MITSUBISHI’s fourth-generation Pajero is set to reach new heights. THE track ahead looked daunting: rocks the size of footballs, deep potholes, ridges, ruts, loose stones and a gradient so steep it would be hard to walk up without slipping over. But, hey, the new Mitsubishi Pajero already had shown how easily it could handle rough terrain and by now this driver had every confidence it would ease its way up, and down, this rugged steep patch, too.
Slide the Super-Select lever to low-range, take advantage of the hill-start in the automatic transmission (the vehicle does not roll backwards when you take the foot off the brake) and, sure enough, the Pajero pulled its way up with little fuss.
Traction control, rear differential locks and engine brake assist are just part of the vehicle’s big package of modern technology to make it easy for the driver. The sure power and torque of the engines – petrol and diesel – and the very well-controlled suspension also contribute to Pajero’s being an all-terrain conqueror.
And yet the new four-wheel-drive is civilised – quieter and more comfortable than the outgoing model.
Although officially unveiled at the Paris Motor Show this week, Mitsubishi Motors Australia Ltd will be the first right-hand-drive market in the world to have the new model.
We were able to test the range this week through creek beds and washouts and over rough tracks and dirt roads around Arkaroola in the Flinders Ranges. Mitsubishi Pajero was the first of the volume-selling brands to combine the driving ease of a passenger car with credible 4WD ability.
The NS Pajero is the fourth generation and, other than featuring a reskinned body, uprated engines and new interior, it sees the reintroduction of the short-wheelbase three-door version.
Prices will span $40,990 to $70,990, with the main choices including the $2000 diesel engine and the $3000 automatic transmission.
Even the GLX wagon, from $49,490, is well equipped with alloy wheels, climate-control airconditioning, cruise control, trip computer with compass, ABS, stability control, traction control and seven seats, the third row stowing neatly away in the cargo floor.
The VRX, from $54,990, will be marketed as the sporty one but really is just dressed a little more, including 18in wheels and heated front seats. Exceed remains the luxury version, complete with 12-speaker sound system and leather trim, from $68,990 in automatic only.
The Exceed gives side and curtain airbags, which can be ordered on the other models at $1000 to add to the dual front airbags.
The new NS Pajero is based on the floorpan and suspension of the outgoing model. But just about every body panel is new, giving a smoother, cleaner design, and the suspension has been reworked.
Indeed, the first thing noticed on a dirt-road drive from Balcanoona airstrip to Arkaroola was the noise reduction in the diesel and the improved smoothness and ride comfort. Yet, Pajero is very worthy as a serious 4WD. The other main change is in the engines.
The 3.8-litre V6 petrol still with only a single overhead camshaft now has Mivec variable valve timing. Power is up 23 per cent to 184kW, while torque is up 19Nm to 329Nm at a much lower 2750rpm. It is LPG compatible and will run on E10 fuel.
The new diesel engine is a 3.2-litre direct injection with common rail, a four-cylinder with double overhead camshafts.
When mated to the manual gearbox, it delivers 118kW of power and 381Nm of torque but, to suit the automatic transmission, it is tuned to 125kW and 358Nm.
Pajero can now hold its head high against Nissan Patrol and Toyota Prado. Mitsubishi is targeting the Prado and is claiming it is now way in front in performance and equipment for the models’ prices.
Some Pajero wagons will be on sale from November, with remaining variants and the SWB three-door models from January, next year.
Three for all
The short-wheelbase Pajero is being reintroduced by Mitsubishi in Australia as part of the new NS range.
The three-door is a five-seater, albeit the rear seat is tight on leg and head room.
The SWB will come in two forms, the R model from $40,990 with 17in alloys and the X model from $47,990 with its 18in wheels and wheel-arch flares and heated leather seats among the luxury features.
The SWB comes only with the five-speed auto transmission with its sequential Sports mode shift. The diesel engine is available at $2000 more.
The SWB is 615mm shorter in body length than the five-door Pajero wagon and 235mm less in wheelbase.
Yet ride comfort is still good on rough ground and it has the advantage of a better departure angle.
Price: From $40,990 (short wheelbase automatic), from $49,490 (GLX wagon), $54,990 (VRX wagon). Add $3000 for automatic and $2000 for diesel. Exceed automatic $68,990 or diesel $70,990.
Engines: 3828cc sohc 24-valve V6 petrol with MIVEC. 3200cc dohc four-cylinder turbocharged diesel.
Power: 184kW @ 6000rpm (petrol). 118kW @ 3800rpm (manual diesel) or 125kW @ 3800rpm (automatic diesel).
Torque: 329Nm @ 2750rpm (petrol), 381Nm @ 2000rpm (manual diesel), 358Nm @ 2000rpm (automatic diesel).
Transmissions: Five-speed manual or five-speed automatic with Sports mode sequential shift. Super-select II 4WD system with 1.9: low range. Rear- wheel drive when in 2WD. [The Advertiser]