Words: Alex Rae
Mitsubishi’s Pajero Sport lives in the shadow of the Triton’s sales success, which is nothing unusual for ute-based wagon spinoffs. However, you could still call this an underachiever in that this is one of the best value cars in its class.
Helping its case for buyers this year, Mitsubishi has adopted the Triton’s new narrow-headlight ‘Dynamic Shield’ fascia to the Pajero Sport, and it arguable looks somehow more complete here. But what’s really improved is around back, where the long taillights that polarised some have been cut short and look much tidier. Even if it is just a minor change. Then you look at the side of the car – new alloy wheels and slightly lifted sidesteps, which we’ve been told improve off-road performance from the guy who leads the local ride and handling development program.
The boffins at Mitsubishi have also tinkered inside both the cabin and engine bay, improving storage and technology and the powerplant itself. All in all, it makes the Pajero Sport a very compelling model to consider, and if you don’t care much for seven-seats, leather and technology conveniences higher up the model line, then this base-grade GLX really is good value.
What does it cost and what do you get?
There are three trims to choose in the Pajero Sport lineup: GLX, GLS and Exceed. While GLX is the base model, it’s also the only model to be restricted to five-seats. The GLS offers both two and three-row seating, and the Exceed is a seven-seat only proposition.
All three Pajero Sport models look just about the same outside, with 18-inch alloys, chrome highlights and roof rails across the range. What you don’t see here is a sunroof. Underneath the bonnet is a 2.4-litre diesel turbo engine connected to an eight-speed automatic transmission and four-wheel drive system.
Standard equipment inside the GLX includes fabric trim seats, an 8.0-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, single-zone climate control, AEB, non-adaptive cruise control, and automatic headlights and wipers. You also get Mitsubishi’s current seven-year warranty and two-years free servicing.
Mitsubishi Australia pricing is nearly always set at sharp driveaway deals. Currently, the GLX costs $45,990 driveaway. For comparison, the GLS 5-seat costs $52,490, GLS 7-seat $53,990, and the Exceed is $59,990. You do get a lot of extra equipment in the Exceed though, such as adaptive cruise control, automatic tailgate, sunroof, remote vehicle control via mobile app (for certain functions), a digital driver’s dash and a full leather interior.
What’s the interior like?
It’s really well laid out inside the Pajero Sport and you feel comfortable as soon as you slide in. Most materials are nice to look at and touch and everything feels solid. The GLX has only manually-adjustable seat controls, but they provide a good range of adjustment and the tilt-and-reach steering finds a good spot too.
Looking across the dash, the infotainment and controls stand out over the pre-facelift models, with new metallic silver finishes to dials, including the high and low range selector, and a nicer infotainment system. If you want sat-nav built-in, you’ll need to buy the Exceed which has TomTom maps, otherwise, you’ll need to use your Apple or Android phone connected to CarPlay or Auto respectively.
For charging devices, there are plenty of ports in the cabin, including a 240v Australian-standard plug socket in the back of the centre console. There are no vents down there, but they do sit in the roof (for both second and third-row spots) and are quite effective at heating and cooling the big cabin
Is it spacious?
There’s plenty of space between both the front passengers and the legroom is good up front and in the rear for either kids or adults. Upfront, above where the gear selector sits, there has been some reworking to the centre storage, and the door pockets remain large and deep. The fold-down centre backrest has cupholders for the second row.
Now, while this is not a seven-seater and there’s no option to do so, the boot is larger without the fold-away third-row, touting 673-litres over the seven-seat’s smaller 502L.
What’s the drivetrain like?
Powering along this 2105kg mass is a 2.4-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel engine, mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. It’s not quite the same unit in the pre-MY20 models, as Mitsubishi has revised the fuel injectors, compression ratio and cast a new aluminium cylinder block for (for reduced weight).
The result? The same 133kW at 3500rpm and 430Nm at 2500rpm. But that’s enough for effortless touring and good towing (from past experience in the 2019 Pajero Sport, we’ll get to towing with a 2020 model but expect it should be very similar).
Noise and vibrations are also a minimum from the oiler and fuel economy is reasonable – Mitsubishi claims 8.0L/100km on the government combined cycle and we netted 10.0 flat around town and on the highway.
Joined to the engine is the Mitsubishi Super Select II four-wheel drive system, which can switch from two-high and four-high (with a 40:60 torque split front and rear) – both of which can be driven full-time – and four-low for serious, low-speed offroading.
What’s it like to drive?
It’s a big wagon but the Pajero Sport is easy to navigate around town and into smaller carparks. Measuring 1915mm wide it isn’t the sveltest car about but light steering feel and a fairly quick rack help to make city and suburban driving pretty easy. It also has a nice high position with open vision both out front and back through the rear. And the Toyota Open Country A32 tyres are pretty quiet regardless of the road surface.
The same good deeds can be said for the suspension setup which breathes across the road until you hit corrugations, and even then it is still nicer than the workhorse Triton, the obvious difference being that the Pajero Sport benefits from a three-link rear suspension over the Trion’s leaf-sprung setup. In any event, it’s good regardless of load, as we piled four adults inside with luggage and didn’t feel that the ride deteriorated, and unladen the engine response is a bit more spritely.
We didn’t tow test yet, but the rating provided by Mitsubishi stays the same, with a 670kg payload and 3100kg braked towing capacity with 310kg towball weight.
Heading off sealed roads, the ride feels a touch of underlying firmness on eroded gravel, but steering confidence and handling feels safe and sturdy at all times. You can then capture that feeling and apply it for offroad duties, as the Pajero Sport is a very approachable and easy-to-drive car when hitting the tracks.
The Super Select II four-wheel drive system is simple to use and provides a great safety net, as it can drive in four-high (4H) full-time regardless of speed and conditions, which means you can add some traction from the front wheels in wet or slippery conditions.
When the going gets tougher you slip it into four-high or low with the diff lock engaged, providing easy work up most scrabbly paths. And the same is for downhill, using the hill descent control to automatically set speed steadily on steep declines. It’s pretty simple point and shoot offorading, made simple by gravel, mud, sand, snow and rock modes that change the engine and traction control settings depending on the surface.
How safe is it?
The Mitsubishi Pajero Sport holds a five-star ANCAP rating and comes equipped with airbags, traction control, electronic stability control, and AEB.