All-new Pajero will be a... plug-in hybrid?

Gcmain

If the Land Rover Defender and Mercedes-Benz G-Class can be reinvented after several decades (admittedly, the former more so than the latter), then surely the Mitsubishi Pajero, the 4th generation of which debuted as long ago as 2006, could get a new lease of life too…

Although Mitsubishi’s revered off-roader has received several update packages to (at least try to) keep up with the times, it was widely believed that Pajero’s production run would finally come to an end when a Final Edition derivative – limited to just 700 units ­– was released in the Japanese market last year. The Pajero remains listed on Mitsubishi Motors SA’s website for the moment, but there has been no talk of an all-new model to replace the venerable SUV.

And now, all of a sudden, the Japanese motoring news site Spyder7 is reporting that an all-new Pajero model, styled along the lines of the Concept GC-PHEV (pictured), which appeared on the international show circuit from 2013 to 2015, will be revealed in “late 2021 or 2022”.

According to the site, the new Pajero will adopt a new-generation ladder-frame chassis and longer wheelbase, but it will have roughly the same dimensions as the current model… The retention of a body-on-chassis configuration, better space utilisation and improved overall rigidity will undoubtedly please luxury SUV clientele, as well as the off-roading fraternity.

But what of the plug-in hybrid powertrain, then? Well, the report claims that Mitsubishi, which already offers the Outlander in that configuration in some markets, will equip the new Pajero with a 2.4-litre 4-cylinder petrol engine combined with a pair of electric motors. The optimal electric-only range is expected to be about 75 km, which is more than the 65 km of Outlander PHEV, the report says.

Seven years seems like an eternity in car-design terms (that’s how long the Concept GC-PHEV has been around), but then again, the Pajero’s overall shape, much like that of the Toyota Land Cruiser Prado (and its bigger brother, the 200), Range Rover and Mercedes-Benz G-Class seems to the relentless onslaught of time.

Therefore, the next-generation Pajero is bound to retain the current model’s overall blocky shape with short overhangs and a bluff front end. We imagine the concept's "Dynamic Shield" front-end treatment, with the overt chromed grille with a trio of crossbars is bound to be retained.

Spyder7 further suggests the next Pajero will incorporate the Concept GC-PHEV’s enlarged three-quarter lights, adopt a side character line that “follows the flow of Mitsubishi cars” and the shape of the tail-light clusters will be more akin those of the facelifted Pajero Sport’s “vertical design with the aim of improving rear visibility… (the rear-end) is likely to (look) quite aggressive and powerful.”

If Mitsubishi seeks to evolve the next-generation Pajero into a Premium SUV – the new Defender, capable as it is, has also moved upmarket, for example – it makes sense that the petrol-powered derivative would be offered with hybridisation (plug-in or otherwise) for the sake of fuel economy and, of course, remaining competitive in a cut-throat luxury SUV market... 

We would not be too surprised, however, if Mitsubishi also retained the 3.2-litre turbodiesel and 5-speed automatic transmission, in conjunction with the current model's proven off-road underpinnings and onboard systems, to appease seasoned off-roaders. After all, the Pajero nameplate has a lot of brand cachet in off-roading circles... Mitsubishi will, in all likelihood, be keen to leverage that. We guess that's why the ladder-frame construction will live on... 

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