A little earlier this year we took some of SA’s most popular SUVs to Botswana for a vehicle safari through the Khwai Conservancy. We’ll be posting reviews of all the vehicles that accompanied us over the next couple of weeks. You can read our travel article about the trip here, and you can find all the other vehicle articles under the “Driving Impressions” category.
Taking on the Toyota Fortuner in the medium SUV segment is a bit like facing Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros armed only with a hockey stick. Frankly, the Toyota seems untouchable. But now the latest Mitsubishi Pajero Sport appears to be the candidate with the best shot of challenging its superiority
Sales charts don’t lie. And if you look at the monthly numbers the Toyota Fortuner is churning out, there’s no question that it is the king of the SUVs in SA.
All the other contenders in this class are essentially in the race for the runner-up position, and at the moment the Chevrolet Trailblazer appears to be the official No 2.
However, if you are the non-conformist type who doesn’t like to run with the rest of the pack, there’s now the option of the updated Mitsubishi Pajero Sport in this segment. Although not new, this model fixes a few of the original Pajero Sport’s perceived “wrongs”.
The original Sport was powered by the solid but long-in-the-tooth 3,2-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel engine. The revitalised Sport now has a more modern 2,5-litre turbodiesel engine, coupled to either a five-speed automatic or five-speed manual gearbox.
The new engine delivers 131 kW of power and 400 Nm of torque in the manual application, and 350 Nm for the five-speed auto shifter. Besides boasting more horses, the new mill is also notably smoother than the 3,2-litre warhorse. Ditto with the five-speed automatic gearbox – which comes with sporty and practical paddle shifters behind the steering wheel.
The Sport still uses Mitsubishi’s awesome Super Select 4×4 system, which allows you to run in 2WD, 4WD with an open centre differential, 4WD with a locked centre differential, and 4WD low range. There is also a rear differential lock and 215mm of claimed ground clearance. All in all, this Sport is very capable off the beaten track.
On the inside, the seven-seater Pajero Sport gets a fancy new infotainment system with Bluetooth connectivity, six airbags and plenty of leather for the seats. The last row still folds flat into the floor.
Probably the best news is the price. It is unchanged, despite all the upgrades. Indeed, in its class the comfy Pajero Sport is one of the unsung heroes.