Overlooked & Under-appreciated
Oh boy, the large bakkie-based segment in South Africa is a tough market to play in. The Toyota Fortuner rules the roost while the likes of the Ford Everest, Isuzu MU-X, and Mitsubishi Pajero Sport all desperately cling onto the coattails of the Fortuner’s success.
Take nothing away from the Toyota, it is a very accomplished product which dazzles consumers with its storied badge and an expansive footprint across the country.
But I suspect that the light gleams too brightly as many are blinded to the breadths of talent in the rest of the segment. Take the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport for example. It undercuts both the Toyota and Ford by more than R100 000 in their most expensive specification; is not found wanting in any particular area and comes from a manufacturer that arguably has an equally impressive reputation for reliability and trustworthiness.
I unfortunately can’t account for consumers’ shopping behaviors so don’t expect any solid answers as to why we are a stubborn, single-minded bunch. But what I can tell you is why I think the updated Mitsubishi Pajero Sport is a cut above of the rest and at the very least, worth a visit to the showroom.
Mitsubishi South Africa introduced the refreshed Pajero Sport late last year with the introduction of the range-topping Exceed model as well. You’ll notice the new face which Mitsubishi calls their ‘Dynamic Shield’ design, which brings into line with the stablemates like the Triton, Eclipse Cross and ASX. At the rear, the tweaked tail lights have been shortened and feature a new LED signature.
Handsome looks aside, the updated Pajero Sport also offers a raft of interior updates. Although the design and layout remain the same, you now get an updated eight-inch touchscreen which supports both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, dual-zone air-conditioning including rear passenger controls, plus a leather-clad multifunction steering wheel, Bluetooth and voice control. On the safety front, each of the Pajero Sport’s 7 passengers are catered for in terms of an airbag.
Our range-topping Exceed 4×4 test unit also features a sliding sunroof, Mitsubishi Remote Control connectivity, and an electronic tailgate with kick sensors.
So, you’re certainly not lacking in terms of tech, style and amenities but one area where the Pajero Sport does fall slightly short is in the drivetrain department. You only have one option for both the engine and gearbox to choose from which is a 2.4l MIVEC turbo diesel engine, producing 133kW and 430Nm and linked to an eight-speed automatic transmission. And while it does a sufficient job of lugging about its large frame, there were instances where power waned and it struggled to keep up with the flow of traffic. But the majority of the time, accelerating and cruising at the national speed limit was a breeze and overall noise, vibration and harshness was low. Mitsubishi claims an average fuel consumption of 8.1l/100 although I managed around the 8.7l/100 which is quite respectable.
While I never had the opportunity to take our test unit off the beaten track, I do have experience with Mitsubishi’s Super Select 4WD-II system and I can assure you that you will find very few obstacles in your path. For the average family, the Pajero Sport possesses more than enough capabilities to meet your families adventures and sum.
With pricing ranging from R624 995 for the base 4×2 model and extending all the way to R704 995 for the top of the range Exceed model, the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport makes a compelling case for itself. For similar outlay, you can get into a Toyota Fortuner equipped with the updated 2.8-litre engine, however, you only get that model in 4×2 guise and an additional R70 000 is needed to hop into the base 4×4 variant with that engine.
So the updated Mitsubishi Pajero Sport is truly the smart money in this segment, and it’s worth noting that it recently claimed the title of best large SUV/Crossover in CAR Magazine’s annual Top 12 Best Buys. Need I say more? Just go and visit one of their dealerships so you can see for yourself.