is Mitsubishi’s most cohesive SUV to date.
For those of you who regularly head off-road North of Cooktown or West of Alice Springs, our ‘off-roading’ with the Pajero Sport would be a doddle, but it did confirm the competence of Mitsubishi’s Triton-based SUV.
The Super Select II 4WD with off-road Terrain Control System (four-mode selectable) is immensely capable, though but the base model GLX misses out on the rear locking differential. With a nicely calibrated traction control and very good wheel articulation, we've proven before the Pajero Sport's off-road capability.
In marginal off-road conditions, it is certainly a close match for the Everest and Fortuner.
(It is easy to overlook the capability of these modern 4X4s; with a bit of care at the wheel, most can effortlessly tackle any fire-trial or desert track you care to point them at.)
ANCAP rating: 5-stars - this model scored 36.22 out of 37 possible points.
Safety Features: Seven airbags, rear-view camera, reversing sensors, active stability and traction control, hill descent control, trailer stability assist, hill start assist, emergency stop signal
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: five years/100,000kms
Servicing: 15,000kms/12 months/capped-price servicing
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
The question, in considering rivals, is: how much do YOU value seven-seats over five?
Ford has the directly comparable Everest Ambiente, but it’s priced $10k north of the Pajero Sport at $54,990 (plus on-roads)… puh-lease!
Good as the Everest is, Ford’s Pricing Department has ‘bowled a wide’ with that one.
Toyota Fortuner, like the Everest, is a seven-seater. With a $49,990 (plus on-roads) sticker the entry-grade GX model squares-off against the much better-featured Mitsubishi Pajero Sport GLS; but is a $4990 premium justified for ostensibly just two extra seats?
Also worth checking-out are the Isuzu MU-X ($45,600 plus on-roads for the ‘LS-M’), and Holden Colorado7 ($47,990 plus for the ‘LT’), but each of those lack the interior charm and quality-feel of the Pajero Sport.
And, if you don’t need the off-road capability of heavy-duty 4X4, you might also consider the Hyundai Santa Fe ($41,490 plus for the Active diesel AWD) and Kia Sorento ($44,490 plus for the ‘ Si’ diesel AWD).
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
This all-new model Pajero Sport GLX takes the challenge right up to high-profile rivals from Toyota and Ford, and will keep them honest both on-road and off. If looking for genuine off-road ability, and a tough towing wagon, this one must be included on your shopping list.
It is very competitively priced, is quite refined to drive, presents a handsome, high-quality interior and is easy on the diesel.
OK, it’s only currently available as a five-seater (for now) but the trade-off is that gargantuan cargo area.
All things considered, it’s “welcome back” to the big game for Mitsubishi. The tough, capable but refined Pajero Sport GLX hits a home run for Aussie SUV buyers.
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