Rugged, yet refined, modern and new Pajero bold design reflects his best form. Sophisticated design and technology are not only easier handling, reduce noise and increase safety, but at the same time improve Pajero performance and maximize comfort.
The Mitsubishi Pajero has been around for so long (in automotive terms) it’s certainly nearing retirement age – but it seems that 2014 is the earliest it might get the gold watch.
Given the car has been around with only minor changes for the best part of a decade, cutting-edge technology is not its forte, but it’s not been left completely behind either. The Exceed is powered by the 3.2-litre turbodiesel four-cylinder, which uses common-rail direct-injection fuel delivery to produce 147kW and 441Nm – adequate numbers but down on much of its immediate competition packing 500-plus Newton metres as well as a decent hike in power.
The Pajero is one of the few SUVs running a part-time 4WD system, which is not necessarily a bad thing. It can run in rear (which will possibly save a bit of fuel) or four-wheel drive on the tarmac and can be slipped between the two modes at speeds up to 100km/h.
The driveline also has a rear diff lock which – when teamed with lock centre diff and the electronic traction and stability control bits – means most off-road work is child’s play.
The look has been given a few nips and tucks over the years but there’s no mistaking the big wagon for anything other than the Pajero. The tall five door’s rear door has the full-size spare on the outside, which makes life easier for keeping a decent cargo space, with the third row of seats tucked beneath the boot floor.
Cabin space is good without being great – rear seat space is adequate but the front occupants are placed too close to the doors. The driver is also hemmed in a bit by the dashboard and there’s tilt-only adjustment for the steering, again a sign of the car’s age.
It wears a five-star ANCAP rating and has the ability to run in 4WD on sealed surfaces – something of an advantage when the weather turns nasty. There’s also six airbags (dual front, front-side and curtain airbags), as well as stability and traction control and anti-lock brake systems.
The Pajero is old-school off-roader in many ways – its drivetrain and vital statistics reflect that – so if you drove it on the school run and never got it dirty it would be a waste. It’s no soft-roader. The daily grind in traffic reveals a relatively quiet cabin, but you still know it’s a chuggy four-cylinder diesel providing the horsepower – the drivetrain is smooth but leisurely.
The cabin is comfortable (but not cavernous) and can be filled with noise from the 12-speaker sound system, while the rugrats are placated by by the rear DVD player. The test car had a Milford cargo barrier fitted, which is excellent for occupant safety but makes the third row of seats redundant, unless you moonlight in the prisoner transport industry.
The cargo space isn’t bad but the sub-woofer looks a little vulnerable on the left-hand wall of the boot. The big Mitsubishi needs to be leisurely through the bends too – an X5 it is not – but it becomes far more comfortable as the road surface changes.
Find a rough, loose back-track and the Pajero laps it up; select low-range and lock the rear diff lock in and ity clambers over rutted, rocky tracks with a minimum of fuss. With 225mm of ground clearance, a fording depth claim of 700mm and useful approach and departure angles, the Pajero has maintained its off-road abilities, although the Dunlop Grandtrek rubber on the test car is a jack-of-all trades tyre and was not great on any surface.
Asking not much change out of $80,000 is a big ask for the Pajero, in light of its more modern competition. It’s got some good features and can complete all commuter duties without making life difficult and the retention of off-road ability means it is a versatile machine, but it’s long overdue for replacement.