The SUV market in SA is well supported, the concept appeals to many for various reasons. Space, off road capability, a feeling of safety and the drivers command position being just a few and manufacturers have certainly covered the market well. I recently spent a week with another contender the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport 4×4.

Its heritage may be the Triton LCV but the Pajero Sport does not reflect the utilitarian origins in its styling. There are definite links to the latest Outlander particularly up front where chrome trim is very evident, LED headlights with washers, and daylight running lights integrate with the new grille assembly. The side profile accentuates the angular styling with enhanced wheel arches housing 18 inch alloys carrying 265/60 R18 rubber. The rear of the vehicle seems to have lost the plot and is definitely not the Pajero Sports best feature, but I guess someone’s got to love it.

The interior utilises lots of hard plastic, but despite the minimal soft touch materials the quality of finish is good. The dashboard and fascia layout is intuitive and ergonomically sound, the new centre console places switchgear and rotary selector for the 4×4 system close to the transmission selector lever.

Features include an infotainment system touch screen, Bluetooth audio streaming, dual automatic air conditioning with rear seat control, electric parking brake and keyless entry with start stop.

The height and reach adjustable steering wheel has switchgear for audio and cruise control, plus transmission shift paddles. Leather upholstery is standard and the driver’s seat is electrically adjustable.  Second and third row seats can be configured to meet all requirements. A 60:40 split for the second row is complimented by tumble action stowage as well as slide and recline. The back seats fold into the floor when not required.

Safety equipment includes ABS, EBD, BAS, ASTC (Active Stability and Traction Control), a Brake Override System (BOS), hill descent control, an electronic off road mode control, auto lights, auto wipers, electro-chromatic rear view mirror, LED high level brake light, rear camera, 6 airbags (driver, passenger, seat and side curtains).

On the road the Pajero Sport performs well, the 2.4 litre turbo charged diesel providing an effortless drive. With 133 kW at 3500 r/min and 430 Nm of torque at 2500 r/min coupled to the Mitsubishi 8 speed automatic transmission with the electronically controlled 4×4 system, the prospective owner is offered the best of both worlds. Ride quality on both tar and dirt is very good,  due mainly to the new multi-link rear suspension providing one of the best rides in this segment.

Off road the Pajero Sport offers several driving modes, 2H, 4H, 4HLc and 4LLc and a rear differential lock plus 215mm of ground clearance and 30 degree approach and 24 departure angles, the vehicle provides the opportunity for some serious off the beaten track adventure. Shifting from 2 to 4 wheel drive can be carried out on the fly up to 100 km/h.

Fuel consumption is claimed at 8.1 l/100km but I managed no better than 10 l/100km.

Overall the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport as a possible alternative to its rivals such as the Toyota Fortuner or the Ford Everest now faces further competition from the recently released Isuzu mu-X. It is a highly competitive segment and the Fortuner is well entrenched. It is a well equipped and quality offering but the Pajero Sport’s pricing is unlikely to swing many potential clients, being higher than the equivalent Fortuner and Everest.

Pricing

Mitsubishi Pajero Sport 2.4 D4 4×4 A/T R619,995

Price includes a 3 year/100,000km warranty and a 5 year/90,000km service plan. Service intervals are 10,000km.

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