Mitsubishi Pajero was introduced to Australia in January, 1983 where it was in the vanguard of the move to refined, easy to drive suburban SUVs.
It provided levels of comfort and convenience that were unknown in moderately-priced off-roaders at that time, yet with the macho look of a true off-roader.
Now, nearly 40 years later, Pajero is still competing strongly against a vast range of competitors in the large SUV segment.
The current Pajero Sport isn’t a variant of the standard Pajero, now discontinued, but a vehicle in its own right.
It comes in four variants: five-seat GLX, and seven-seat GLS, Exceed and GSR — all powered by the same 2.4-litre turbo-diesel engine.
GLX and GLS come with the choice of two- or four-wheel drive, Exceed and GSR are 4WD only.
What’s it cost?
Prices range from $44,440 for a 2WD GLX to $61,440 for the 4WD GSR.
Our test vehicle was the flagship GSR model.
Pajero Sport comes with the latest iteration of Mitsubishi’s Dynamic Shield styling, with the projector headlights positioned to the outside of daytime running lights in a continuation of the grille.
The grille features a black honeycomb design.
All the exterior lights are LED.
Depending on the variant there are up to seven body colour options, two of which — Black Mica and White Diamond — are exclusive to the GSR.
It also features black exterior and interior accents, with matching black 18-inch alloy wheels, front and rear bumper garnish, radiator grille and roof rails.
The Diamond Black GSR also gets a black roof.
All models get an 8.0-inch colour touchscreen, upgraded to LCD in the Exceed and GSR
Entry-level GLX comes with Bluetooth connectivity, with voice control and audio streaming; digital radio; Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring; four USB sockets and one HDMI input; and four-speaker sound.
GLS adds two extra speakers and integrated satellite navigation.
Exceed and GSR also get an eight-speaker premium sound system together with access to a smartphone app which allows a range of features to be operated from outside the vehicle including tailgate opening; vehicle status check; fuel consumption check; car finder function; set-up notification and Apple watch connectivity.
Standard safety features include seven airbags (front, side, curtain and driver’s knee); ABS brakes with emergency brake assist, electronic brakeforce distribution, brake override and emergency stop signal; stability, trailer and traction control; forward collision mitigation system; hill start assist and descent control; adaptive cruise control; reversing camera; rear parking sensors; and two Isofix child seat anchors.
Exceed and GSR add blind spot warning; rear cross traffic alert; lane change assist; mis-acceleration mitigation system; adjustable speed limiter and speed limit display; multi around monitor (optional on the GLS); and front parking sensors.
What’s it go like?
Power comes from Mitsubishi’s tried-and-true 2.4-litre MIVEC direct-injection turbo-diesel engine with outputs of 133kW at 3500 rpm and 430Nm at 2500 revs.
Transmission is an eight-speed automatic.
All Pajero Sport 4WD models come with Mitsubishi’s Super Select II 4WD system.
There are four drive modes: 2WD High Range, Full Time 4WD and High and Low Range 4WD with locked centre differential.
Four Off-Road modes are also available: Gravel, Mud/Snow, Sand or Rock.
Inside the Pajero Sport the design is neat and functional with soft touch features adding a premium feel.
The seats large and comfortable and the steering wheel is adjustable for both height and reach.
The centre console has a modern shape and there are lower trays in the dashboard forward of the shift lever and under the tunnel-type floor console, allowing access from both sides, giving improved utility and convenience.
There’s plenty of headroom in all seats and second row legroom is reasonable.
The second-row seat back can also be tilted.
Third row seats, as always, are best suited for young children.
Rear storage space in the seven-seat Pajero Sport is minimal with the third-row seats in place, although the base can by folded back allowing the back to fold perfectly flat to expand space up to 673 litres depending on the variant.
There’s also a shallow compartment in the floor the full width of the back with a lid to hide smaller items from view.
Pajero Sport is a large vehicle so getting into it can be a task for smaller occupants, although a side step and grab handle should alleviate the problem.
Variants above the GLX also come with a powered tailgate and kick-motion sensor.
As with most of its direct competitors Pajero Sport is built on a utility platform, in this case the Mitsubishi Triton with which it also shares the same engine.
So, there’s plenty of grunt when needed and semi-serious off-road credentials, but it’s still smooth and comfortable on the bitumen.
Around town it has a tight, for its class, turning circle of 11.0 metres.
Power assist has been calibrated to reduce steering effort when stationary or at low speeds while providing greater feedback at higher speeds.
Pajero Sport offers an easy, relatively refined drive with a nice blend of power and control.
Given its real off-road capability it is not as compliant or gentle as those bitumen-only SUVs, but is certainly comfortable enough.
Fuel consumption is listed at 8.0L/100km. We averaged 9.6L/100km.
What we like?
Plenty of grunt
Nice blend of power and control
Large and comfortable
Semi-serious off-road credentials
What we don’t like?
Getting into it could be difficult for smaller occupants
The bottom line?
Mitsubishi Pajero Sport is a genuine all-rounder that’s equally at home carrying out domestic duties in an urban environment where it’s likely to spend most of its time, as it will be in demanding off-road territory that would stop softer rivals.
It’s well-priced and comes with Mitsubishi’s well-promoted 10-year warranty, provided that its always serviced at a dealership and doesn’t travel more than 200,000km in that period.