Imagine having to compete with the likes of the Toyota Fortuner and Ford Everest. There are other competitors like the Isuzu Mu-X and Haval H9 and there is some new competition coming from Nissan in the form of the new Pathfinder, but the Fortuner and Everest are the top sellers in the class and for good reason.
In order to take market share away from the top dogs you need to offer something different, preferably with a stand out feature to set your vehicle apart.
This is where the Mitsubishi is pitching the Pajero Sport. Right off the bat, the styling is very different and doesn’t follow trends. It’s quite easy to make a vehicle look aggressive, draw some straight angular lines and hey presto. The trick though is to make it blend in with the rest of the vehicle, something Mitsubishi has nailed on the head. Every line of the menacing front facia leads to a line down the side of the vehicle, making the vehicle look longer than it actually is.
If you want to know how a vehicle compares to its rivals, you need to test it on the same terrain in similar conditions. The Fortuner was tested at Ou Trekpad on a medium hot day and so will the Pajero Sport.
The Pajero Sport is fitted with the 2.4L Mivec turbodiesel, pushing out a fairly adequate 133kW and 430nM, paired with Mitsubishi’s Super Select II offering four different drive modes. The 4H drive mode distributes torque in a 40:60 ratio between the front and rear wheels via a Torsen limited-slip differential for safer on-road driving in slippery conditions i.e. gravel and wet roads. 4HLc (4WD High range with center diff locked) distributes torque equally between the front and rear wheels for improved traction on sand, dirt and snow. 4LLc (4WD Low range with center diff locked) provides greater torque for extreme off-road conditions.
Lesson learnt, tyres deflated to 1.2 bar and decent progress was made in the sand. In 4H with Traction Control on, wheel spin is well managed ensuring as long as you select the right line, you shouldn’t have any problems. Approach, departure and breakover angles are 30, 24.2 and 23.1 respectively. For comparison the Fortuner’s figures are 30, 25 and 23.5 while the Everest’s are 29.5, 25 and 21.5.
Where the Pajero Sport also punches above its weight class is in the handling department. With the Sport nomenclature you would expect minimal body roll, at the expense of a firm ride. Even though the Pajero Sport has less body roll on fast tarred roads than its competitors, its suspension is no harsher. This is down to some cleverly engineered anti-roll bars.
As a package, the Pajero Sport is a viable alternative to the big guns. It’s superior road holding abilities is it’s stand out feature and one that is a key selling point in the eyes of many buyers, as tar driving is where the vehicle is probably used most often. Priced at R704 900 for the top of the range Exceed model, it offers great value for buyers looking for a vehicle that stands out from the crowd.