The off-roader market is one of the most important to South Africans and if you wish to compete, your product has to be tough-as-nails and offer value-for-money. Currently dominated by the Toyota Fortuner and Chevrolet Trailblazer, this market is hotly-contested between the two. But what if you wanted an alternative, like the Mitsubishi Pajero?
Mitsubish Pajero Sport 3.2 review by David TaylorMitsubishi is stepping up to the plate and reckons its Pajero Sport can match these two. For whatever reason, Mitsubishi is a brand that doesn’t get that much media attention these days. Sure it’s a different story when the latest incarnation of the legendary Evo rally sedan is launched, but even that’s old news now and there’s not much to look forward to.
Not a good start then when it comes to brand awareness and perception. Nevertheless the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport 3.2 DI-D GLS to give its full name looks alright on paper. The vehicle received a gentle facelift in 2012 which brings the design of the front more in line with the rest of the company’s offerings. The interior also received some love in the form of a new instrumentation cluster. It’s not a bad looking offroader and keen-eyed readers will notice it looks a lot like the current Triton bakkie.
Strong diesel motorThere’s a decent 3.2-litre turbodiesel engine and it offers 120kW and 343Nm. It’s not fast by any stretch, but it has enough power to reach the national speed limit without too much effort. What’s interesting to note is this particular engine can work on any diesel. Unlike most modern oil-burning cars which are especially fussy and need special 50ppm diesel, the Pajero Sport can run on even the poorest quality fuel. It’s not the most economical, but you should see around 11L/100km appear on the trip computer.
It has a five-speed manual gearbox, which while adequate, could have done with an extra ratio just for highway cruising. The gearbox has two levers, with the second smaller one controlling the four-wheel drive system.
Decent off-road abilityDid I test out the off-road ability of the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport? Absolutely. It has enough ability to match its rivals when it comes to thick beach sand, dunes and gravel. Ground clearance is rated at 215mm – great for negotiating obstacles and not bottoming out.
One of the Pajero’s strengths is the interior space. There are three rows of seats which are all leather. This means seven people plus luggage can be carried, but note that when the third row of seats is in use boot space is reduced. You can see some thought has gone into ensuring the second and third rows are comfortable as there are numerous cup holders as well as air conditioning vents mounted in the ceiling.
Good level of specificationEarlier I mentioned the new instrumentation formed part of the facelift and this comes with some cool gadgets which will make the enthusiast quite happy. There’s a compass, an altimeter, thermometer as well as your usual trip computer suspects like fuel range and consumption.
Despite it being spacious, the cabin itself feels a little dated which is a pity considering it’s rather comfortable. That said, the materials used are durable and designed to last and easy-to-clean. It still has a decent amount of features such as USB connectivity in the glovebox, keyless entry, and leather steering wheel with multiple functions, park distance control, auto headlights, auto wipers, electronically adjustable driver’s seat and single zone climate control. Safety features include six airbags and ABS.
Summary - Mitsubishi Pajero Sport 3.2Has the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport done enough to be able to rub shoulders with its accomplished rivals? In my opinion, it just about has. While it may not excel in any particular department, it is one of the best all-rounders and does everything reasonably well. It’s a bit big and cumbersome in town though, which some may find annoying. Ask anyone with a large vehicle how challenging it is to park in an urban environment. That said, the Pajero Sport is a good offering from Mitsubishi and the vehicle makes a good name for itself.
View the new Mitsubishi Pajero Sport 3.2
Mitsubishi Pajero Sport - PriceMitsubishi Pajero Sport - R435 900
- Why you should: Good off-road ability, spacious, tough, surprisingly economical.
- Why you shouldn’t: Average looks, huge dimensions some may find daunting in urban situations, tough competition from rivals like Chevrolet and Toyota.
- It would be better if: A modern-looking interior would be nice, as would a sixth gear please.
- Competitors worth checking out: Toyota Fortuner, Chevrolet Trailblazer