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2017 Pajero: New transmission reaches new heights

  • Car-like driving dynamics from Dakar king Pajero
  • New eight-speed auto transmission ‘goes anywhere’
  • Super Select 4-II 4WD now with electronic assistance
2017 MITSUBISHI PAJERO Image: Les Stephenson / Carman's Corner
2017 MITSUBISHI PAJERO SPORT: Image: Carman’s Corner

CAPE TOWN, South Africa – Venture into the desert (or in this case as close as you can get to it in Cape Town, the awesome Atlantis inland sand dunes) in a four-wheeled vehicle and your most valuable asset is the transmission.

Speed, mostly, is irrelevant there. As is cornering prowess. Tyres are pretty important (as a rival manufacturer found out some years ago in the same West Coast dunes when every one of its launch event units eventually bogged down).

What really counts these days is the all-wheel drive transmission and the electronic gizmos that take that transmission far further than the mechanical versions of the past.

2017 MITSUBISHI PAJERO Image: Les Stephenson / Carman's Corner
2017 MITSUBISHI PAJERO SPORT: Image: Les Stephenson / Carman’s Corner

It’s more than 30 years since I first drove a Mitsubishi Pajero and, frankly, I’ve been a fan ever since – not only because of the SUV’s comfort, even back then, but because it was the only vehicle at the time that could shift into all-wheel drive at up to 100km/h.

HIGH DUNES, DEEP SAND

Competitors, mostly, had to come to a full stop first, but eventually caught up with the Pajero as electronic control spread across the on/off-road genre until they were all pretty much of a muchness.

There is, of course, also a conventional rear-wheel drive version.

Which is why, a few days ago, I was in a convoy of 2017 model-year Pajeros heading into the dry, slippery and pretty big dunes to the west of the residential and industrial town of Atlantis, some 45km up the West Coast from South Africa’s most scenic city.

The objective: to show journos from the SA motoring media how much the Pajero had improved its off-road, high dunes, deep sand, performance.

The host vehicles: Pajero Sport units powered by Mitsubishi’s latest high-performance MIVEC four-cylinder turbodiesel engine with its 133kW (at 3500rpm) and 430Nm (from 2500rpm) and a sneaky new transmission.

2017 MITSUBISHI PAJERO Image: Les Stephenson / Carman's Corner
2017 MITSUBISHI PAJERO SPORT: Image: Les Stephenson / Carman’s Corner

It’s Mitsubishi’s claimed best-in-class, all-new, EIGHT-speed auto transmission with electronic shift control hooked to the latest version of Mitsubishi’s unique Super Select 4-II all-wheel drive with its new electronic off-road assistance.

It also comes with the now, as far as AWD goes, ubiquitous gradient descent control and a driver-selectable off-road mode.

READ MORE Mitsubishi features on Carman’s COrner

To further enhance the off-road experience provided by the unique Super Select 4-II 4WD system, Hill-Descent Control has been added for additional safety when on dangerous ground. And then there’s the driver selectable Off-road Mode to, as Mitsubishi puts it “maximise traction on unsealed surfaces”.

Such as the hot, fine, sand near Atlantis.

2017 MITSUBISHI PAJERO Image: Les Stephenson / Carman's Corner
2017 MITSUBISHI PAJERO SPORT: Image: Les Stephenson / Carman’s Corner

“The additional electronic assistance,” Mitsubishi explains, “allows the driver to select from Gravel, Mud/Snow,Sand, or Rock settings, each of which adjusts engine output, transmission settings and braking.

“Turn on the lockable rear differential and the new Pajero Sport offers superior road-holding under any conditions, on or off-road.

“It’s almost unstoppable.”

(As proved in motorsport: The Pajero is the most successful vehicle in the history of the gruelling Dakar Rally – 12 wins, seven of them consecutive.)

pajero sport pos 5
2017 MITSUBISHI PAJERO SPORT: Image: Mitsubishi

Well, that was the Mitsubishi promise as the five-vehicle headed towards the deep Atlantis sand on the R27 coastal road making the most of the on-road performance supplied by the eight-speed auto – but also playing with the manual shift on the transmission tunnel and the paddle shifts on the steering wheel.

PLEASURE TO CRUISE

The Pajero is also an excellent intercity express; the eight-speed ‘box allows modest-revs high speed cruising; I’d guess using the paddles will mean fun on a twisting country road but never found out because the R27 from Melkbosstrand to Atlantis is ruler-straight.

Shame, perhaps some other time…

But back to the sand… Nobody got stuck, it was a pleasure to cruise the steep ascents without the engine roaring, to use the descent control on the opposite face and to move swiftly along on the level sections.

MUTED DECORATION

“Historically,” Mitsubishi asserts, “the Pajero brand is synonymous with a soft drive and feel, a quiet cabin, and low levels of noise, vibration and harshness. It’s stylish, too.

“It will appeal to style-conscious individuals looking for a functional, yet luxurious, vehicle for daily use that can also handler family adventure trips. Its styling is distinctive, its cabin spacious, and it can conquer any terrain.”

pajero sport pos 6
2017 MITSUBISHI PAJERO SPORT: Image: Mitsubishi

It’s body decoration is muted: roof rails, black roof mouldings, black mudguards front and rear, black windshield mouldings with a dash of colour both ends on the bumpers, and a rear spoiler.

The diode headlghts are auto-levelling and joined by daytime running lights and washers. There’s a diode high-intensity extra brake light on the tail door.

GENEROUSLY ROOMY

Nic Campbell, Mitsubishi Motors SA’s general manager, explained: “The SUV rides on double-wishbone coil springs with a stabiliser bar up front and multi-link suspension with stabiliser bar in the back. Thanks to its strong ladder-frame design the Pajero Sport has big-sedan ride and handling.”

The cabin, the automaker says, has generous head- and leg-room (though my co-drivers felt it was a bit knee-tight in the back) and good storage, luggage or sport-equipment space. The seats are leather-upholstered,those in the rear able to split 60:40 split , tumble, recline and slide.

pajero sport pos 8
2017 MITSUBISHI PAJERO SPORT: Image: Mitsubishi

Rear parking radar with a camera, auto aircon and rear temperature controls, Bluetooth and power-folding external mirrors are standard – as is an electric parking brake..

Other standard features include: stability and traction control, anti-lock brakes and six crash bags, auto headlights and a self-dimming rearview mirror.

As Campbell said: “Adding huge value to the new Pajero Sport are many features that, in our competitors, attract extra cost.”

MITSUBISHI PAJERO SPORT PRICES

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

The new Mitsubishi Pajero Sport will be delivered with a three-year or 100 000km manufacturer’s warranty and a five-year or 90 000km service plan. Service intervals: 10 000km.

pajero sport pos 9
2017 MITSUBISHI PAJERO SPORT: Image: Mitsubishi

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