2015 MITSUBISHI PAJERO REVIEW
BY KARL PESKETT
Price: $53,990 plus options and on-road costs for GLX
Engine/Trans: 147kW/441Nm 3.2-litre turbo-diesel / 5-speed Automatic
Fuel Economy claimed: 9.0 l/100km combined
Suspension: Independent all round with coil springs
Towing: 750kg unbraked / 3000kg braked
Vehicle class: off-road passenger vehicle (MC)
Eight years is a long time in the car industry. Most companies have replaced their cars in that time-frame, and infotainment systems have especially rocketed ahead. But for Mitsubishi, keeping cars going seems to be a common practice. Witness the Lancer, which was introduced in 2007, and has been through all manner of trim changes and face-lifts, but is, for all intents and purposes, the same car.
In the same year, the Mitsubishi Pajero received a thorough overhaul, creating effectively the same car we see today. Yes, there have been a few minor running changes along the way, but it seems to have been kept going far longer than its shelf-life should have been.
Every update has had everyone holding their breath for something new, something inspiring, but alas, the interior has stayed the same, the engine’s revisions have been minor, and the look? Well, we have a new grille – yawn.
Inside, it’s business as usual as well. The same hard plastics abound, while things like the flip-down cover for the coin tray felt exceptionally flimsy a few years ago, let alone today.
The digital panel at the top of the dash is quite cumbersome to scroll through and looks very dated, owing to its turn-of-the-century dot matrix LCD display. The instruments also look a generation or two old, with small numbers and coloured backgrounds making things a bit harder to read.
The seats are comfortable, perhaps a bit flat, but the leather in the Exceed is easy to clean and the electric adjustment found in the GLR and Exceed is welcome. Baby seats are easy enough to fit to the second row, though it’s worth noting that depending on the seat base, it can slide around on the leather a bit.
Perhaps a more challenging issue for larger families is the third row isn’t split – you either have seats six and seven (as a bench arrangement) up or they’re both stowed away – so storage options are limited. The bench’s legroom isn’t exactly expansive, too, so the rear passengers will need to be young or short and agile.
The biggest sin, though, is it’s 2015 and the Pajero still doesn’t have reach adjustability on its steering wheel. Rain sensing wipers and auto-headlamps on the GLS and Exceed are nice, but overall, the interior isn’t one to write home about.
Open the bonnet and you’ll find only one engine choice these days: a 3.2-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder making 147kW and 441Nm. You can tell it’s a Japanese diesel; peak torque doesn’t start until 2000rpm, but thankfully Mitsubishi has added some sound deadening to soften the original clatter, having progressed a bit from the previous model.
The oiler is mated to a five-speed auto, which in this day and age is at least one ratio too little, however it is smooth shifting and doesn’t hunt for gears with variable throttle. Fuel economy is listed at 10.8L/100km, but around town low teens is more common.
On the road you can feel it weighs the better part of 2.3-tonnes, with some lag until the turbo spools up, and just under 2000rpm it starts to pick up and make reasonable progress. The Pajero is never going to set land speed records but it’s proves a match for city traffic and at the national limit it trundles along with minimal fuss. Overtaking at speed does require some forward planning, though, as the Pajero needs a fair run up to get up and over 110kmh.
The ride is quite good, though it can be a little fussy at lower speeds, transmitting some rumble through when heading over pockmarked surfaces. It’s not ideal in slalom-like conditions but keep your inputs nice and relaxed and the Pajero proves a comfortable companion. But let’s leave its attributes as a family chariot behind and see what it can do when you utilise its transfer case.
Changing into low range is very simple. Pull up to a stop, chuck it in neutral, push the transfer case lever down and forward and then watch the little light on the dash confirm your selection. Whack it in drive again, and you’re good to go.
Here, with shortened gearing the diesel’s 441Nm helps progress nicely. Lag is virtually eliminated (useful when relying on the ESC’s brake effect) and the five speeds are evenly spaced enough to keep the engine on the boil.
The Pajero weighs just under 2.3-tonnes so it’s no lightweight, meaning it needs to have some good suspension to distribute that weight and get those tyres gripping the surface. And thankfully, the Pajero does.
Its ride over rough terrain is very good, and when the tyres have been let down a little, it softens up even further. The stability control is able to help chase grip over loose rocks, and the rear diff lock works well when the one of the rear wheels lifts off the ground.
The biggest problem isn’t grip or getting drive up and over obstacles, it’s ground clearance.
At 225mm, it sounds like enough and with road pressures, it probably would be, but let down the rubber to a level which lets it mould around rocks and sharp sticks, or bagged out enough to get through dust bowls, and it starts to reduce. You soon find it dragging over hard surfaces or without enough momentum the sand starts to build under the sills and slows it right down.
That’s not to say it lacks ability – there’s plenty on offer – but it’s not quite as hardcore as, say, a Toyota Prado. But then with prices ranging from $50,900 for the GLX through to $65,990 for the Exceed, it’s a lot cheaper than a Prado.
The big question, then, is: “Is it worth the money”? Well, expect the mod-cons and fit and finish of a car from 2015 and it falls well short of the mark. It needs something that’s going to get it over the line. Five years warranty, five years roadside assist and four years capped price servicing should do the trick.
But if you want honest transport for seven people which can tackle a weekend away from the big smoke, the Pajero is quite good.
But it’s probably worth starting a petition and filing it with Mitsubishi: Please release a new Pajero. Like right now…