REVIEW | Why the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport is hugely underrated
You may remember the 90s film How Stella Got Her Groove Back. Played by Angela Basset, the protagonist is a lady past her prime – appeal and sass having dwindled as the years went by. This rings true with the Mitsubishi Pajero too. There was a time when the name held an aspirational value, but the strength of the title has waned somewhat.
We are talking about the original Pajero, available in short-wheelbase and full-sized guises. The stalwart remains on sale, according to the Mitsubishi website, with pricing from R759,995 to R849,995. But is it still at the top of mind among similar off-roaders? Not really. And will it ever be completely revitalised in a vein similar to that of legends like the Land Rover Defender? We hope.
The Mitsubishi Pajero Sport, though, is another story. It competes with the Toyota Fortuner, Ford Everest and Isuzu MU-X and is underrated but oh-so-capable. It definitely goes some way towards restoring sparkle to that Pajero moniker.
In September 2020 it was treated to an update. The new design is bold, with edgy chrome-work, new slim LED-headlights and boomerang-shaped bumper accents. Though they have (slightly) changed those rear vertical taillights, they still remain my least favourite design contribution.
Though well-assembled, there is room for improvement in the cabin. The new eight-inch infotainment-screen, for example, has a poor graphic quality. But it does feature Apple Car Play and Android Auto.
Space is a strong suit, with the option of a seven-seater layout, or the third row folded down for more luggage room.
This came in handy on a recent trip with five ladies in the car, all packed with more luggage than is ever needed. I had to roll my eyes for this one.
Above convenience in space, the comfort throughout the 400km trip was highly noted. Little things like a 12V power socket in the second row for charging were a pleasant surprise.
The Pajero Sport is based on the Triton pickup and employs a proven engine. That is the 2.4-litre, four-cylinder, turbocharged-diesel unit with outputs of 133kW and 430Nm, mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The fuel-efficiency offered by a diesel engine is a perk, especially on long trips. With a heavy load to Mjejane Private Game Reserve at the Kruger National Park, an average of 8.9l/100km was achieved, and we managed the trip to and halfway back on a single tank.
The engine is quiet, especially for a diesel. It rides comfortably on the freeway and is more than up to the task for challenging off-road terrains. Pricing kicks off at R624,995 for the 4x2 and R704,995 for the 4x4 in range-topping Exceed specification.
The marketing team at Mitsubishi need to make a bigger noise about their fighter. Aspirational value is important, and just as Stella got her groove back in the 90s film, so too can the Pajero name.