The nippy flip
It had to happen eventually. We have a stern rule at the office that my boss only drives Diesels, bakkies and automatics while I test anything he describes as fancy, flat ‘n fast. This way everyone’s happy, we won’t be exposed to our most loathed automotive segment and the resulting reviews should be relatively fair.
Despite our best booking and logistical efforts, I somehow still found a Mitsubishi Pajero Sport 2.5 DiD 4×2 Automatic on my driveway recently. Great. Although it’s a car I’d never want to own myself, I vowed to be as objective as possible and even found a few big jobs for the Japanese SUV.
First up was the transportation of a few bulky items to a farm on the outskirts of town and this immediately tested the Sport’s versatility. Blessed with seven seats, it took us quite a while to figure out how to collapse them but the resulting space (1,149-1,776L) is enough for most pieces of oversized cargo.
Dirt roads, ditches and other loose surfaces quickly showcased the Mitsubishi’s off-road abilities which are underpinned by impressive ground clearance (205mm), approach (34°) and departure (24°) angles. If you stay away from soft sand, mountains, mud and other such obstacles, the 2.5 4×2 will do just fine.
The rear leaf-spring suspension is hard and jittery on the road but settles down with a dose of weight or speed. Pajero Sport’s overactive steering needs 1.5 turns to navigate a normal 90 degree corner in town, yet we found that its upside is excellent control over slow-speed, rough terrain.
No sooner was the cargo delivered and we were cruising on the highway to the airport. Road holding is a tad wonky but you simply need to treat the high-riding car with respect for it to follow your commands. Travelling at the national speed limit, it’s also fairly quiet and economical.
The 2.5-litre in-line four cylinder turbo-diesel engine develops 131kW or 350Nm and delivers this through a smooth five-speed automatic gearbox with touch-shift option. Pajero Sport has surprisingly nippy performance (we achieved 0-100km/h in 10.4 seconds) and will gladly jack-hammer to 4,000rpm if you wish.
Obviously it’s most happy between 1,500 and 2,500rpm so you need never bury your right foot to gain thrust. 8.5L/100km claimed average consumption and a 70L tank do their best to stretch time between refills. Our average consumption during the week was closer to 10 though.
At the airport, three see-through visitors from overseas were immediately roped into helping me review the car and it started with their mass of luggage. No problem for a Pajero Sport and five adults were soon motoring towards the mother city in air-conditioned, cruise controlled comfort.
Some declared the leather seats to be a little hard but the following items all got at least one thumb up: the comprehensive trip computer with individual graphs, the touch-screen sound system, ride height, overall visibility, head room, storage solutions, wheels and front design of the car.
It’s not exactly racy but the projector headlights and grills have been skillfully joined in a tapered nose. Step / skid boards along the flanks break the slab-sidedness of it all while the tailgate has a simple, uncomplicated look. Based on the Triton bakkie, we’re not sure how this ended up being called a Pajero?
Never mind though, when outdoorsy types queue for a big, rugged, affordable SUV they obviously don’t care about its name. Price and spec are way more important so here goes: leather, Bluetooth, front and rear aircon, cruise control, three 12V sockets, HID headlights, rear-view camera and park sensors.
Auto lights and wipers, power windows and mirrors as well as driver’s seat controls, ABS, EBD, BAS, stability control and six airbags. I could go on about our many trips, the lights and seat adjustments but I sense that there’s one burning question in the air. Is it as good as a Fortuner?
Unfortunately, Mitsubishi has an inferior dealer count to its big Japanese rival and this Pajero Sport 2.5 4×2 Auto will set you back N$419,900. The cheapest Fortuner, a 2.5 Raised Body, costs “just” N$361,600 but doesn’t come close to the Mitsu’s specifications.
The next model up is on par with our test car but costs N$20,000 more so the entry-level Pajero Sport is competitively priced and well spec’d. Its 3-year/100,000km warranty and 5-year/90,000km service plan are identical to Toyota’s so you may want to draw straws or flip a coin to choose between them.
0-100m: 6.7s / 78.2km/h
0-200m: 10.6s / 100.7km/h
0-300m: 13.8s / 114.2km/h
0-400m: 16.8s / 125.0km/h
1/4mile: 16.8s @ 77.8mph (125.2km/h)