Mitsubishi debuted their new Pajero Sport at Kyalami last month. They did themselves a discervice.
Hidden in all the clutter of a motoring festival was one of the finest off road drivetrains I have experienced.
Fortunately someone at Mitsubishi must have understood the this was a system that needed to be experienced and set up the opportunity for us.
Obviously all off road demonstrations set up by a manufacturer are construed to a greater or lesser extent. One is hardly likely to set your own vehicle up for failure.
However the course set up for the Pajero Sport was challenging by any standards, but all the same it made it through all the challenges. Most serious 4x4s would probably have done so. However the most significant dimension to the Pajero’s achievement was how the vehicle achieved it.
Priced at under R600 000 the Pajero Sport actually slots in at the lower end of the large SUV range. It went about its business like some vehicles of twice the price.
The secret I believe lies in how Mitsubishi have managed to balance all aspects contributing to off-road performance.
The new Pajero Sport is powered by Mitsubishi’s new-generation high-performance MIVEC 4-cylinder turbo diesel engine producing 133kW at 3500rpm.
Crucially though 430Nm of torque is available at 2 500rpm.
Add to this first part of the recipe the 8-speed automatic transmission, with intelligent shift control, and a much lower than previously drive ratio through the transfer box and drive was never a problem.
But the Pajero Sport benefits further from Mitsubishi’s Super Select 4-II 4WD system, which now boasts electronic off-road assistance as well.
This basically irons out the torque delivery to the wheels, ensuring the vehicle does not bog or slip, both factors making for smoother and more competent traversing of rough terrain.
The vehicle’s ability to pull off on a steep incline off-road is extraordinary and the overriding impression when off-roading is that the vehicle is unstressed, which leaves the driver feeling the same.
Hill-Descent Control has been added for additional safety when on dangerous ground and this too is extremely easy to use, once engaged, by way of brake and throttle and never threatens to let the vehicle run away.
Brake temperature is also monitored and the driver informed if a full stop is recommended. In addition, the selectable Off-road Mode maximises traction on unsealed surfaces.
The additional electronic assistance allows the driver to select either the Gravel, Mud/Snow, Sand or Rock setting to suit surface conditions and optimise engine output, transmission settings and braking for superior traction.
Add the lockable rear differential and the Pajero Sport will take you anywhere you might realistically want to go in the utmost comfort.
The smooth 8-speed automatic transmission also offers a Sport Mode with manual shifting and Paddle Shifts behind the steering wheel, allowing the driver full control for sports driving on twisty roads, long descents and unusual towing conditions.
Styling has been changed significantly and perhaps some of the Pajero distinctiveness has been lost, but that is the future, ask any Hilux fan.
LED driving lamps with auto levelling and DRLs, including a headlamp washer for the 4WD version, are standard features, while a LED high-mounted rearstop lamp on the tailgate provides additional safety.
In line with its Pajero heritage, the newcomer boasts double wishbone coil springs with a stabilizer bar in the front and multi-link suspension with stabilizer bar in the back.
The quiet drive, thanks to its strong ladder-frame design which absorbs all levels of NVH, gives the new Pajero Sport a big sedan car-like ride and handling.
The new Pajero Sport has a respectable turning circle of just 11.2m which makes it easy enough to deal with in the urban space.
The high-quality feel of the luxurious interior offers good comfort and space with generous head and legroom as well as storage, luggage or sport equipment space for the more adventurous.
Soft-feel leather seats further enhance the quality feel of the new Pajero Sport. The driver’s seat is electrically adjustable.
The second row of seats offers a 60:40 split with tumble, reclining and sliding function with centre armrest and cup holders.
The third row of seats folds flat into the floor to minimise intrusion into the cargo space when not in use.
Driver comfort is improved with a tilt and telescopic steering wheel with paddle shifts, rear park distance control with a rearview camera, dual automatic air conditioning with rear passenger temperature controls and an electric parking brake.
Other standard features, among many others, include a keyless operating system with electronic start function, multi-function leather steering wheel with audio and cruise control, Bluetooth with hands-free voice control and fold-away electric door mirrors incorporating turn indicators.
Significant passenger protection features coupled with Mitsubishi’s Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution (RISE) body construction have earned the all-new Pajero Sport the maximum score in the Australian ANCAP safety test – a rating of 5 stars.
Standard built-in safety features which include Active Stability and Traction Control (ASTC), ABS (Anti-lock Braking System), EBD (Electronic Brake-force Distribution), BAS (Brake Assist System), Brake Override System and six airbags (Driver, Passenger, Seat and Side Curtains) round off the safety package now on offer by the new Pajero Sport.
Hill Descent Control and the new electronic Off-Road Mode Control add additional safety benefits to impressive off road performance.
Dusk-sensing headlamps, rain-sensing windscreen wipers, an electronic chromatic rear-view mirror, a LED high-mounted stop lamp on the tailgate and a rearview camera, all add to the impressive list of safety features of the new Pajero Sport.
“Something that adds huge value to the new Pajero Sport is the fact that many additional features come as standard as opposed to most competitors where it attracts an extra cost,” says Mitsubishi SA GM Nic Campbell.
“If it’s value for money you crave, you’d be hard pressed to look beyond the keenly priced and well-equipped Pajero Sport 4WD derivative,” says Campbell.
“We are confident that the allnew Pajero Sport will fit in nicely with our existing product line-up and customer base, while luring new lifestyle customers with its sophisticated car-like driving dynamics, luxurious comfort and elegant style as well as its admirable off-road reputation,” adds Campbell.
- Pajero Sport 2.4 D4 MIVEC 2WD 8-speed A/T R569 995
- Pajero Sport 2.4 D4 MIVEC 4WD 8-speed A/T R599 995
The new Mitsubishi Pajero Sport has a 3-year/100 000km manufacturer’s warranty and a 5-year/90 000km service plan with 10 000km service intervals.