I‘ve always had a fascination with the Mitsubishi Pajero. Rugged, yet refined, these machines have been one of the first vehicles to create a new niche, that of the affordable SUVs. Yes, there always have been super luxury Range Rovers on the one hand and utilitarian Land Rovers on the other, but nothing in the middle – that is until the first generation Pajeros were launched in the early eighties. They offered turbocharged engines, independent front suspension power steering and those lovely suspension seats on the driver side.
I still remember driving a Pajero Super Wagon Turbo way back in 1986. It was quite a machine and generously appointed too, including an oversized sliding sunroof and rear seats that folded to create two beds! And of course, to top it all off, the Pajero had personality. With many wins in the legendary Paris-Dakar Rally, the Pajero had created major a stir with four-wheel drive enthusiasts, and it wasn’t long before the Mitsubishi Pajero had become a global star. Sold in the US as the Mitsubishi Monteros and Dodge Radier, offered in the UK as the Mitsubishi Shogun and in the rest of the world as the Pajero, it had become a well-loved vehicle with die-hard loyalists. And for good reason of course.
When I was shopping for a four-wheel drive last July, there were many options from which to choose. Of course, there were the home used cars (whose home, I have never understood) which to me, were sick imports that would never be able to be serviced correctly in Ghana due to the lack of service expertise or spares or both. So, that wasn’t an option. In the new car market, there was the Toyota Fortuner which came with sterling Toyota credentials; there was a host of ‘soft roaders’ or crossovers, ranging from the Mitsubishi Outlander to all kinds of flashy Korean imports. And then, of course, there was the Pajero Sport. Seeing the Pajero Sport and taking it for a drive, my mind was quickly made up.
As I walked around the Pajero Sport, with one of my colleagues from work, we couldn’t help notice the incredible ground clearance, perfect for Ghana we agreed. We saw lower angles of attack and departure which give the car a go anywhere, climb anything stance undoubtedly masculine and with no apology. Popping the hood we saw the highly acclaimed 2.5 litres turbocharged ‘common rail’ diesel power plant, offering exceptional power and performance o the back of four modestly sized cylinders.
Having the car for almost a year, all I can say is that it has been an absolute joy. Offering exceptional off-road ability while maintaining excellent road manners, the Pajero Sport comes with Mitsubishi’s very own rally inspired ‘super select’ transmission. Allowing both low and high range four-wheel drive operation in addition to a central differential lock, which, as on-road enthusiasts will tell you, can be a lifesaver when the going gets tough. Putting it into the diff-lock mode is quite an awesome experience. With all four of my all terrain tires struggling in the sand, I decided to test the central di lock, which works like a charm. Once locked, you can feel the torque of the low ratio gears transferring power to both front and rear wheels in roughly equal measure that gets your vehicle out of the stickiest of situations, as long as you know the fundamentals of off-roading.On the road, the Pajero Sport is a surprisingly renowned road vehicle as well. The perky engine means that it gives this two-ton truck a perky acceleration, which is such a help on the highways. Diesels are prized for their power and torque and not their acceleration, and yet the common rail technology offered on this power plant means a spirited and smooth power band, without having to rev the engine too high. It has an amazingly good turning radius, which means that getting in and out of parking spots is a breeze. And of course, great visibility all-round.
It comes with a decent stereo system with steering mounted controls; the dashboard has a nifty little console that is ever willing to calculate your fuel economy over the past four hours (even draws a graph!) or show your altitude or give you a compass direction. There is also a barometer and of course a thermometer which offers readings as and when you like. The climate control is a nice feature as is the easy to read instrumentation and controls.
With fantastic service and support (and in a part of town that I can get to) scheduled maintenance is as quick as it is professional. Sum up? Great go anywhere car. On the downside, it can’t wait to get out-of-town and play.