Ross Kiddie takes a look at Mitsubishi’s new Pajero Sport.
When Mitsubishi Motors New Zealand recently launched its Pajero Sport I was a little surprised that it was a five-seater vehicle only.
Well that has all changed. The Challenger replacement now has seven seats, and it sits competitively in the marketplace amidst a host of other ute-based, four-wheel-drive, and sport utility vehicles.
Mitsubishi almost pioneered that part of the market in 1996 with its Triton-based Challenger, and there has been a succession of Challenger models since.
Today’s Pajero Sport shares a lot of componentry with Triton, but it is distanced from it in the respect that it is a lot more sophisticated. It is more car-like than ute-like even though it is still built around a ladder chassis, live rear axle and suspension elements that are engineered for the serious off-road journey.
The Pajero Sport is also styled so that it loses any association with the Triton, it looks appealing and most definitely built to the SUV style.
It arrives with diesel power only, courtesy of the Triton, it is a 2.5-litre four-cylinder unit and is rated by Mitsubishi with 135kW and 437Nm. It is a real powerhouse and drives through the sophistication of an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
The engine/gearbox combination is rather special, especially so with the number of ratios, there is almost seamless gearing offering the best structures for both off-road challenges, and smooth momentum for the everyday commute.
Of course, the Pajero Sport also gets a seriously low ratio transfer system for when those four-wheel-drive tracks beckon. You can guarantee the mechanical elements have been engineered to stand the test of time, after all Mitsubishi offer a 10-year driveline warranty.
The Pajero Sport lands here in two variants, effectively low-grade or high-grade – XLS or VRX. The test car was a VRX, and it lists at $63,990, the XLS landing at $58,990.
For that price, it gets a strong specification list for comfort and convenience. A few of the major items include full leather trim, heated front seats which are electrically adjustable and state-of-the-art electronic systems for infotainment, most are operable through a central screen display.
The Pajero Sport gets all of the high-tech gear Mitsubishi are putting into their four-wheel-drive vehicles these days. There is a myriad of electronic and mechanical elements to aid grip both off-road and in close confine sealed road driving.
There is also a suite of safety features which keep the vehicle out of trouble in the first instance – Smartbrake, mis-acceleration mitigation system, and forward collision mitigation.
Against the clock, it will accelerate to 100km/h from a standstill in 11sec, and is comfortable with a 7.5sec highway overtake (80km/h to 120km/h).
Regarding fuel usage, Mitsubishi has done well to clean out the twin-camshaft, 16-valve engine. It is now rated with an eight-litre per 100km (35mpg) combined cycle average; that fits well with the test car’s average showing 9.6l/100km (30mpg) on return to the dealership.
Those figures, along with an 8l/100km instantaneous readout at 100km/h (engine speed 1600rpm), makes for economical motoring for a big vehicle which weighs in close to two-tonne.On the subject of weights, the Pajero Sport is also listed with a 3100kg tow rating.
At highway speed the Pajero Sport cruises comfortably with little sound intrusion, there is just a subdued diesel throb under load, but that is no louder than any of its competition.
The Pajero Sport is big and tall, but it is well balanced and is capable in a corner; that along with its energetic performance provides satisfaction for the driver.
The Pajero Sport encapsulates all of the ingredients which made the Challenger so successful here, and it can certainly be counted as a serious contender in what is now a very intense part of the SUV market.
Price: Mitsubishi Pajero Sport, $63,990
Dimensions: Length, 4785mm; width,181mm; height, 1805mm
Configuration: Four-cylinder,four-wheel-drive, 2422cc, 135kW, 437Nm,eight-speed automatic.
Performance: 0-100km/h, 11sec
Fuel usage: 8l/100km