THE MITSUBISHI PAJERO SPORT IS THE MOST REASONABLE AND BORING 4X4 IN AUSTRALIA

Pajero Sport GLS Review – Looks like Star Trek

There is a debate raging in my head. On one side there is a pragmatic, reasonable man, who uses fact and logic. This man tells me that the Pajero Sport is a very good vehicle for the money, which can perform a variety of tasks quite well. It’s reasonably powerful and quite fuel-efficient; and it can seat seven with solid off-road capability and modernity.

On the other side of my mottled brain there is a more fickle guy… whose thoughts are largely defined by knee-jerk feelings and emotional reactions. This man despises the Pajero Sport. He sees it as intensely ugly, boring and unrewarding to drive – with a cramped interior and suspension that is only good for the bare minimum. The driveline feels like a lawnmower connected to a giant rubber band, and rear visibility is worse than a porthole in rough seas.

Who’s right? Well, both. And neither. In a roundabout kind of way.

 

PRICING

There’s no denying that the Pajero Sport is very sharply priced. We’ve been driving the mid-spec GLS, which goes for $48,500. The GLX is a $45,000 motorcar, and the Exceed costs $53,000. Across the board, the level of inclusions is quite strong.

Toyota’s Fortuner is a bit more expensive ($47,990 to $61,990); Holden’s Trailblazer ($47,990 to $52,490) and Isuzu’s MU-X ($41,800 to $54,800) are probably the Pajero Sport’s chief competition in cheap mid-sized seven-seaters. Beyond the sticker price, the Mitsubishi drives a lot more value in its inclusions. The GLS is more like a top-speccer with leather interior, auto lights, keyless operation and a locking rear differential.

 

INTERIOR

The interior isn’t a rehashed Triton one either; this one has been really reworked with lots of piano black, nice plastics and buttons. While it’s fleetingly nice to look at, you soon become acutely aware that it’s actually really cramped – with bugger-all storage. The driver’s footwell reminds me of a Pringles tin, and the interior quickly becomes ugly when you can’t find room for your stuff and you keep banging your knees. Visibility towards the back, with the comically-small rear window and raking D-pillar, completely sucks. But hey… you’ve got a reversing camera, right?

Put your stuff somewhere; live through the beeping as the engine starts without you wearing your seatbelt (is that really necessary? Is starting the engine before putting on your seatbelt such a heinous crime, you need to be driven to the gates of insanity with the incessant beeping?); and start driving.

Strangely, the first row is the only one that feels like a leather-and-plastic-lined coffin. The second row is quite spacious, and the third row is pretty good too – especially when you consider the size and wheelbase of the Pajero Sport are both fairly small. It’s important to note that the third row only folds flat when the second row is tumbled forward, which means it’s not as flexible as other vehicles in this segment. When you do dispose of those rows, it opens up a rather cavernous, flat load space (with a 12V plug and tie-down points).

 

ON-ROAD

If I had to pick one word to describe the way the Pajero Sport drives, it would be inoffensive. It’s not bad; nor is it good. The engine gives enough power through the middle of the rev range for acceptable performance; the 8-speed automatic gearbox (although not as smooth and seamless as others) gives good access to everything the 2.4-litre Mivec diesel has got. Push the engine really hard, and it starts to lose its composure. The car steers and rides quite well, but it’s also quick to turn the experience into something like driving a marshmallow when the going gets tough.

It’s not really a problem – but if you’ve got a mind to do some heavy towing or loaded kilometres off-road, you’d want to budget in some firmer shocks at the very least. As a painless and easy commuter, the Pajero Sport does a fine job. But for anything more, weaknesses do start to show up.

 

OFF-ROAD

Off-road, the Pajero Sport is a nimble and effective weapon, once you get used to the poor visibility anywhere other than out through the windscreen. The short wheelbase makes for a great turning circle and decent rampover angle (23 degrees), and the undercarriage is all nicely tucked up away from impacts… save for that big balancing weight on the front of the rear diff. Articulation from the three-link rear end is decent, and a locking rear diff and decent traction control all make up a solid off-roading 4X4. While the driveline doesn’t have much in the way of engine braking (there is HDC), low-range gearing is not bad (2.566 reduction). It’s a relatively narrow vehicle, and while this doesn’t help the cramped nature of the interior, it does help on tight tracks. We managed to bottom ours out over a fairly sharp whoop-de-doo, but we were able to slide over it easily with the rear locker engaged. Traction control systems are good, but they have to be damned good to compete with a good old-fashioned locker.

I was nonplussed when I first looked at the Pajero Sport. In my opinion, the front end is pretty nice but the rear is deadset atrocious. I was nonplussed when I was driving it as well… it’s dynamically quite boring, and the good-looking interior isn’t terribly practical; but off-road performance is quite sharp. The rational part of my mind knows this is a solid car with great features at a sharp price. But that crazy car enthusiast that’s also in there is sad that it didn’t make me care (or think much at all) in the meantime.

 Article from unsealed4x4

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Comments 9

  1. The beeping starts when you engage drive without a seatbelt, not when you start the car. I had a
    triton before this and the improvement in ride and power is quite noticeable.

  2. I have the forerunner to the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport & can say that it, externally, looks like a designer’s nightmare with it’s upswept side windows compared to the simple lines of my 2010 Challenger.
    I have a 5 speed manual and tow a 1000kg off road pop top van without any power or handling problems
    I am a member of a 4WD club and love my Challenger, I find it comfortable to drive, vision is OK except at the front pillar where the snorkel sits which at times (parking etc) causes a annoying sight issue.
    My model is a GL with a diff lock which I believe is not standard on the base model Sport-(/why not??), it was a big selling point to me and I have put it to use when off road. I love my Challenger(It replaced a V6 Rodeo 4WD in 2010) but would not consider a Pajero Sport as a replacement unless they tidied up the external appearance.

  3. i have just bgought a sport the so called poverty model and only recently returned after a trip to melb did about 2200 ks and yes i must agree the car is not perfect but by golly for the price it is a ripper i did not go off rd so the shake down run south was all bitumen and the car performed superbly, returned approx 7/8 lit per 100 was very comfy yes it it not quite as roomy as some of the others however i think that i am in a pretty good position to judge because i have owned an 80 series cruiser a 4.8 patrol i still have a magnificent 100 series cruiser 4.7 v/8 on dual fuel has 200 thous on the clock runs as well as the day i got it so to sum up you bloody journos reckon you are the font of all knowledge when it comes to cars let me say in a nice and friendly way i dont believe you are so there is my little rant forgive the grumbles of an 84 year old grump who is still pulling a 24 ft van with my 100 series king of the rd i think it will outlast me god forbid cheers for now

  4. I drive a 2016 Pajero sports and if you told me a few years ago i would have a Mitsi I would have told you that you are crazy, Having said that I have a spinal problem with many ops and I drove all the vehicles you mentioned plus some more, I found the Mitsi was the most comfortable seating position of them all with out doubt and I drive at min 50 k as I drive out the gate and usually 1 to 1.5 hours at a time. I am 182 cm tall and 85k weight.

  5. I still believe Mitsubishi will never be able to better the original Pajero, except to say an 8 speed gearbox behind the 3.2 litre turbo diesel would make it an awesome 4X4 with economical towing capabilities. This may be a biased opinion as my PAJ has never put a foot wrong in the 7 years I’ve owned it. This includes towing a 2.8 tonne off road caravan around Australia.

  6. Funny that this article is not what the Pajero Sport is REALLY like. I have had m GLS since November 2017, and find that the author of this article has not really done a test, and put in writing perceptions and not reality of what this vehicle is like. I have towed a van, been off-road, and done a whole lot of open road driving, and this vehicle is GREAT. Drives well, tows well, and comfortable over long distance.

  7. If you’re going to write an article on a vehicle as such an authority, you might try being factually correct.

  8. We have owned a Pajero sports for two years with 70000 klm on the clock and have just returned from a 6500 trip towing a two and a half tonne Crusader caravan to Victoria and home via Broken Hill – Cameron Corner and back to Texas. We have been extremly happy with the car and its towing and handling ability, using around 16-17 litres per hundred at an average speed of 90 plus klm per hour .
    It is very happy to find its own right gear if towing in cruse without hunting for gears or using the manual paddle shifters in hilly country is very easy. My fist impressions of the car before we bought it was also the rear quarter glass visibility but this has never never been a problem. The 8 speed transmission works really fine and doesn’t hunt for gears. Seats and comfort real good. We also own a current model Triton twin cab and find both vehicles very good peformers and have had no warranty issues.

  9. Not as much advertising dollars as a Toyota. Nah!Can’t be any good. The Pajero has to be one of the most underrated 4wds out there. Toyota the most overrated and overpriced.
    As a Nissan owner of a D40Navara STX550, Toyota can only pray that Nissan were to stupid or slow to put that engine in the Patrols. If Nissan had , Toyota wouldn’t have been able to keep up. Give Toyota credit, they know how to spin their PR crap, some times aided and abetted by some Journo’s who are obliged to spin the Toyota story after a great Toyota paid junket.

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