Drive – Mitsubishi Pajero 4WD Review

28 Apr 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Drive – Mitsubishi Pajero 4WD Review
Mitsubishi Pajero

Cons

Noisy engine

Dated interior

Road manners lacking on bitumen

No steering-wheel reach adjustment

While updated significantly in 2006, the Mitsubishi Pajero remains fundamentally the same capable four-wheel-drive wagon that emerged after the ground-up generational change in 2000. But Mitsubishi keeps caressing the package, adding equipment and making cosmetic changes for the 2012 generation.

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Price and equipment

We’re testing the VRX, the second-highest grade in a five-model line-up. As per all its siblings, apart from the flagship Exceed, the VRX has dropped petrol V6 power, which means the only choice is the 3.2-litre turbo diesel engine mated to a five-speed automatic.

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Pricing rises by $1400 to $70,890 (plus on-road and dealer costs), pitching the VRX between the Toyota Prado GXL and VX models.

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The most important addition to VRX this year is an auto-dimming rear-view mirror with a built-in reversing monitor. There’s also a new front bumper and radiator grille, new-look 18-inch alloy wheels and a change to red dash-light illumination.

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Already standard is cloth-and-leather seating, a powered driver’s seat and part-powered front passenger seat (both are heated), a Rockford Fosgate 12-speaker audio system, Bluetooth connectivity, auxiliary and USB inputs, a rear-seat DVD player, dual-zone climate control airconditioning, cruise control, fold-away third-row seats, security blind, xenon headlights, roof rails and a full-size spare.

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Safety equipment includes six airbags, stability control, reversing camera and rear parking sensors.

Under the bonnet

The 3.2-litre four-cylinder engine employs common-rail direct injection and an intercooled turbocharger to produce 147kW at 3800rpm and 441Nm at 2000rpm. The official economy claim is 9.0 litres per 100 kilometres. We managed 10.4L/100km during a week that included plenty of urban and country running but no true hardcore four-wheel-driving.

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At that rate, the 88-litre tank translates to a fuel range of about 800 kilometres, which is quite modest for the class. The braked towing capacity of 3000 kilograms is more competitive.

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The engine, which was introduced in a less-powerful form in 2002 and most recently upgraded in 2009, does transmit noise and vibration into the cabin.

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However, there’s little wrong with performance, given it is hauling about 2400 kilograms (before passengers and luggage). Such is the pulling power that long, steep road climbs can be achieved in top gear. When they do come, changes are usually smooth.

How it drives

The Pajero from 2000 broke new ground by being based on car-like monocoque construction. Combined with independent suspension all-round, it delivered a level of on-road driving ability that shamed many rivals.

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While the Pajero has since been revised, the fundamental underpinnings and driving experience remains familiar. That means the handling of the new model remains reliable and the ride is comfortable. The biggest downside of the monocoque build is a higher level of noise intrusion into the cabin, compared with a separate chassis off-roader.

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When the going gets tough off-road, the part-time, high-low 4WD system helps ensure the Pajero is immensely capable – maybe not quite in the league of the Prado but not far behind.

Mitsubishi Pajero

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These days the Pajero is too cumbersome to be suitable urban transport. While the turning circle is a creditable 11.4 metres, the steering is weighty at low speeds.

Comfort and practicality

There are a couple of obvious giveaways to the age of the Pajero. The first is the lack of reach adjustment of the steering wheel. The other is the way the third-row seats fold in and out of the floor in one piece, limiting flexible seating and luggage opportunities.

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The Pajero has a typical heavy-duty off-roader knees-up position for second- and third-row passengers.

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Space is otherwise good in row two for adults but row three is for children only. Access is easy, thanks to second-row seats that split-fold and tilt forward.

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Luggage space is a generous 1081 litres, with row three folded away. Flip forward row two and it expands to a bicycle-swallowing 1789 litres.

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The Pajero provides a high and panoramic viewing platform for all passengers but, most importantly, the driver. Big external mirrors help.

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Our test VRX came fitted with an optional $2300 media centre including sat-nav and audio controls. The screen is big but the buttons are tiny.

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The standard trip computer is comprehensive, including an altimeter and barometer.

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Mitsubishi Pajero
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