PAJERO SPORT: FIRST DRIVE

Four wheel drivers of Australia, we have good news. There’s another serious touring 4X4 on the market.

Mitsubishi has had a long and storied history in the off-road scene. The Pajero was one of the first vehicles to marry serious off-road capability with family-friendly dynamics at an affordable price, and today there are many owners who are on their fourth, fifth or even sixth Pajero. They’re rugged, they handle well, and while not ‘up there’ with the very best for off-road performance – the famous ‘Pajero salute’ is well known – they’re more than good enough for everyone bar the hardcore. Oh, and there’s all those Dakar wins, too.

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But the Pajero isn’t the only 4X4 in the Mitsubishi stable. There’s also the Challenger: One of several ute-based wagons. Basic, capable and cheap is what these wagon-utes are all about, and the Challenger was no exception. Didn’t matter, as us touring off-roaders don’t care much for luxury (particularly if it gets in the way of capability), so the Challenger found many a home with those looking for no-frills 4X4 fun.

 

But now the Challenger is no more. In its place, all hail the Pajero Sport. The name is similar to the bigger brother – but it’s a different vehicle. There are coils all round, independent suspension at the front; but the rear is a beam axle much beloved of traditionalists. It’s a slightly smaller vehicle (115mm shorter, but the Pajero has a rear-mount spare), 60mm narrower and 100mm lower in height. Some overseas variants are seven-seat, but it looks likely we’ll get five seats only as Outlander and Pajero both offer seven. And because none of you lot apparently care about petrol or manual transmissions, our sole option will be turbo-diesel auto. Mitsubishi says less than 5% of Pajero customers opt for manuals, so why bother?

 

Towing capacity is 3,100kg, same as the Triton; whereas the Pajero is 3,000kg (but really 2,500kg once you read the towball mass small print). The engine is a 2.4L diesel good for 133kW and 403Nm, and the gearbox is a smart eight-speed unit so you really will get the benefit of all those horses and Newton metres. The Sport payload is a ‘not bad’ 710kg or so. The exact Australian specs and pricing haven’t yet been announced, so this may change.

 

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