Mitsubishi might be the brand that you’re always forgetting exists if you live in North America, but it still offers a wide range of products in other markets. The company sells the Pajero SUV in some 90 countries around the world, and a new sport version is now being built. The Pajero Sport is being built in Thailand and will be sold in all of the important markets that aren’t North America, Western Europe or China. This means Australia, India and Russia will all get it, and will undoubtedly be our source for information and reviews once the car hits showrooms.
Though the new SUV has the word “sport” right in its name, this isn’t exactly an Evo-style step up from the base model. Much of the purported sportiness comes from the styling, but there are some serious improvements and the Sport is a genuinely more capable vehicle than the regular model, just don’t be tempted to think of it as being able to take on a 2015 BMW X5 M on the road. A good deal more attention is paid to making the vehicle more comfortable than the regular Pajero as well, and there is a much more clear distinction between the regular model and the Sport than there has been in previous generations.
DESIGN AND STYLE ;
This series is arguably one of the most attractive SUVs available in the car market. Now, the automaker has made a few minor modifications to its exteriors, which gives it a refined look. Both the variants in this series have an aggressive front facade featuring reshaped headlight cluster with black surround. It is equipped with powerful projector headlamps along with turn indicators, which dazzles the front facade. The front windscreen is quite large, which is accompanied by a couple of intermittent wipers and washers. The bonnet is quite expressive owing to its expressive lines. This latest version is fitted with a redesigned radiator grille that is elegantly decorated with expressive chrome strips and company’s insignia. Below this, the radiator grille too has been revamped with pronounced air dam and modified fog lamp console. It is further fitted with an aluminum protective cladding, which gives it a rugged look. The side profile remains mostly identical to its outgoing model. It has well molded wheel arch that are fitted a set of stylish multi-spoke design alloy wheels. It also has trendy features like black colored window frames including B and C pillars along with chrome plated door handles. The carmaker is offering the 4x2AT trim with chrome plated ORVM caps, which are incorporated with turn indicators. In addition to this, its doors have been decorated with model name sticker, which adds to its elegance. Furthermore, there is an aluminum foot step with rubber studs, which makes it convenient to ingress and egress. Its rear profile too remains to be similar to its earlier version but the AT version gets 4×2 badging in chrome. Its boot lid is quite expressive that houses a license plate console along with a chrome strip. Furthermore, it is also embedded with company’s insignia, which emphasizes its SUV look. Its tail light cluster gets a minor tweak with black wraparound and is equipped with powerful brake light along with turn indicator. The rear bumper has a plain design but it is fitted with a body colored protective cladding along with a pair of courtesy lamps. Its windscreen is quite large, which is accompanied by a wiper along with a spoiler, which gives it a stylish look.
CABIN AND COMFORT ;
This robust SUV is integrated with numerous stylish and utility interior features. It has ample cabin space and offers comfortable seating for seven people. The classy dashboard has a glove box compartment along with a centre console. This unit houses a stereo system for the purpose of entertainment of passengers. It supports CD, MP3 player and USB connectivity as well as has six quality speakers for enhanced experience. The steering wheel has audio control, which makes it easier to operate system while driving. In the latest version of this model, an advanced touchscreen infotainment system is incorporated along with navigation facility. The sporty beige leather upholstery covered seats are arranged in three rows and are well-cushioned as well as comfortable. To give an appealing look to its interiors, chrome garnished combination meter cluster, lever type parking brake and inside door handles are fitted. Various utility features including a cargo floor box, two coat hangers, front door storage pockets, sun glass holder and a power outlet are available. A number of advanced features are also available which include power windows, adjustable headrests, centre armrest, front sun visors, reverse camera, door courtesy lamps, vanity mirrors, automatic AC system and manual air conditioning unit for rear passengers.
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION ;
The Pajero Sport’s 2.5-litre diesel may be smaller than its competitors, but what it loses in capacity it more than makes up for in specific output. Its 176bhp is very similar to the 168bhp put out by the Toyota Fortuner’s larger 3.0-litre engine and acceleration and performance are pretty similar as well. The Mitsubishi’s variable-geometry turbo has been tuned with performance in mind and after a small amount of vibration and some initial lag, power is delivered in a strong and steady stream all the way from 1800 to 4500rpm. The engine feels very smooth in the mid-range, there is considerable punch when you keep your foot pinned down, and after 100kph the Sport pulls away from its rivals with effortless ease. The engine is also particularly effective on the highway. As long as you are somewhere in the mid-range, there’s always plenty of punch available for overtaking. And because the motor always seems to have more to give, performance really does feel quite effortless. This is clearly Mitsubishi’s best diesel engine yet. What’s also impressive is the integration of the gearbox, the short gearing masking a bit of the turbo lag. The gearbox does have a typically long throw, but it’s light to operate and gears slot in perfectly every time. This helps when you want to go a gear lower in traffic.
RIDE AND HANDLING ;
The Mitsubishi Pajero Sport isn’t your usual SUV, it’s very off-road oriented which is obvious the moment you see the car’s wheels and visibly tall springs. Thus ride quality is excellent, although a bit stiff at low speeds, it does take all in its stride with amazing confidence. The Apollo Apterra HT tyres (the wheels have 6 bolts) offer good grip too. The brakes have good stopping power and help halt this massive SUV in quick time. Mitsubishi has given the automatic version drum-in-discs at the rear while the manual uses a drum with trailing shoes set-up.Before we get to the handling of this SUV, let’s first get well acquainted with the view from the driver’s seat. You have a very commanding position and an excellent view of what’s around you, the steering wheel is nice to hold and the rearview mirrors are big, giving an excellent view of what’s behind. But the steering is heavy at low speeds, requiring some effort to manoeuvre the car at city pace although it does weigh up decently when you get going faster. This vehicle uses a body-on-frame chassis which along with its height makes it quite top-heavy so body roll is abundant and one needs to take it easy around the bends.
BRAKING AND SAFETY ;
Mitsubishi Pajero Sport, being a heavy SUV, uses company’s advance braking system, operated hydraulically on all the four wheels. It features 16′ ventilated discs as front brakes while the rear ones are are more compact in the form of 16′ ventilated drum-in-discs. Braking system responds instantly due to the presence of a vacuum booster which is installed for extra protection at times of hazardous circumstances. Additionally, there are Antilock Braking System (ABS) and Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD) in accordance with the primary braking system to ensure safe braking and prevent skidding of the SUV.As far as safety features are concerned, Pajero Sport consists of Dual front SRS airbags for driver and co-passenger. In addition, there is 3-point ELR seat belt, with pre-tensioners and force-limiters, for the front seats while the 2nd row has 3-point ELR seat belt along with a 2-point lap belt, followed by a 3-point ELR seat belt for the 3rd row passengers as well. Apart from the aforementioned safety features, the SUV also carries some significant features like front and rear side door impact bars, RISE body design, electronic immobilizer, crash detection lock door shut down etc. to name a few.
For HM-Mitsubishi and their dealers this is a make or break vehicle – and fortunately for them the Pajero Sport ticks all the right boxes. It is stylish and imposing, the interiors (save for the stereo face plate) are excellent, it is spacious and comfortable, delivers brisk performance (at the expense of a little driveability), has tremendous off-road capability and though it doesn’t handle like a rally-bred vehicle neither do its main competitors. Crucially it offers a fresh alternative to buyers turned off by the Fortuner’s ubiquity.If there’s one fly in the ointment though it is the pricing: Rs 24.62 lakh ex-showroom which, when you add the higher road tax applicable to CBUs (CKD operations only start in September), bumps the price up to Rs 30.06 lakh on-road in Mumbai. That’s over five lakh rupees more than the Fortuner which, slice it as you may, is hard to justify and will prove to be its biggest stumbling block in the months to come.