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Pajero Sport: 80 years on comes the latest model

  • Decades have passed, but the Pajero rolls on
  • Two models, rear or all-wheel drive available
  • Long history from world’s first AWD
2017 MITSUBISHI PAJERO SPORT: Image: Mitsubishi SA
2017 MITSUBISHI PAJERO SPORT: Image: Mitsubishi SA

MITSUBISHI has been in the all-wheel drive business for 80 years – 11 more than Land Rover (1948) – and even predates the now ubiquitous Jeep which only went into production as an army vehicle in 1941 as a Willys product.

Mitsubishi’s claims the title as the world’s first passenger vehicle with full-time all-wheel drive – its PX33 was launched in 1933. The current Pajero arrived in 1982 and since then, especially through the past couple pf decades, has earned a reputation as a very capable but still luxury on/off roader.

It’s also regarded as an historic master of the Dakar Rally with seven consecutive wins. It also happens to be one of our Editor’s favourite vehicles.

2017 MITSUBISHI PAJERO SPORT: Image: Mitsubishi SA
2017 MITSUBISHI PAJERO SPORT: Image: Mitsubishi SA

It was also, The Corner believes, the only 4×4 capable of shifting from rear- to all-wheel drive at up to 100km/h.

The name comes from Leopardus pajeros, a Pampas cat native to Patagonia but, given its rude meaning in Spanish slang, is also badged as Mitsubishi Montero (“mountain hunter” in the Americas, except for Brazil and Jamaica) and Spain. In the UK it’s the Mitsubishi Shogun. (Read full Pajero history here.)

PRICE LESS THAN 600 GRAND

Accelerate to 2017 and Mitsubishi now has what the brand describes as “an all-new Pajero Sport, a luxurious, purpose-built, sport utility delivering refined driving dynamics similar to many powerful, spacious and luxurious sedans, for a much more favourable price than its peers”.

It South Africa it will retail below R600 000 – just.

“This stylishly designed new-generation Mitsubishi SUV,” Mitsibishi SA says, “has vastly improved driving dynamics, including a class-leading eight-speed auto transmission for rear- and all-wheel drive units – the latter including low-range and Mitsubishi’s latest version of its Super Select 4×4 system which now also has electric off-road operation assistance.”

That involves the electronic selection of transmission settings suited to gravel, mud/snow, sand, and rocks.

2017 MITSUBISHI PAJERO SPORT: Image: Mitsubishi SA
2017 MITSUBISHI PAJERO SPORT: Image: Mitsubishi SA

At the Sport’s heart is a new four-cylinder turbodiesel capable of 133kW at 3500rpm and 430Nm at 2500rpm that turns a new eight-speed auto transmission and the latest version of Mitsubishi’s unique Super Select 4-II AWD.

Gradient descent control is included for auto braking in tough conditions; off-road mode invokes maximum traction on a loose surface.

AUTO WITH ‘SPORT’ MODE

“With a lockable rear differential,” Mitsubishi says, “the Pajero Sport has superior road-holding under any condition, on- or off-road, and is virtually unstoppable.”

The auto transmission has a ‘Sport’ mode for paddle-shift manual gear-shifting on twisting mountain roads, long descents or unusual towing conditions.

“The newly designed Pajero Sport,” its maker says, “is styled to fit confidently with its surroundings. As such, it will appeal to style-conscious individuals looking for a functional, yet luxurious, vehicle for daily use that is capable of family adventure needs.”.

The Sport announces an athletic design with black roof-mouldings, black front and rear mudguards, black windshield mouldings, colour-coded front and rear bumpers and a stylish rear spoiler.

2017 MITSUBISHI PAJERO SPORT: Image: Mitsubishi SA
2017 MITSUBISHI PAJERO SPORT: Image: Mitsubishi SA

Diode-lit and auto-levelling driving lights and daytime running lights along with washers on the AWD are standard. A diode high-mounted rear brake-light adds to emergency lighting.

LADDER-FRAME DESIGN

Nic Campbell, GM at Mitsubishi Motors SA, told The Corner: “Under the new design concept of ‘dynamic cruising off-roader’ Mitsubishi engineers have combined the best of both worlds with the all-new Pajero Sport – an accomplished all-wheel drive sport utility one can confidently show off to the world.”

The car rides on a ladder-frame chassis to absorb all levels of noise, vibration and harshness and give the new Pajero Sport a big-sedan’s ride and handling.

“As far as cabin features are concerned,” Mitsubishi says, “the latest Pajero Sport stands proud against direct competitors – and even some much pricier luxury sedans.”

The cabin is said to offer class-leading comfort and space with generous head and legroom as well as luggage or sport equipment space “for the more adventurous”.

READ MORE Pajero features on Carman’s Corner

Soft leather seats claim to enhance the quality feel of the Sport and the driver’s seat has power adjustment. The second row of seats can be 60:40 split and employ tumble, reclining and sliding functions.

The third row of seats can fold into the floor.

2017 MITSUBISHI PAJERO SPORT: Image: Mitsubishi SA
2017 MITSUBISHI PAJERO SPORT: Image: Mitsubishi SA

Other standard items include keyless start and a multi-function leather-skinned steering-wheel with audio and cruise control, Bluetooth voice control ,and power folding external mirrors.

Crash mitigation and protection features include stability and traction control, anti-lock brakes with electronic pressure distribution, and six crash bags.

Headlights and screen wipers switch on automatically when needed, the rearview mirror is self-dipping, and there’s a reversing camera.

2017 MITSUBISHI PAJERO SPORT: Image: Mitsubishi SA
2017 MITSUBISHI PAJERO SPORT: Image: Mitsubishi SA

Campbell adds: “Something that adds huge value to the new Pajero Sport is that many features, compared to competitors, are included in the price.”

The 2017 Pajero Sport range, Mitsubushi SA says, consists of two high-spec derivatives, 4×4 and 4×2. They are priced at:

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

They will be delivered with a (rather dated these days!) three-year or 100 000km warranty and a five-year or 90 000km service plan. Service intervals 10 000km.

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