The first move is a name change: Challenger is out, and Pajero Sport is in. However the new model - like the one it replaces - is derived from the Triton ute platform and drivetrain and not the Pajero as the name suggests.
Unlike the previous Challenger, however, the new Pajero Sport promises vastly more refined on-road and off-road performance, an up-spec interior feel and a longer feature list.
Mitsubishi said that Aussie-bound vehicles will "focus on carrying capacity rather than seven seats” despite a seven-seat version being offered overseas.
This suggests a focus on lifestyle buyers and 'grey nomads' for the new car, leaving seven-seat family duties to the Outlander and Pajero. A seven-seat version in the future however remains a consideration, "depending upon customer feedback", Mitsubishi told TMR.
The interior styling and SUV-like accommodation sees the new car, like the Fortuner, distancing itself from its light commercial origins.
All Australian delivered Pajero Sports will arrive with Super Select II four-wheel-drive, operated via a rotary controller offering 2WD, 4WD high range, 4WD high (with diff locked) and 4WD low range (with diff locked).
It also offers four 'terrain' selections, Mud, Snow, Gravel and Sand, plus hill descent control among a suite of off-road technologies.
The 2.4 litre turbo diesel engine shared with the Triton sits under the bonnet, producing 133kw and 430Nm. It is the sole engine of choice, as is' a Mitsubishi-first' eight-speed automatic.
Pricing and specifications are still to be revealed for Australia, but Mitsubishi has revealed it will be targeting MU-X, Colorado 7, and Fortuner price wise, giving the Pajero Sport a potential price range sitting somewhere between $40,000 for a entry-grade MU-X, all the way up to $60,000 to square off against the top-spec Fortuner Crusade.
While those three vehicles (and Ford’s Ranger) all feature seven seats, the Pajero Sport counters with a stronger safety suite.
The Pajero Sport will be available with blind spot warning, forward collision mitigation braking, around-view camera, seven airbags and ultrasonic misacceleration mitigation system (UMS), which overrides accelerator pressure if an obstacle is detected.
The Pajero Sport is set to launch in Australia in early December, with full pricing and specification to be revealed closer to the new SUV’s on-sale date. TMR will keep you up to date on that info as it arrives.
(TMR's Tim O'Brien has been driving the new Pajero Sport in Japan, watch this space for his review.)