Living up to the legacy | MITSUBISHI PAJERO GLS Di-D
This classic marque has cycled through four generations in close to four decades – establishing quite a reputation for itself over its 36 years.
Its unparalleled success in the prestigious yet grueling Dakar Rally endurance race has given the Pajero the status of elite in terms of durability and quality – attributes that have made it highly coveted by both off-road enthusiasts and the average, everyday driver.
Even with the popularity and affordability of the Montero Sport, which is essentially derived from the Pajero, the latter continues to be a favorite badge by those who can afford its comparatively lofty price tag.
Given that the current-generation Pajero is based on the 2006 model – having only received updates in a span of 11 years – it would be easy to write it off versus current competition. I spent a weekend with the 2017 Mitsubishi Pajero GLS Di-D to see how it stocked up in its category and why it continues to be quite an attractive option for SUV buyers.
The fourth generation is a wee bit less boxy than its progenitor, but it does keep the squarish and upright form that’s been one of the most defining characteristics of the Pajero. It improves slightly on the third-generation style developed by famed Italian auto designer Pininfarina by introducing a more pronounced grille that instantly adds more toughness to its presence.
High intensity discharge (HID) headlamps come with auto dimming function once it detects oncoming traffic, and right below it are new horizontal LED daytime running lamps that allow the Pajero to somehow keep up to date with what the competition offers.
The well-defined wheel arches continue to be a visual expression of its prowess but sans any roof rails and with the cleaner lines, the Pajero seems more high society now than ever before.
If there’s a facet that needs an update, I would vote that the stepboards get it first. Currently, it’s too narrow even for my size nines, and without any clearance from the chassis, only my forefoot gets on it unless you step on it sideways.
That said, it’s not really much of a big deal as its SUV design makes getting in less of a climb compared to the Strada.
The Pajero’s cabin will generously seat five in the first two rows, but the third will be a tight fit for anyone older than 10.
All seats come leather-wrapped, the driver’s is 10-way adjustable, while the front passenger can go four ways. A couple of features inside need updating. First, the steering wheel which is only adjustable up and down, not telescopic, and there’s also the lack of compartments for modern, more sizable devices.
What’s fresh is a new multimedia system that uses a 6.5-inch touchscreen able to handle DVDs and CDs along with devices that connect via USB, AUX-in, and Bluetooth. The screen also doubles as a reverse monitor.
Above the touchscreen is a digital readout of the outside temperature, fuel consumption, drive range and average speed, and if you frequently set off from the beaten path, it also comes with a barometer and compass to help guide you along the way.
POWER AND PERFORMANCE
The two-generations-old 3.2L 16-Valve DOHC turbocharged and intercooled DI-D engine now comes with Variable Geometry Turbo (VGT) that gives the Pajero a healthy 189hp and 441Nm of torque.
There’s a certain amount of real-feel feedback from the steering wheel and the throttle that made me get a sense of the Pajero’s heft. Steering is pinpoint and relatively light considering this is vehicle weighs a little over two tons.
The INVECS-II five-speed AT with Sportronic Mode and Super Select II 4WD may seem ancient by current standards, but it shifts imperceptibly and doesn’t seem to shortchange the engine even at high-enough speeds. Even in the jungle that is EDSA during rush hour, the powertrain does an excellent job to make the drive tranquil and easy on the driver.
The Pajero’s suspension will mask every road imperfection in Metro Manila save for that terrible patch along C-5 southbound just after Acropolis that needs the DPWH’s attention stat.
It is this ride comfort and stability that makes the Pajero worth every single centavo of its P2.755 million price tag.
What would feel like chassis-breaking faults on the road are nothing but barely-there ripples inside the cabin, and even if the entire undercarriage is hustling and puffing, I made out but hushed squeaks – very low levels of NVH.
HERITAGE BUILT ON PERFORMANCE AND QUALITY
It is without a doubt expensive, but remember that performance and quality in any industry doesn’t really come cheap. Built to withstand more than the average amount of abuse a vehicle can take, everything feels solid and screwed on tightly like an armored car.
Between its Super Select II 4WD system (2H, 4H, 4H LC, and 4L LC) and its 4x4 capability – winning the Dakar Rally an unprecedented seven consecutive times (12 all in all) – you’d be hard-pressed to find an on-road and off-road situation it can’t handle.
The 2017 Mitsubishi Pajero GLS Di-D may be long in the tooth and short of a few modern amenities, but it more than makes up for what it lacks with a ride and drive that continues to live up to its legacy.
Positives: Solid build and performance worthy of its name
Negatives: Lacks modern amenities