The Mitsubishi Pajero has a lot of enthusiasts doffing their caps at it. With the Pajero, the Japanese brand’s job was to deliver as much SUV possible at the price. The Pajero Sport is based on light pick trucks that are sold overseas. Back in 2012 when it was launched, it came with a new design and a then-modern common-rail-diesel engine. The idea was to offer a Montero at the price of a Pajero. Does it still appeal in this compact SUV-driven market?
Mitsubishi Cars haven’t made a name for themselves in the Indian market with its SUVs sold over the years. Mitsubishi Cars have made some great cars in the past, like the Evo X, the Eclipse and some great, hugely capable SUVs as well. However, the brand has shifted its focus to EVs for the modern era. Their SUVs, in particular, have been built like walls and if there’s a company that knows what hardcore off-roading is, it is Mitsubishi.
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The front-end of the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport looks identical to that of the old Pajero Evo rally-spec car. The headlamps and the grille are all set in one narrow band, while the huge wheel arches give it some muscle on the sides. It gives the SUV a rugged look. It gets slender tail lamps at the back and the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport sits tall on those massive tyres.
Compared to today’s SUVs however, the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport looks dated and old school in almost every way, and to some extent, looks disproportionate as well. Dig in and you’ll find that it has been based on a modified Triton truck chassis, on top of which sits the engine, gearbox, body and transfer cases. Up-front, the SUV gets double wishbones and anti-roll bars at the front and rear, plus a non-independent rear that gets a three-link setup. The Super Select transfer case lets the driver shift from two-wheel drive high to four-wheel-drive high while doing speeds of up to 100kph. Also, the centre differential can be locked.
Well built and spacious
Inside the Pajero Sport, you’ll notice that the dashboard is well built with different textures and colours, but the quality is good only in certain areas. There is a leather-wrapped steering wheel, door pads that look quite good and a central console featuring a multi-information display.
A powered function is available on both front seats, while comfort and support is quite good as well. In the second row, there is lots of legroom even for tall occupants. Second-row passengers can also adjust the backrest angle and visibility from the rear is reasonably good. We did, however, find seating a third passenger in the middle a squeeze, perhaps because of the narrow cabin. Getting into the third row is not a problem since the middle-row seats flip forwards with the help of a lever. However, space here is best only for kids. There are lots of storage places in the cabin too.
Still has the punch
The Pajero Sport is powered by a 2.5-litre diesel engine, producing 176bhp. Acceleration is very similar to that of the previous-generation Fortuner. The variable-geometry turbo has been tuned keeping in mind performance; there is some initial turbo lag though. Power delivery is strong and it pulls up to 4500rpm. The engine is smooth and it delivers a good punch for as long as you have your foot to the floor. Once you’re past 100kph, this beast pulls away without any fuss. It overtakes easily as well and we think this is one of the brand’s best engines so far. The short gearing hides some turbo lag, and the gearbox is light in action.
Ride quality is fantastic, thanks to the tall springs. This SUV can gobble up the biggest potholes for breakfast and the suspension seem to soak it all in with aplomb. This is one of those machines that will enjoy treading uneven surfaces for miles together without breaking into a sweat. The Sport remains stable in a straight line and it feels very composed at three-digit speeds; it changes directions well too and brakes let you shed speed effortlessly. The steering feels nice to be in control of, but it gets heavy at parking speeds. Up the pace, however, and things get better. There’s a good amount of grip available around corners and there is a reasonable amount of feedback from the steering, but confidence takes a hit because of the tall springs.
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A true Sport?
Even today, in this age of modern, feature-packed SUVs, you can buy yourself a brand-new Pajero Sport. For those of you who love it for its vast capabilities, its strong diesel motor and comfortable cabin, the Pajero Sport is sure to keep the Mitsubishi off-road enthusiast in you alive. It is cheaper than most SUVs its size, but you get that much lesser too. It is also available with an automatic gearbox, making it easy to drive in the city. We just wish Mitsubishi brought in the SUV in an all-new avatar.
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