The Mitsubishi Pajero is well-known for winning the Paris Dakar rally, but how does this vehicle measure up in the real world, i.e. Gauteng traffic (aaargh!), or long trips with the kids? After a week of testing, I can honestly say that this vehicle is actually very capable, as long as you can get used to its sheer size. Once you get past the size however, the vehicle is absolutely luxurious in terms of interior space and proportions. In other words, a bit like driving around in your lounge, complete with dual dvd players for the backseat passengers.
The latest upgrade on the vehicle changed the cosmetics of the vehicle considerably from its predecessor. The most obvious change are the huge silver headlights and tail-lights, as well as a revised bumper treatment. This gives the vehicle a very sporty and aggressive look, without being overwhelming. The inside of the vehicle has grown such that it can now accommodate seven passengers, as long as you don’t require a boot, as the third row takes up almost the full luggage bay. This third row of seats has a clever folding system, which allows the seats to be folded flat into the floor of the luggage bay when not in use. If you are planning to accommodate only five people, then the luggage bay is cavernous, as I discovered. You can allow your wife to take just about all she wants on the holiday trip, and still have space for your golf clubs. What a pleasure.
The inside of the cabin is very well laid out. The instrumentation cluster has the usual speedometer and tachometer, but also has a display that indicates the wheels that are being driven by the motor, i.e. two rear wheel or all four. There is a multi-function display above the sound system, which gives you information about both the instantanious and the average fuel consumption, speed, barometric pressure and altitude, not to mention a compass. The vehicle comes with a fantastic Rokford Forsgate sound system, with speakers strategically and generously placed including on the fifth door (boot) for those braai days. The sound system also has a subwoofer in the boot, if you are in a mood for feeling the music and not just hearing it. The vehicle comes standard with all the creature comforts that you will need, including, panoramic sunroof, heated electric front seats, leather, air-conditioning (including separate controls for the rear), electric windows and automatic transmission. The vehicle I had was fitted with dual screen dvd players in the front seat headrests, which my kids loved and so did I, as I never heard “are we there yet” throughout the test period.
On the road, the vehicle is very capable, a bit sluggish for my liking but sufficient power to travel fully loaded at the national speed limit of 120km/h. Overtaking is also acceptable for a vehicle of this size. Parking is a bit difficult, purely because of the size, but the parking sonar does help, especially when reversing. The vehicle suspension is very soft on the road and swallows the bumps easily, making the current South African roads (with road works) a pleasure on which to drive.
Off road, however, is where this vehicle is at its best. Its gearbox allows one to drive the vehicle in the following configurations, two wheel drive high (this is for high speed tar roads), four wheel drive high (for gravel roads), and four wheel drive with central diff lock (for more rugged terrain and those sticky situations). The one thing missing from this vehicle that surprised me was the lack of hill descent control, which has become standard on most of the Pajero’s competitors.
Overall the vehicle grew on me and was a really fun car to drive out of town. Fuel consumption for the 3.2 DiD diesel was around 11L/100 km overall, which is not bad for a vehicle of this size. I have to admit the high driving position and size did make me feel invincible, especially next to the Gauteng taxis, which gave me an extra sense of safety. All in all, a well rounded vehicle especially if you plan to drive off the beaten path. Enjoy the adventure.
Car supplied courtesy of Mitsubishi Motors SA.
Azim Omar CA(SA) is the Project Director: Small Practices, SAICA.
Erratum: In our May 2009 edition we incorrectly priced the Mercedes M Class, the correct price is R660 000.