2016 Pajero Sport technical analysis
The 2016 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport has had its global reveal today debuting a lot of new off-road and safety tech.
The 4WD/SUV market can be split into several sub-categories, but let’s divide it like so – softroaders and serious 4WDs. The Challenger (also known as Pajero Sport elsewhere) has always been in the latter category, and the good news for offroader buyers is this latest version looks like it’s even better.
4WD System & offroad
Mitsubishi are still persisting with Super Select which offers 2WD, AWD, 4WD and low range modes, has been unchanged for ages and is fully explained here. It’s a shame they didn’t take the opportunity to ditch the 2WD mode (or at least default to AWD) and permit low-range use without the centre diff being locked. But at least the centre diff can be well and truly locked, so that is good to see. Of course, there’s traction control but no mention of a rear cross-axle locker.
There are 4WD and 2WD variants in Thailand. I doubt we’ll get the 2WD here.
Ground clearance is 218mm, which is ok but not brilliant.
Wading depth is 700mm which is pretty good. But of course you’d fit a snorkel.
There is hill start assist. Which you shouldn’t ever rely on.
Hill Descent Control is now available which operates from 2 to 20km/h. That will be impressive, as 2km/h is a really low speed for HDC, it’ll actually be usuable over big rocks now. The speed is adjustable via acclerator and brakes.
Off-Road Mode Selector
Mitsubishi joins everyone else in copying Land Rover’s Terrain Response. Here’s their version, with their words in italics:
Allows just the right amount of wheel slip to balance acceleration and vehicle stability over unpaved surfaces of
small stones and dirt.
Controls tire slip to provide optimum vehicle stability or to avoid getting stuck when. When the vehicle gets
moving, it permits some slip and reduces intervention by the Active Traction Control within the Active Stability &
Traction Control (ASTC) system which adapts to road surface conditions to eliminate any feeling of losing speed.
If it senses the vehicle is about to get stuck in mud or deep snow while moving it reduces engine control to
improve its ability to extract itself.
Hmm not keen on this “reducing engine control business”. Might need the power.
Controls wheel slip when accelerating from a standstill to avoid getting stuck and utilizes the limited-slip
differential effect to improve its ability to extract itself. When the vehicle is moving, it uses the Active Stability
Control and Active Traction Control systems which adapts to road surface conditions to eliminate any feeling of
losing speed. The automatic transmission uses a separate shifting pattern which makes active use of lower gears
to maintain forward drive.
I presume the “limited slip differential effect” is just traction control. Otherwise looks good.
Reduces drive loss by reducing wheel slip and utilizing its LSD effect to improve power and the sense of stability
at low speeds when one or more tires are not in touch with the ground or when climbing steep gradients. The
automatic transmission uses a separate shifting pattern which makes active use of lower gears to maintain
Pretty standard for a rock mode. No mention of really tightening up the traction control, hope it actually does so. Rock is only in low range, same as Land Rover.
I’ve used just about all these adaptive terrain systems and the only one so far which is actually any good is Land Rover’s, which you’d expect seeing as they invented it and have had a decade’s worth of development. Can’t wait to see if this one is anything more than just marketing.
Engines and transmission
Just one engine, a 2.4L turbodiesel automatic. Transmission is 8-speed. Maximum power is 133kW, torque 430Nm. This will not be a rocketship of a 4WD, but it should do the job well enough if the 8-speed is a smart as the modern ones usually are.
There are paddleshifts which are fixed-position, not connected to the steering wheel. Good move, so you can change gear with a full lock of steering on and not get confused. You can also change gear using the gearlever, forwards for change up, backwards for change down…which is the wrong way around. Come on Mitsubishi, get with the times.
Wheels and brakes
Tyres are 265/60/18. Calipers are 320mm front / 315mm rear so I expect 17″rims should fit it not 16s. Disc brakes all around.
A slightly worrying development is an electronic parkbrake (EPBs). I say this because EPBs have not had the best of runs offroad, so hopefully this one is properly offroad tested and not prone to fill with dust and mud then stop working a la Discovery 3. There is at least a manual release.
Up to the mark, but nothing groundbreaking, but good to see advanced safety features such as Blind Spot Warning:
And this. If you accidentally drive forwards when there’s something in the way the car detects the problem (hopefully) and stops. Yes, accidents have happened this way. Oddly, there appears to be no active cruise control.
Stability control is nothing new, but there’s quite a good diagram here so I thought I’d throw it in. More details on traction control and stability control here.
A seven-seater overseas, but just five in Australia. The usual 40/60 second row split, the second row doesn’t fully fold down but tumbles forwards, and doesn’t look like the second row folds totally flat.
Maybe this is one area for Pajero to improve on, because the above is not showing anything the market hasn’t already got. The photo below shows the space behind the third row which looks nice and generous.
It does look like a pretty spacious seven-seater though, being 100mm longer than the previous model:
This update looks impressive. There’s nothing which detracts from Challenger’s offroad credentials so concerns Mitsubishi may have followed Nissan’s lead with the Pathfinder are unfounded. Instead, looks like they’ve made a good offroad truck better. It is fair to expect that the latest generation of electronic aids like traction control are in place, and more sophisicated than the fairly aged versions fitted to current Challenger and Pajero. Certainly my recent test of the Outlander was impressive.
As it stands, the Challenger is now more advanced than the current model Pajero. It stands fair comparison with the Everest and Prado, and is certainly a specification ahead of the Fortuner.
The product planners at Ford, Mitsubishi and Toyota are going to have their work cut out figuring price points…and I hope the aftermarket comes up with something to hide those hideous tail lights! What were they thinking!