Car reviews - Mitsubishi - Pajero Sport - range
Cabin refinement, torque spread, clever auto, versatile 4WD system, cargo space, off-road ability, pricing.
Room for improvement
Rear end looks, small fuel tank, narrow front footwell, thick D-pillar.
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3 Dec 2015
SPORTING the new-look face of the brand, the Pajero Sport cuts a sharp figure from the front, but it is the curtailed rump that is more polarising.
Some like the vertical tail lights (which are reminiscent of the Jaguar XJ) and the receding rear, while others are less enamoured with a look that mimics the cabin line of the Triton.
Exercising its off-road ability in sand hill runs near Newcastle with just under half the normal road pressures in the tyres, the new Mitsubishi had little trouble traversing in low range.
The electronic brain of the 4WD system directs traction to good effect and the eight-speed automatic transmission was similarly impressive, for both its smoothness and ratio selection, plying the available torque well in the sandy terrain.
The new Thai-built wagon rarely felt under stress and felt unlikely to get into any sand-based strife, provided it was driven with the appropriate care and finesse.
The first highway leg showed impressive refinement, with very little wind or engine noise well-muted for those in the cabin.
At the posted 110km/h speed limit the Pajero Sport was ticking over just under 1800rpm in top gear, with the average nearer to seven litres per 100km, a number which rose to 9.0-litres during the off-road section and topped out at 9.4L/100kmTraffic snarls were not going to help the fuel economy figure either (given the absence of stop-start), but at the end of the drive program we clocked a 9.0L/100km figure - a larger fuel tank would be a worthwhile consideration for the model update but the fuel use is not intolerable given the nature of the journey and kerb weight.
The cloth-trimmed base model was chosen for the second off-road section, which covered rutted rocky fire trails and faster unsealed roads the features list is trimmed of the automatic wipers and headlights, heated front seats, dual zone climate control and a rear differential lock, but the latter wasn't missed during the off road sojourn.
Unlike some rivals with a similar number of ratios, the eight speed is well calibrated and makes good use of the 430Nm of torque, resisting the temptation to hunt through the gears too frequently.
The base model's cloth trim didn't degrade the overall cabin feel from the mid and high-spec leather trimmed cabin, and the base model's impressive standard features list would suggest it will gather plenty of business.
Front occupants get access to the touchscreen controls for the app-based infotainment system, which is far more user friendly than previous Mitsubishi systems.
Head and legroom are adequate, although width at the knee level has been sacrificed for the sake of styling.
The centre console's chrome-look edges continue up into the dashboard and down the transmission tunnel and perhaps should have been halted before reaching the tunnel, for a little extra width in the knee region.
Rear seat head and leg room is sufficient to seat the 191cm driver, although the high floor means knees are raised further than ideal, but four average sized adults would be well accommodated.
Cargo space is considerable at 673 litres and is marred only by the absence of a powered tailgate, something that's fast becoming commonplace in the segment.
The driver is well catered for, with good sized mirrors (including blind spot warning on the Exceed), something that's handy given the rear three-quarter vision is restricted by the rising window line and thick rear pillar the standard rear camera and sensors range-wide does offset that to some extent.
The two USB ports, an HDMI input and the second 12-volt outlet within the centre console are a little difficult to access, but once hard-wire-connected the phone system offers easy access to the smartphone features, including dictating SMS and app-based navigation.
The off-road component of the drive program also showed the Pajero Sport is not afraid of getting mud in the wheel arches, with minimal complaint over rougher fire trails and little in the way of scrabbling for grip despite compromise "all-terrain" tyres.
Good angles and underbody protection (although some components still looked a little vulnerable) meant the rocky rutted tracks were tackled with confidence, with good engine braking from the clever auto's first gear in low range, meaning hill descent control was superfluous to requirements for the steep downhill section.
Mitsubishi's new challenger in the segment starts with a price win, being almost $3000 below the entry-level Toyota Fortuner, the Holden Colorado7 and just pips the Isuzu MU-X base-model by $600.
Ford's more-expensive Ranger-based Everest starts at $54,990, a pricetag higher than that of the flagship Pajero Sport Exceed, which asks $52,750 - the Mitsubishi combatant in this segment has the road manners, towing rating and off-road cred to win it many fans.
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