Mitsubishi has given the latest Pajero Sport a new face, based on the new more aggressive look of the Mitsubishi triton that was launched last year. As before, the SUV is a rebodied Triton ute, but Mitsubishi has added more technology to the vehicle. This includes a new powered tailgate, a digital instrument cluster, and a larger infotainment unit.
The Pajero Sport is 40mm longer than before but has lost 20kg in overall weight. A chunk of the weight loss comes from the new aluminium bonne, which weighs 7.8kg less than before.
Of course, the big question is how does this vehicle, based in a ladder chassis and live rear axle, handle and ride on the road? Mitsubishi has left all the running gear unchanged, but to be honest, the Pajero Sport didn’t need any improvements. It has always been one of the better ladder chassis SUVs in the market.
The ride quality obviously points to the ute chassis, but it doesn’t wobble and crash over rough road surfaces as you would expect. Handling is likewise acceptable, with the Pajero Sport changing direction quickly without much effort.
The 2.4-litre turbocharged 134kW/437Nm diesel engine and eight-speed automatic gearbox is unchanged, which gives the vehicle average acceleration but very smooth and competent gearchanges.
The automatic cruise control works well, keeping a consistent distance between you and traffic ahead when the traffic is traveling at a reasonably consistent speed. It does often need a bit of assistance from the accelerator if the traffic accelerates, say when moving from a lower speed limit to a higher speed limit.
Inside, the power operated front seats have good lateral support and cushions that are on the comfy side of medium support. There’s good head and legroom in the second-row seats, plus good access to the rear seats as the second row sat folds up and away. There’s good headroom in that third row but leg room is very much on the tight side, requiring the occupants to be children or Tom Cruise to sit comfortably.
One constant irritation is that the angle of the infotainment screen lets summer sunlight hit it almost all the time. While you can squint and see the display, when you put the vehicle into reverse you can barely see the reverse camera display.
The buttons on the steering wheel are not user friendly either. As an example. The volume buttons are not in the same spot as the forward/rearward track buttons as they are on most other cars.
The gear shift paddles are not really needed when the gearbox is so competent but in a nice touch they are mounted to the steering column rather than the steering wheel, so you always know where the paddles are when you are turning the wheel.
The Pajero Sport continues to be one of the better ute based SUVs on the market, but more work needs to be done, mostly around the infotainment unit, which needs to be shaded from the sun.