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Car reviews - Mitsubishi - Pajero - X 3-dr wagon

Launch Story

Mitsubishi logo29 Sep 2006

By CHRIS HARRIS

AFTER an absence of seven years in the market, Mitsubishi will relaunch its three-door short-wheelbase Pajero alongside a revised five-door, seven-seater NS Pajero line-up (pictured above in VRX guise).

The three-door turbo-diesel and petrol R and X models will be offered as part of the refreshed line up, which sees the five-door GLS dropped.

The new long-wheelbase five-door range includes the GLX, sporty mid-range VRX and top-of-the-range Exceed.

The GLX is geared to rural buyers with rear differential lock while the VRX gains colour-keyed exterior, 18-inch alloys, foglights, side steps, spoiler and privacy glass, electric driver’s seat, sports trim and leather-bound controls.

The range-topping Exceed gains full leather, electric front seats, high-intensity discharge headlights with washers, Rockford Fosgate premium audio system, rear seat DVD player, Bluetooth hands-free phone operation and dual-zone air conditioning.

Mitsubishi spokesman, Kevin Taylor, said the return of the three-door was due in part to better pricing for the entry model.

The SWB Pajero R kicks off the range at $40,990, which tops out at $70,990 for the range-topping Exceed.

"When we last sold the short and long-wheelbase models they were very close on price," he said.

"So buyers generally opted for the five-door. That’s why we dropped it."

However, the changing and expanding compact SUV market had prompted Mitsubishi to revisit the short-wheelbase, which is clearly aimed at some top-end Japanese "soft-roaders".

However, compared to these vehicles the Pajero has impeccable off-road credentials with a dedicated low-range in all its vehicles.

A three-door Ralliart version will also be offered but Mitsubishi has said this will only get body kit and visual highlights. There will be no engine modifications.

The new NS Pajero takes an evolutionary approach to styling.

The front end is new, with deeper headlights, cleaner grille and bumpers. The mudguards lose their pronounced "blisters" and combined with the new flatter aluminium bonnet, the off-roader gains a squarer, more contemporary look.

Customer issues with the previous car, like the off-set high-mounted rear spare, and non-operating rear lights, have been resolved.

The spare is now mounted lower and in the centre of the rear door, offering better reward visibility, and all the rear light clusters now operate in their normal positions.

Inside the car gets a new dashboard, improved quality and trim materials as well as better sound insulation.

In the five-door, the car’s third-row rear seats fold flat into the luggage floor while the second row has a 60/40 split and tumble forward arrangement that also fold flat with the floor.

A high-set centre console stack offers clearer controls for the standard automatic air conditioning and audio system. A multi-mode display including trip computer, weather information and compass carries over.

The dashboard is a new "wave-like" design with blue illuminated instruments. A multi-function steering wheel is standard on the R, X, VRX and Exceed while the radio antenna has been integrated into the rear windscreen glass.

Mitsubishi claims 75 per cent of the exterior is all new. Only the roof and door apertures remain the same.

The car uses the same suspension, with substantially revised bushes, damper and spring rate with sharper rack-and-pinion steering that offers a 11.4m turning circle on the five-door and 10.6m on the three-door.

The front suspension remains a double wishbone, coil spring setup and the rear is a multi-link coil spring arrangement.

The car sits on the same 2780mm wheelbase as the previous model but is 70mm longer, 15mm higher and 10mm narrower. The front and rear tracks have been increased 10mm to 1570mm.

Wading depth has gone up from 600mm to 700mm while the ground clearance remains 225mm.

Mitsubishi has thrown a great deal of standard kit at the new car.

As part of its Mitsubishi All Terrain Technology (MATT), all models gain standard active stability control, active traction control, engine brake assist control, super select II AWD, multi-mode anti-locking brakes and hill-hold assist on automatic models.

The rear differential lock is standard on all diesel LWB models and a $500 option on all petrol LWB and SWB models.

Apart from the new styling and interiors, the Pajero’s petrol and diesel engines are more powerful and offer more torque. They are also more economical and Euro 4 compatible.

The 3.8-litre 24-valve V6 MIVEC petrol engine delivers 184kW at 6000rpm and 329Nm at 2750rpm. Power is up 23 per cent while torque has improved 6 per cent. The V6 petrol engine is also LPG compatible.

The new common rail diesel, shared with the just-released Triton, replaces the previous 3.2-litre direct injection diesel (Di-D).

The 3.2-litre CDi 16-valve inter-cooled turbo diesel is quieter and is more efficient than the Di-D engine.

The CDi engine pumps out 125kW ad 3800rpm and 358Nm from 2000rpm.

Both engines can be mated to either a five-speed manual or Mitsubishi’s five-speed INVECS II "smart logic" automatic with a sports mode sequential shift function.

Drive is put to the ground through Mitsubishi’s "super select II" drive train that incorporates all the features of MATT.

The Pajero’s four-wheel drive system can be engaged or disengaged on the move at speeds up to 100km/h and has the full range of serious off-road modes with a locked transfer.

Wheels and tyres sizes are up 1-inch, to 17-inch and 18-inch, depending on the model.

The LWB’s brakes have also been improved. The front ventilated discs are now 333mm, up from 290mm, while the rear ventilated discs are also 333mm, up from 305mm. SWB models get 290mm ventilated front disc brakes and 305mm ventilated rear disc brakes.

Apart from standard ABS with EBD and active stability control R, X, GLS and VRX models can be specified with six airbags, a $1000 option.

Other options include an electric sunroof ($2000), family pack including side and curtain airbags, rear seat DVD player, rear air-conditioning controls and parking sonar ($3000), metallic/pearlescent paint ($300 or $400).

Mitsubishi’s re-inforced impact safety evolution (RISE) body is stronger to provide increased occupant protection.

Both front seats and the two outer second row seats have pretensioners and force-limiters.

To ward off corrosion 76 per cent of the long-wheelbase’s panels are galvanised and 78 per cent of the short-wheelbase.

Mitsubishi did extensive testing in Australia for ABS and ASC tuning, dust sealing and hot weather conditions.

The five-door Pajero will be available from November, to be followed by the two- door in December.

Mitsubishi expects to sell 9000 a year with the bulk of sales, 40 per cent, being the five-door VRX, 34 per cent Exceed and 15 per cent GLX.

The R and X models are expected to account for 11 per cent.

More buyers, 60 per cent, are also expected to opt for the CDi DI-D engine over the MIVEC V6.

The Pajero was originally launched here in three-door SWB guise in 1982 with the LWB arriving in 1984.

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