Home' Motoring Plus : February 24th 2016 Contents THE NELSON MAIL Wednesday, February 24, 2016 — 7
Pajero Sport is no soft-roader
Utes blended with
SUVs are both old-
school and the latest
David Linklater tests
the top-spec Pajero
Pajero Sport: SUV on top, quite a lot of Triton truck underneath.
Workaday materials but nice fit and finish in cabin. Note Apple CarPlay
on the touchscreen.
At a glance
automatic, 4WD with
4785mm long, 1815mm
wide, 1805mm high,
673-1624 litres luggage.
balance of on-road
ability with awesome
talents, superb value.
Not: Styling won’t be
to all tastes, where’s
the third-row seating?
Out of 10: 8.
A lot going on in Sport’s rear styling: dripping tail
lights, tippy-toes stance.
What were they thinking? Ugly Mitsubishi-approved
towbar ruins the dramatic styling.
Confused: what’s the
difference between a Pajero
and a Pajero Sport?
Mitsubishi has taken a leaf out of
Land Rover’s book here: there’s
the full-size Range Rover and then
a smaller but completely different
(and more driver-oriented) Range
So the old-school – and I do
mean old, because it turns 10 this
year – Pajero continues for now,
but the Pajero Sport is a
completely new vehicle and
shares nothing with big brother.
Except perhaps an aspiration to
go off-road and/or tow stuff,
because Sport joins a growing
genre of SUVs that serve as family
wagons but still retain extremely
rugged underpinnings. Think
Holden Colorado, Toyota
Fortuner and the more upmarket
How do they do that? By
borrowing their basic
underpinnings from utes – the
Mitsubishi Triton in this case.
There are a few big pluses for
Pajero Sport in this design/
On the rough-and-tumble side,
Sport can tow 3.1 tonnes, climb
over rocks and wade through
700mm of water. In terms of its on-
road application (still the main
point of this SUV), Triton is
already one of the smoother-
riding utes around and it boasts
Mitsubishi’s Super Select 4WD
system, which is one of the few in
the light-commercial arena that
allows 4WD operation at highway
So is the driving experience
closer to ute or car?
The Pajero Sport picks up both
the Triton platform and its
2.4-litre turbo-diesel engine. But
the newcomer gets admirably
close to crossover-SUV levels of
response and ride comfort
courtesy of a few important
First, the Tritron’s five-speed
automatic has been thrown out in
favour of an impressively smooth
eight-speeder that really gives
Sport a unique selling proposition
among its immediate rivals.
Second, the Triton’s off-road-
optimised solid rear axle/leaf-
spring suspension has been
softened with a coil-sprung setup
There are still traces of the
Sport’s ute heritage on the road.
There’s the occasional shimmy
through the steering wheel and a
wriggle from the chassis over
urban bumps or open-road
undulations, but given the Sport’s
heavy-duty towing and off-road
abilities it’s a pretty impressive
compromise. It’s certainly
comfortable enough for long-
distance travel and suitably stable
for brisk cornering.
It won’t go as far off-road as a
Triton for reasons already
already explained, but this is no
soft-roader either: the approach/
departure/rampover angles of
30/24/23 degrees match the ute
and a rotary dial gives you RWD,
4WD on-road, 4WD lock and low-
Sport does have all the
comforts expected in SUV world.
The top VRX model on test gets
leather upholstery, power/heated
seats and upgraded audio. The
Pajero Sport has thankfully
ditched Mitsubishi’s ghastly
infotainment operating system in
favour of a touch-screen with
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
The rear seats are mounted
theatre-style, so occupants get a
commanding view out despite the
But there are a couple of fails:
although there’s dual-zone
climate air up front in the VRX,
there are no outlets for the rear-
seat passengers. And while the
boot is massive, there’s no option
for third-row seating offered,
meaning the Sport is the only one
of Mitsubishi’s larger SUVs that’s
restricted to five seats: both
Outlander and Pajero Senior can
offer a third row of chairs. A
limitation of that Triton platform
The VRX also lacks a powered
tail gate, which might sound like
a bit of first-world problem. But
this is a flagship-spec SUV and the
back door is fairly substantial.
If there’s light-commercial
tech underneath are you still
getting modern SUV safety?
Well, it’s a five-star ANCAP crash-
test vehicle. In terms of active
safety, a vehicle like this doesn’t
have the ultimate safety and
stability of a passenger-car-based
SUV when it comes to making an
emergency manoeuvre or
recovering from momentary loss
of control, but the flagship Sport
VRX certainly has its share of
360-degree camera with front/rear
parking sensors, blind-spot
warning, forward collision
mitigation and mis-acceleration
It’s perhaps a little too safety
conscious in some scenarios. The
forward-collision alert insisted on
going off every time I approached
a tall traffic chicane on my
regular morning commute and
the mis-acceleration system shuts
things down way too eagerly if
you happen to move away briskly
from an intersection after the
vehicle in front. Maybe it’s trying
to tell me something about my
This is a bit delicate so I’ll
speak softly: why does it
look so weird?
Fair comment! The front is a bit
out-there, but that’s just because
Mitsubishi’s so-called ‘‘dynamic
shield’’ design template is quite
adventurous. Also seen on the
smaller Outlander, it embraces a
lot of chrome shooting off at
unusual angles. At least you can’t
say it’s boring.
Ditto for the rear, which has
those odd dripping tail lights and
a tippy-toes stance.
Sharing a platform with the
Triton ute might be partly the
reason why it looks so tall and
narrow, but it’s also a bit of a
fashion with this genre of vehicle.
The styling even seems to
emphasis the odd sense of
proportion with its ultra-high
waistline (the Toyota Fortuner is
quite similar on both counts).
It’s a polarising look, although
it’s not so shocking in the metal.
Bit like a Triton wearing a
There is one weird thing
though. Given that so much effort
went into the idiosyncratic
styling and that this is a vehicle
more likely to tow stuff than most,
it seems a shame that the
fitted to our test vehicle is such an
eyesore. There’s a solid crossbar
hanging out the back of the
vehicle that completely
undermines the avant garde look
of the Sport.
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