A month ago or so, you might have seen the comparative test between the Toyota Fortuner 2.4 GD-6 4×4 and the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport 2.4 4×2 – in which I declared the Pajero Sport my favourite vehicle in the segment and one that deserves to do much better in this segment’s one-sided sales race.
This week I have what – admittedly – is the vehicle that should’ve featured in the comparison with the Fortuner, the 4×4 version of the Pajero Sport. OK, the outcome would have been no different, but in all fairness to the Toyota it would have been a pukka apples-for-apples comparison.
Since the only differences between the two Pajero Sports are their drivetrains, here are some of the finer points about the Pajero Sport I didn’t get to mention in that comparative review.
The interior is very nicely done
Notice here the leather-lined door card and arm rest, combined with the piano-black accent and aluminium-look door pull (it is plastic, but the high-quality type) that extends along the dash… The three materials are used throughout the cab – a simple combination that creates a welcome, no-nonsense environment.
The classy feel is found in the details
Once you’ve taken in the pleasing interior adornments, you’ll notice that the classy feel continues in the details – the instrument cluster for example. Two simple chrome-ringed dials, with sharp graphics and needles in white sit ether side of a colour LCD screen that conveys other vital driving information. It looks good, feels classy.
The interior is spacious and practical
No matter in which of the three rows a passenger finds himself, the chances are he won’t want for space or comfort. OK, an adult taller than 1,7 m might find their head brushing the roof lining if he’s right at the back, but there’s very little else to complain about regarding the seating.
Both the second and third row are reclineable and accessing the third row is easy. That’s also true for raising and lowering the third row. Tug on a couple of straps and it’s in whichever position you need…
Boot space with them up is tight, though. Oh, you also get a handy, foldable mat to lay over the seats when they’re flat, so as not to scuff them with whatever manner of SUV paraphernalia you happen to load up.
The front end looks the business
What a bold face: chrome abounds highlighting pronounced cheek bones and a large grille. The LED headlamps extend into the shapely front wings that meld into the high bonnet … from the front this Pajero Sport certainly has the right king-of-the-road SUV image.
It says “I’m powerful, get out of my way” … and making your way along is easy with a smooth, refined 2,4-litre engine that puts out 133 kW at 3 500 r/min and 430 Nm torque at 2 500 r/min. Only the slightly heavier feel due to the 4×4 drivetrain might dull the experience.
The drivetrain is a delight
The Pajero Sport 4×4 uses the same eight-speed automatic transmission as the 4×2. It shifts smoothly and is sharp in its decision making. The driver also has the opportunity to shift with a pair of delightful paddles fixed to the steering column. They’re large, made of metal (not plastic – hurrah!) and operate with a reassuringly solid click.
The Super Select-II all-wheel drive system allows for go-anywhere ability and, in addition to the usual rear diff lock, features a lockable centre differential – which you won’t find in any of its rivals. Downhill Descent Control and Off-Road Mode control are just a push of a button away – further adding to the off-road capability.
However, the Pajero Sport is not perfect…
That rear end…
I’d love to know what happened here … it’s as thought he designers lost interest by the time they got to design the rear of the car. Flat with little definition, and rear light clusters that look like someone with bleeding eyes … it’s as if the designers were reading from the pages of “An Automotive Design Horror Story” the night before hitting the drawing board.
Here’s hoping the facelift remedies that…
You will almost always use the recirculate function
Yes, the function we’re talking about should be enabled for illustrative purposes … so please excuse this journalistic faux pas in this image. However, the fact remains that, as I said in the comparative review, the Pajero Sport suffers from the smell of diesel fumes permeating the cabin when stationary. It’s something Mitsubishi really should find a remedy for.
Other than that, the tri-zone climate control (driver, front passenger, and rear compartment through roof-mounted vents and controls) is effective and simple to use.
The infotainment system needs an upgrade
As with most Mitsubishis, the touchscreen infotainment system fitted to the Pajero Sport feels outdated. It’s a step up from previous versions (fitted to some other vehicles) and features handy hard buttons for quick access to certain functions as well as Bluetooth and USB connectivity, but the voice control system is clunky to use and the graphics could be better for the type and price of vehicle we’re dealing with here.
Satellite navigation would also be a nice addition.
And so, at R599 995 the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport 4×4 is very keenly priced compared to its direct rivals in the Toyota Fortuner 2.8 GD-6 4×4 AT (R639 800) and Ford Everest 3.2 XLT AWD (R645 900). Each is accomplished in its own right – but at the price it’s hard to ignore the Mitsubishi, even accounting for its few foibles.
CyberStoep rating: 7,5/10