1 May 1991
The second-generation Pajero grew up in every direction, gaining refinement, comfort, safety and space advances, as it battled newcomers over the decade from Toyota (4Runner and then Prado), Nissan’s established Pathfinder, ditto Holden’s Jackaroo, Ford’s flaky Explorer and even Ssangyong’s Musso.
New suspension and more sophisticated 4WD systems proliferated underneath the body-on-frame constructed Mk2 Pajero, including high-low transmission ranges with the ability to switch from 4WD to rear-wheel drive for greater off-road ability and on-road driveability.
A wheelbase stretch to 2420mm (+70mm) and 2725mm (+30mm) for the SWB two-door Hardtop and LWB four-door wagon models respectively was incorporated, while the tracks and body heights also increased substantially over the first generation Pajero.
The cabin was also completely overhauled, featuring completely new and a more car-like dashboard and ergonomics – but still with that unmistakable SUV flavour. Equipment levels rose accordingly too.
Base engine was the carryover 79kW/192Nm 2.6-litre Aston 2600 carburettor four-cylinder unit connected to a five-speed manual gearbox.
It was joined by a revised 103kW/234Nm 3.0-litre SOHC 24-valve V6, available with a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission.
For diesel fans, the 2.5-litre intercooled four-cylinder turbo-diesel now delivered 73kW and 240Nm, but it was only available with a five-speed manual.
In November ’93 the facelifted NJ Pajero II arrived, bringing the usual array of minor trim and specification updates.
But there were many engineering changes.
The 2.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine was deleted, two new four-cylinder diesel engines arrived – a 71kW/198Nm 2.8-litre ‘atmosphere’ and a 92kW/292Nm turbo-charged version – while the 109kW/234Nm 3.0 V6 was joined by a 153kW/300Nm 3.5-litre DOHC 24-valve V6 in the top-line Exceed.
The latter was a luxury seven-seater with a four-speed automatic gearbox, anti-lock brakes, cruise control, sunroof, power windows and powered driver’s seat.
October ‘96’s NK facelift brought more trim and equipment changes, but the basic engine offerings stayed the same.
From August ’97, the NL Pajero II was available – the last of the second-generation model’s revamps – boasting revised engines, a nose makeover and upgraded equipment levels, as it strived to fight off the impending new-generation Nissan GQ Patrol and Toyota LandCruiser 100 Series.
The non-turbo 2.8-litre four-cylinder diesel was dropped, replaced by its continuing 92kW/292Nm turbo-charged sibling, while the 3.0-litre petrol V6 vanished in favour of a torquier but less powerful 3.5-litre SOHC 24-valve V6 offering 303Nm and 140kW.
From mid-’99 dual front airbags became standard faire in the NL range, while the SWB Pajero disappeared from late ’99 as Mitsubishi offered the smaller yet unrelated Pajero iO two and four-door wagons in its place.