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Private Fleet Car Review: Mitsubishi Pajero Sport GLS

It’s a hearty welcome back to Mitsubishi for Private Fleet and it was straight into the top level. The Pajero Sport, formerly known as Challenger, comes in a three trim level range. You can choose from the GLX, GLS, and Exceed. Private Fleet goes one on one with the 2017 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport GLS.Mitsubishi have loaded the Pajero Sport with a grunty 2.4L diesel and eight speed auto. Off road driving is catered for with the Super Select 2 four wheel drive system and the GLS cops a rear differential lock. Up front, that diesel delivers a handy 133 kilowatts at 3500 revs, backing up the more than decent 430 torques one thousand revs lower. Mitsubishi quote a combined fuel efficiency for the two tonne plus behemoth of 8.0L/100 km from the 68 litre tank, a figure we more or less matched.It’s a super smooth combo, the eight speeder and diesel. It’s slick, smooth to a fault, with barely perceptible changes at almost any throttle setting. Manual gear changes are available via the gear selector or metal paddles on the steering column. The diesel is a old school chatterer, however, with plenty of ratta-tatta under any form of load. It’s noisy, yes, but lends the Pajero Sport a sense of extra character.Some would say the exterior design of the Pajero Sport has character and you’d have to study their face to see if they’re serious. The front is what Mitsubishi calls its “shield” design and it’s handsome enough. Chrome plates blend with the angular headlights and it flows nicely. In profile, there’s a sense of a hunch in the windowline at the rear, combined with a deep set crease over the rear wheel arches. It’s from the rear that the Pajero Sport’s design has raised the most eyebrows since it was launched, with tail lights that look as if heat has been applied and they’ve melted from top to bottom. Beauty in the eye of the beholder and all that…There’s some big numbers for the Pajero Sport; length is 4785 mm long and it stands 1815 mm tall, taller than most. Front leg room is good at 1087 mm whilst the rear seats may seem a little tight for taller people, with 880 mm leg room on display. Towing capacity tips the three tonne mark, at 3100 kilograms, meaning caravanners will be delighted. There’s plenty of grip to do so from the Bridgestone Dueller 265/60 rubber on 18 inch 12 spoked alloys.Inside it’s typical Mitsubishi, with spot on ergonomics, leather seats in the GLS (sans heating and cooling), auto headlights, rear diff lock and towing braking package as well. Front and centre for the driver is Mitsubishi’s Eco messenger display in colour, with a five leaf clover indicating the economic efficiency (or lack there-of) of your driving skills. The display is a typical Mitsubishi highlight, with little to no eye strain and beautifully clean in layout making it easy to read at a glance.The six speaker sound system in the GLS (eight in the Exceed) comes with DAB and the digital sound is superb in the Pajero Sport. The seven inch touchscreen also allows access to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, adding some up to date technology to the field of play. The dash is a mix of glossy piano black, charcoal matt textured black and aluminuim look highlights that run down into the console and splashes on the doors As expected in a family oriented SUV there’s storage pockets aplenty and the underfloor storage provides some extra security. Although the seats aren’t heated and cooled, they’re comfortable and supportive enough, with quicker turns on road having minimal human body movement. You arrive at a distant destination feeling refreshed enough and being set high, you’ve got both great all round vision and easy entry and exiting. You need to be refreshed as the dynamics of the Pajero Sport aren’t exactly razor sharp. Although it’s got a big footprint, with a 2800 mm long wheelbase, front track of 1520 mm and rear at 1515 mm, it’s unwieldy on the road thanks largely to the perhaps too soft suspension, a mix of double wishbone & coil springs up front and 3 link coil spring & stabiliser bar rear. If you’ve never driven a vehicle such as this you feel as if you’d need to slow to a crawl to turn corners, such is the sensation of body roll.It’s not a point and shoot style car, for sure, however by sitting up high as one does in such a vehicle, anything other than a straight and flat road transmits a feeling of slight uneasiness as to whether the Pajero Sport will go where you tell it. It’ll understeer easily even at moderate speeds but that’s a handling setup issue as the tyres give no indication at all of losing grip. Eventually, and quickly, it must be pointed out, you adapt quickly to the handling and roll foibles, and start exploiting the ability, not agility, of the thing.Being fitted with a proper transfer case for high and low range driving, plus the aforementioned diff lock, is an example of that ability. Low range 4WD has the Pajero Sport head down and bum up as it crawls over rocks, through mud, over gravel and brings back the ability to instill confidence in its ability. There’s a 45 degree climb angle, approach and departure angles of 30 and 24.5 degrees, and will swim through water safely at up to 700 mm in depth. Throttle control is en pointe, with bare flexes of the ankle seeing and feeling response straight away. Unfortunately the same can’t be said of the brakes. For such a large vehicle and with the mass it has, the brakes simply aren’t good enough. There’s absolutely no feel with an initial press and a lacklustre feel when the pads start to bite from far too much pressure being required on the pedal. Too often it felt like the Pajero Sport wouldn’t pull up in time and an emergency brake press was needed in order for an appropriate bite to work.

Should something go awry, you can rely on the front/side/curtain/driver’s knee airbags to come to play, along with Active Stability and Traction Control, Emergency Brake Assist, Hill Start Assist and Smart Brake. The seatbelts have pretensioning and of course there’s Mitsubishi’s RISE (Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution) body. Going backwards is covered by a reverse camera, standard across the range.

The range starts at $47500 driveaway (at the time of writing, check with your dealer for pricing) for the GLX five seater and metallic paint is a cheapish $590 option. Mitsubishi also offer an extensive range of options to help you personalise the Pajero Sport just the way you like.

At The End Of The Drive.
The Triton based Challenger/Pajero Sport has always been a solid, if not sparkling, performer on road and certainly works well enough off. It’s dynamically not as sharp as some of its competition, retains the charm of an old school oiler with the chatter, but backs up with modern tech, a great transmission, and the bulletproof reliability that Mitsubishi’s off road heritage brings to the Pajero nameplate. For now, it’s also the best five or seven seater off road capable vehicle Mitsubishi has. Head here for more information and a look at the options list as well: 2017 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport range