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Driven: Seven up for Mitsubishi Pajero Sport

Booster shot: The third row added to Pajero Sport GLS and Exceed variants comes at no extra cost, and has brought more family buyers into Mitsubishi showrooms as a result.

Broader buyer base among benefits for Mitsubishi as Pajero Sport SUV adds third row


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27 Oct 2016

THE addition of a third row to the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport has brought more family customers into the large SUV’s potential customer base since the seven-seat variants were introduced mid-year as the Japanese brand now looks to broaden its appeal to fleets and other areas of the market.

Launched in December last year as a five-seater only, the Triton-based Pajero Sport was upgraded to seven-seat status – for no additional cost – on mid-series GLS and flagship Exceed variants, leaving the base GLX as a five-seater with fleet sales aspirations.

Speaking to GoAuto at a drive event for the seven-seat version this week, Mitsubishi Motors Australia Limited (MMAL) product planning manager James Toll said the addition of the third row has brought more family customers into showrooms.

“When we started with it, it was heavily skewed to retirees but with seven seats we’re also finding a more family-oriented customer coming in,” he said.

“The Pajero Sport is a private-sale champion, it’s a clear market leader in its sub-segment.

“We’re also working more on our fleet market – we can see more opportunity there.

“We’re trying to keep the line-up simple, so the seven seats is on the GLS and Exceed, leaving the GLX as a five-seater, mainly because that’s the kind of vehicle fleets will want to use, with more cargo space.”

MMAL director of sales and marketing Tony Principe added that the Pajero Sport, which has racked up 4415 sales this year (to the end of September), has more than doubled the sales average of its Challenger predecessor – itself once available as a seven-seater.

“We’re averaging 500 a month with the Pajero Sport without being particularly aggressive,” he said. “It’s very strong.”

Equipment levels are largely the same with the third row, but there are detail changes such as the full-length curtain airbags on GLS and Exceed now covering all three rows. Roof-mounted ventilation for second- and third-row passengers is also now standard.

Unlike the veteran Pajero wagon, and various competitors in the seven-seater SUV market, the split-folding third row’s backrest folds down onto the floor but the seat bases flip up to nestle into the backrest of the second row.

The result is a reduction in cargo space from the 673 litres of the five-seater to 502 litres for the seven-seater when carrying five occupants.

Access to the third row is via a fold-forward second row.

With seven aboard there is 131 litres of cargo space, with some additional underfloor cubby space. When all rear seats are folded, the five-seater GLX will offer 1624 litres, while the models capable of carrying seven have 1488 litres of storage space.

The Pajero Sport’s drivetrain and chassis are unchanged. Power comes from a 2.4-litre turbo diesel-engine producing 133kW at 3500rpm and peak torque of 430Nm at 2500rpm, putting it to ground via an eight-speed automatic transmission and the versatile Super Select II four-wheel-drive system.

The options available to the driver include rear-wheel drive, all-wheel drive (with the centre differential open for sealed-surface driving), 4WD with the centre diff locked, and low range.

The 4WD system can be further tailored to the terrain, with its Off Road Mode covering gravel, mud/snow, sand and rock settings.

Official combined-cycle fuel consumption remains at 8.0 litres per 100km (17 per cent better than the previous Challenger), despite a slight weight gain brought with the seven-seat variants – 55kg for the GLS and 60kg for the Exceed.

The Pajero Sport sits on a front suspension comprising double wishbones, stabiliser bar and coil springs, while a three-link rigid axle with coil springs is employed at the rear.

A maximum braked towing capacity of 3.1 tonnes is unchanged by the seating upgrade and just keeps it atop the list of its main competition.

Ground clearance remains at 218mm, with an approach angle of 30 degrees, ramp-over of 23.1 and departure angle of 24.2 degrees (without the low-slung tower), all of which is largely comparable to the primary competitors.

Toyota’s Fortuner claims 225mm of clearance, the Holden Trailblazer’s clearance is 219mm for the LT (the LTZ has 231mm) and Isuzu’s MU-X has ground clearance of 220mm in the LS-M or 230mm for the up-spec models.

Listed wading depth for the Pajero Sport is 700mm, 100mm up on both the Holden and Isuzu and matched by the Fortuner.

Priced from $45,000 plus on-roads, the GLX is fitted standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, LED rear lights and daytime running lights, an electric park brake, keyless entry/start, fully adjustable steering column, digital radio reception and full smartphone integration through Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.

As well as curtain airbags, the Pajero Sport’s safety features list also includes front, front-side and a driver’s knee airbag, automatic door locking, a reversing camera, rear parking sensors, hill ascent and descent control, and trailer sway control.

The entry-level five-seater is positioned $600 below the entry-level manual 4WD 130kW/380Nm Isuzu MU-X, $2800 below the Isuzu in automatic guise, $2990 beneath the 147kW/500Nm Colorado Trailblazer LT and 130kW/450Nm Fortuner GX, all of which have seven seats.

Ford’s 147kW/470Nm Ranger-based Everest also features in this category, although pricing from $54,990 plus on-road costs for the entry-level Ambient places it almost $10,000 more expensive than the Pajero Sport GLX.

The mid-spec GLS is priced from $48,500 – unchanged with the addition of seven seats and less than $1000 more than its entry-level Toyota, Holden and Isuzu rivals – but more than offsets the price gap with a features bump that includes dual-zone climate control, leather trim, auto headlights/wipers, auto-dimming centre mirror and rear differential lock.

The top-spec Exceed starts from $52,750 and adds heating and power adjustment for the front seats, a rear DVD player and a speaker count that rises to eight.

It also has a ‘multi around view’ monitor, blind-spot monitoring, forward collision warning and braking, and ultrasonic mis-acceleration mitigation system to guard against unintended forward accelerations from standstill if obstacles are detected.

2016 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport pricing*
GLX (a)$45,000
GLS (a)$48,500
Exceed (a)$52,750
*Excludes on-road costs

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