Mitsubishi might be a pale shadow of its former self but their greatest hits back catalog still has some prized – and revered – name plates. Lancer, particularly when suffixed with Evolution, will get every petrol heads’ unwavering attention; rallyists in India will brook no trash-talk of the Cedia; and off-road enthusiasts still whisper Pajero in respectful tones. Yet nobody, not even enthusiasts, buy Mitsubishis anymore and the reason is simple: everything is dated, overpriced, burns the wrong fuel and have long since lost relevance to the Indian market.
However just when things looked beyond salvage the strongest nameplate in the cupboard has been dusted out, polished and given a fresh lease of life. The Pajero Sport, unlike what the name suggests, has nothing to do with the Pajero, Montero or all those Repsol-liveried, Ralliart-fettled, Dakar-conquering machines – this is a completely different SUV line designed for the rough and tumble of emerging markets. In fact the design, engineering and underlying ethos have more in common with the Toyota Fortuner than any other Mitsubishi. Like the Fortuner which is based on the Hilux pickup platform the Pajero Sport too shares its platform with the Triton pickup. And just like Toyota who have concentrated manufacturing of the Hilux, Fortuner and its derivatives in Thailand (not Japan) to keep costs in check so too is Thailand the mother plant for the Pajero Sport from where completely built up units will be initially imported with CKD operations set to commence in Chennai from September.
Mitsubishi Pajero Sport is built on the platform of company’s light pick-up trucks which are sold in bulk in Thailand. In fact, the company designers have lifted the nose structure as it is from its rally car, the Pajero Evo. The Chrome plated vertical bar type front grille is integrated adjacently with the projector beam headlamps which come with a functionality of self-leveling. The fog lamps right under the headlamps is a big turn on. The enormous wheel arches on both sides that have 17×7.5 JJ Alloy wheels; go well with the overall front fascia of the SUV.
Beneath the front bumper, there is plenty of space due to the enlarged ground clearance of 215mm in the SUV. The Japanese auto-major has executed chrome pretty well with certain sections of the SUV like the chrome-plated power door mirrors and door handles strike the right chord and provide a bit of much needed sophistication and plushness to the SUV unlikely of its stony exterior appearance. Additionally, black roof rails, high-mounted stop lamp at rear, chrome-plated rear license plate garnish, colour-keyed side protector mouldings, etc. are like icing on the cake.
Open the heavy door and climb into the car and you will appreciate the build quality of this vehicle, the Pajero Sport showing a lot of solidity. When you close the door, there is a massive thud too and quality levels are very good. The dashboard is nice but there are just too many colours on it, the dash is a dual-tone black and beige unit while the centre console gets wood finish and the centre AC vents gets a silver surrounding. There is no digital climate control on this Mitsubishi which is shocking of course but there is decent amount of kit on offer like projector headlights (for the low beam only), puddle lamps on each door, illuminated key ring, electric driver seat adjustment, leather seats, rear parking sensors, reverse camera, Bluetooth connectivity and a touch-screen audio system with Navigation along with the usual iPod, USB, AUX and CD options. Right above the infotainment screen is a multi-information display (not in the instrument cluster) which displays average speed, fuel efficiency, range, date, outside temperate and elevation.
Somethings do look like an after thought in this cabin, like the mic for the Bluetooth and the speaker for the same, it’s exposed, both the mic and the speaker making this look like an after market job. There are plenty of storage bins inside the cabin, the glovebox has good depth (although it isn’t much wide) and it gets a lock too. Other storage areas include a box below the AC controls on the centre console, under the front centre arm rest, two cupholders next to the handbrake, sunglass holder on the roof but there is no magazine pocket behind the driver’s seat. The door pockets are a tad small and 1-litre bottles will be a tight fit on the front doors while the rear doors have been shaped in a way (have an inward scoop) that they can easily take a litre sized bottle.
The Mitsubishi Pajero Sport has comfortable seats which coupled with the airy cabin (due to large windows and beige seats) makes this car a nice place to be in for long journeys. The front two rows are high on comfort with the middle row having ample legroom too, it also gets coat hooks next to the grab rails. Under thigh support isn’t a problem in the first row but a bit lacking in the second row and very bad in the last row, where you have to naturally climb in to get in. While headroom is good all throughout, the last row only has average legroom, making it best for children. There is a slight hump in the floor in the second row and there are only two headrests in this row, so it’s best used by two people, making the Pajero Sport a good four seater. Cup holders and storage space is on the right side in the last row. The AC vents are roof mounted and controls are placed in the second row but the master AC switch for the rear is placed too low and out of sight on the dashboard. Boot space is lacking with all three rows up but you can flip forward the second row and flat fold the third row completely to boost luggage space. There is also a power socket in the boot.
This model series is available with a commanding 2.5-litre diesel mill that has the displacement capacity of 2477cc. It is based on a double overhead camshaft valve configuration. It has four cylinders that are further fitted with sixteen valves. This mill is integrated with a common rail direct injection system that helps in returning a decent fuel economy. This intercooled turbocharged power plant enables it to pump out a maximum power of 175.56bhp at 4000rpm, which is quite good. At the same time, it yields a peak torque output of 400Nm in the range of 2000 to 2500rpm, which is rather good considering the road and traffic conditions in India. This vehicle is offered with a two gear box options for the customers to select from, which are five speed manual as well as automatic transmission gear box that makes gear shifting quite easier.
The automaker is offering this model series with the same diesel power plant that has a common rail fuel injection technology. It is currently available with both manual and automatic transmission gearbox options for the buyers to choose from. Its manual version has the ability to produce a maximum mileage of 13.5 Kmpl on highways, which goes down to a minimum of 11.5 Kmpl under city traffic conditions. However, its automatic version can deliver a mileage in the range of 10 to 12 Kmpl.Its diesel engine comprises of 4-cylinders that further have 16-valves and is based on a DOHC valve configuration. Both the manual and automatic versions have the ability to produce a maximum power of 175.56bhp that yields a commanding torque output of 400NM, which is rather good.
The 4×4 vehicle with manual gearbox reaches up to100 kmph speed within just 11 seconds and clocks a maximum speed in the range of 190 to 195 Kmph. The manual variant returns a mileage of 13.5 kmpl on highways and around 11.5 kmpl in city traffic conditions. On the contrary, 4×2 version with 5-speed automatic gearbox has the capacity of breaching 100 kmph speed mark within just 12 seconds and reach up to a peak speed of 190 Kmph. This variant offers a mileage within the range of 10 to 12 kmpl.
This giant vehicle is equipped with a reliable suspension system that ensures maximum stability and balance on any road conditions. The front axle is integrated with a double wishbone while the rear one is fitted with a 3-link coil spring type of system. In order to avoid uneven road jerks, this car is loaded with stabilizer bars.Further, 16-inche ventilated disc brakes are mounted on the front wheels, which are hydraulically operated with two circuits. The rear wheels are equipped with a set of 16-inche ventilated drum-in-disc brakes, which are hydraulically operated with split brake. All these features ensure prompt and enhanced braking experience. Not just these, Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) and Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) are featured in this variant for enriched braking mechanism. This utility vehicle is loaded with a torsion-resistant rigid ladder frame for enhanced stability and ‘With on-demand 4WD’ for sure traction. The beams provide added protection to the occupants in case of collision.
The automaker has loaded this sports utility vehicle with many vital aspects that will offer protection to all its passengers and the vehicle as well. There are dual front SRS (supplemental restraint system) airbags offered, which minimizes the injury in the event of a collision. Its has an extra strong body construction that is built using high tensile steel at crucial locations, which makes it rigid. Another aspects is the electronic engine immobilizer, which prevents any unauthorized entry into the vehicle and protects it from theft. It also includes side impact protection beams and crumple zones, which helps it to absorb jolts caused in case of a collision. This vehicle is integrated with several advanced features like an anti lock braking system with electronic brake force distribution, three point ELR seat belts, collapsible steering column and anti intrusion brake pedals that further enhances the level of security.
The Mitsubishi Pajero Sport is by far the most under-rated vehicle in its class. Sure there are issues with the way Mitsubishi and its laid back partner, Hindustan Motors has gone about handling business in the country but as a product, the Pajero Sport is a fine vehicle, deserving much applaud. This vehicle is very well engineered, packs in a lot of comfort and has a visual appeal that shouts SUV. With a good diesel engine under its belly and a terrific ride quality, the Pajero Sport comes across as an excellent alternative in the segment, the automatic version only broadening this two ton vehicle’s appeal even further.