First Impressions: New Mitsubishi Pajero Sport
It’s been a couple of years since Mitsubishi had promised us the launch of the Pajero Sport in India. There had been instances, when “confirmed” launch dates had been given out by the Japanese car maker. However, the rising Yen meant that the SUV would never make it to the market at a lucrative price point, which in turn resulted in HM backing out at the last moment.
But things have moved along since then. The official unveiling is over; the prices of the Pajero Sport are finally out; moreover,one can finally own a Pajero Sport in India.With all that done, we find out if the Pajero Sport has enough go to match its show.
If the Toyota Fortuner was a little too bulky for you, wait till you see this one. The front gets that typical Mitsubishi rally sport treatment that we all saw on the previous-gen Outlander. Adjacent to the grille are a set of attractive clear-lens headlamps that house the projector beams.
By the looks of it, you’d think it has Xenons too – but don’t be fooled, those are just halogen projectors. The front bumper helps the car with its butch look. It carries heaps of muscle and gives the SUV a great road-presence. From the side, the Pajero Sport looks rather boxy and may not appeal too many.
It does get flared wheel-arches that house the bulky 17-inch rims, but overall it still doesn’t cut-it. At the back too the look is rather toned-down. The tail-lamps draw inspiration from an Alfa-Romeo, which to me looks a little out of character. You’ll be shocked, but the rear doesn’t carry any badges except for the Mitsubishi emblem. I like! Overall, the looks of the Pajero Sport are subjective. While I thought it looked great from a few angles a few of my friends thought otherwise.
Get inside, and it’s an understated mix of black, beige and silver materials. Those familiar with the inside of the Outlander will feel at home in the Pajero Sport; the layout and design of the dash is similar and a lot of the parts including the steering wheel withintegrated controls for the audio unitis shared with the Outlander.
A small MID unit above the music playerdisplays the different all-wheel drive settings, time and temperature. We didn’t get an opportunity to play around with the all-wheel drive settings, as our run mainly consisted of city driving.
However, a little fiddling around brought the screen to the inclination mode that showed the angle of inclination, while on a slope. The Pajero Sport gets a host of other such features which includedriver and passenger airbags, ABS with EBD, a leather-wrapped gear knob, a USB-equipped music player and even a low-ratio gearbox for better off-road ability. An added bonus is the extra row of seats which makes the Pajero a seven-seater.Talking about the build quality of the interiors, it is a cabin that looks and feels premium. Everything in the interior has a high-quality and solid feel to it. There’s barely a rough edge or an ugly parting line thathints of poor craftsmanship. Summing-it-up, the interiors are built to last.
Since we are all familiar with the Pajero branding, our expectations from the SUV were already set high. However,The Pajero Sport you see here isn’t even remotely related to its predecessor.
Just like some of its rivals, the Pajero Sport is also based on one of the pick-up trucks from the company’s international line-up the Triton. Built on a Ladder-frame chassis, the driving dynamics of the Pajero Sport are distinctly old-school.
The suspension is soft,which gives the SUV a decent amount of body-roll. Steering-feel is almost non-existent and with that comes a fair amount of under-steer. Under the hood, the Pajero gets a 2.5-litre 16-valve intercooled turbocharged diesel heart producing 178PS and 400 Nm of torque. It comes with Mitsubishi’s rally-proven shift-on-the-fly Super Select 4WD and anextraordinary 215mm ofground clearance that gives it terrific off-road capability.
The 2.5 liter motor is mated to a 5-speed manual transmission with gears ratios to match both on and off road driving.What the engine has is good bottom-end grunt which makes the Pajero Sport a breeze to drive in the city traffic. Performance too is decent, as the SUV managed three-digit speeds in under 15-seconds. Overall, you wouldn’t be dissatisfied with its performance, regardless of the terrain you take it on.
Start up the turbocharged 2-and-a-half Liter common-rail direct-injection engine, and you hear it come to life from inside the cabin. As the engine settles into a nice idle, you do feel a fair bit of vibrations and clatter creep inside the car.
The coarse-hum of the oil-burner is quite evident while driving at low RPM’s. However, once you are off the mark the vibrations settle down a bit. We didn’t stress the motor much, and hence we don’t yet know how the 2.5 liter motor reacts at really high speeds. But on our short drive, the Pajero felt decently refined despite a few of its short-comings. Overall, the NVH levels do seem a little irritating and there still a little scope for improvement.
Mitsubishi may have hit the right notes with the packaging of the Pajero Sport, but just like the Montero it seems to have missed out on the pricing quotient. With a rather optimistic price-tag of Rs. 23.53 lakhs, the Pajero Sport seems a little too overpriced for what it actually offers. A look at the Toyota badge, excellent service network, Fortuner’s looks and it’s already game over for the Pajero Sport. While the Pajero Sport will currently be available as a CBU, Mitsubishi is looking into the possibilities of it being assembled-locally to cut costs. Keeping that in mind, the future of the Pajero Sport strictly depends on the intensity of that price-slash. With its current wafer-thin dealership network and a not-so premium after-sales servicing by HM, the Pajero for now leaves a lot to be desired for its price.
Installation: Front, Longitudinal
Max. Engine output, kW (PS) @ rpm:131 (178) @ 4000
Max. Torque, Nm @ rpm: 400 Nm at 2000 – 2500 rpm
CHASSIS & BODY:
Construction: Body on ladder frame, five-door SUV
Tyres: 265/65 R17
Type: All-Wheel Drive (Super-Select)
Gearbox: 5-Speed Manual
Model: Floor Shift, Manual operated, Synchromesh
Ex-Showroom (Delhi): Rs. 23.53 lakhs
A look at the competition:
With an extensive variant list and a better price approach, the Fortuner makes off as a terrific value for money in this segment.The current segment leader is not only more reliable, but gets a much stronger dealership network. Looks are subjective in this case but with the Landcruiser inspired looks, the Fortuner is sure to attract more eye-balls. Overall, the Pajero Sport maybe a more capable off-roader, but the price difference between the two is still not justified. The Fortuner is available in 3 variants: 4×2 manual, 4×2 Automatic and 4×4 manual.
Hyundai Santa Fe:
Comparing the Santa Fe and the Pajero Sport would be more like comparing a MIG-29 to a Boeing 737. The Pajero Sport is obviously more capable as an SUV, but the latter packs more comfort. Considering, not many buyers have an appetite for off-roading the Santa Fe makes off as a brilliant buy in this segment. It not only gets more kit, but with an optional automatic transmission ‘seth-ji’ would be more pleased to drive it.
When it comes to off-roading, the Endeavour has been the sole-contender in this segment for a very long time. The Fortuner obviously did pull-away a few buyers from it, but despite that the Endeavour has set a benchmark of its own. Choosing between the two would strictly depend on one’s budget.
The Endeavour being a whole lot cheaper misses out on some equipment and hence on paper it may seem a little overpriced. But for an enthusiast who is looking for a car that delivers on slush as well as on tarmac, the Endeavour is a brilliant buy. The Pajero is definitely not worth the stretch but considering that the Endeavour will soon be getting a replacement, it is more practical for the longer-run.
The Koleos is probably the only car in this segment that makes the Pajero Sport look like one of the cheaper offerings in this segment. It not only costs MORE than the Pajero Sport but gets so much extra kit for its price that all other others feel a whole lot cheaper than what they cost. Compare the BOSE audio unit that one gets on the Koleos to the single-DIN unit on the Pajero and things start getting one sided already.
However, just like a few of the other SUV’s in this segment, the Koleos is more of a soft-roader and may not be an ideal option for your mud-plugging expedition. So choosing between the two would strictly depend on one’s preferences.