Car News

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.

superselect

Comprehensive Car Insurance

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.

angles

Off-Road Mode Selector

Mitsubishi joins everyone else in copying Land Rover’s Terrain Response. Here’s their version, with their words in italics:

Gravel

Allows just the right amount of wheel slip to balance acceleration and vehicle stability over unpaved surfaces of
small stones and dirt.
 

Mud/Snow
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.

 
Sand

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.

 
Rock

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
forward drive.

 
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.
 

interior_img_07
The dial is the Super Select transmission control on the left is Hill Descent Control, then the 4WD Mode Select control and on the right is the EPB (electronic park brake).

interior_img_28

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.

engine

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.

Suspension

Coils all round, independent front, live rear.  There’s a thicker swaybar up front which will improve bodyroll on road but do nothing for flex offroad.  No trick disconnects or air suspension.
 
suspension

Safety

Up to the mark, but nothing groundbreaking, but good to see advanced safety features such as  Blind Spot Warning:

bsw

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.

UMSThere’s surround cameras which are handy when parking or working in tight spots offroad:

cameras

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.

ASC

interior_img_08
Pushbutton start and, presumably, keyless entry. Below is ASC off (stability control), disabling of parking sensors, and disabling of UMS. Who knows what the blank plate is for…

Interior

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. 

seating2

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. 

3rdrow

It does look like a pretty spacious seven-seater though, being 100mm longer than the previous model:

seating

Commentary

 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!
 
 
interior_img_01


9 Comments

  1. Shane
    October 5, 2015 at 12:38 am — Reply

    Hi Robert

    Sure looks like Mitsubishi have got their act together with this new 2016 model Challenger.

    Unfortunately for many of us owners of the previous PB/PC model Challenger, we have been stuck with what many call a real lemon!!

    If you have a spare moment check out the Challenger section in the Pajero 4wd club of Victoria public forum, many unhappy owners with ongoing issues that are never being addressed.

    Here is a quick rundown of a number of issues ive had with my Challenger,

    –Sudden and random loss of power, happens anywhere from accelerating away from the lights, to cruising down the freeway at 100kph.
    –Airconditioning that shuts down when the outside temp gets to 35degs+
    –This is soon followed by the auto that locks into 2nd gear as a self protect mode to stop the auto from overheating, very common while sitting in peak hour traffic while on citylink.
    –A constant cyclic vibration with a droning sound from about 70kph up to 110kph, this is despite many attempts by the dealer to fix.
    –A very poorly programmed Traction Control and Stability control systems, the Traction Control system only cuts power and leaves you with no forward progress,

    What has been fixed

    –All Airbag wiring looms replaced due to continual issues throughout ownership.
    –Engine wiring loom
    –Engine mounts and tailshaft replaced in attempts to fix vibration.
    –Many switches and connections to fix electrical issues, the in car communication system was un functional for about 8months after being shorted out during the replacement of airbag looms.
    –Front engine seals after leaking oil
    –Turbo replaced after seals leaking oil
    –many parts and trims fixed after falling off
    — i could go on but you get an idea of the quality of workmanship of this vehicle.

    The car was taken back, but i still lost many 10s of thousands in legal costs and depreciation.
    You mention that you have a few questions for Mitsubishi, could one of these ask if future owners of Challengers will enjoy a much better experience during their time of ownership, and should the new car end up with many common issues will Mitsubishi work on ways to improve the product to reduce these issues?
    I have had a number of Mitsubishi’s over the years and all have been extremely cars, but my Challenger was a real DOG.

    thanks for taking the time to read my post

    • October 5, 2015 at 8:02 am — Reply

      Hi Shane – thanks, great post. Mitsu did not get back to me with answers I can use. However, I am going to the Toyko Motor Show later this month and will be spending time test-driving the new Challenger while I am there. You can be sure I’ll bring back as much information as possible. I will ask what issues there have been with reliability.

      –A very poorly programmed Traction Control and Stability control
      systems, the Traction Control system only cuts power and leaves you with
      no forward progress,

      No, Challenger ETC does help maintain progress. It’s not a great calibration, but it does work. Other Mitsu vehicles are better calibrated, eg Outlander. Here’s a video for proof:

  2. […] 2016 Mitsubishi Challenger [ Pajero Sport ] technical analysis – Rock is only in low range, same as Land Rover. I’ve used just about all these adaptive … tested and not prone to fill with dust and mud then stop working a la Discovery 3. A seven-seater, but nothing exciting. The usual 40/60 second row split … […]

  3. […] 2016 Mitsubishi Challenger [ Pajero Sport ] technical analysis – 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. Mitsubishi … of course you’d fit a snorkel. […]

  4. November 29, 2015 at 4:25 pm — Reply

    […] it. We have a technical analysis of Pajero Sport to supplement this review which you can read here. PRACTICAL MOTORING had the chance to drive the new Pajero Sport in Japan, ahead of its […]

  5. Dave Woods
    February 7, 2017 at 9:58 pm — Reply

    Dealer advise adding the snorkle won’t change wading depth. Go figure.

    • Steven Seres
      February 7, 2017 at 10:26 pm — Reply

      Never does … the is a lot more to it then just the snorkel … breathers for diffs, transmission etc …….. and not to mention your door seals 😉

  6. Dave Woods
    February 7, 2017 at 9:59 pm — Reply

    17″ Rims won’t fit. Need to stick with 18″s

  7. Steven Seres
    February 7, 2017 at 10:20 pm — Reply

    ground clearance less then Challenger (only by 2mm)
    approach angle less then Challenger (only by 6 degrees)
    departure angle less then Challenger (only by 1 degree)
    specs referred to by product brochure

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Robert Pepper

Robert Pepper

Robert Pepper is a motoring journalist, offroad driver trainer and photographer interested in anything with wings, sails or wheels. He is the author of four books on offroading, and owns a modified Ford Ranger PX which he uses for offroad touring. His other car is a Toyota 86 which exists purely to drive in circles on racetracks, and that's when he isn't racing his Nissan Pulsar. Visit his website: www.l2sfbc.com or follow him on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/RobertPepperJourno/ or buy his new ebook!