Mitsubishi's quintessential Pajero has re-emerged from the manufacturer's recent battle, prepared to again do battle in the tough SUV segments.
After the financial crisis the manufacturer was faced with about two years ago, the local subsidiary is again optimistic about its prospects and is looking forward to the introduction later this year of the new Outlander and Lancer, too.
And following its seventh consecutive win in the Dakar rally this year, Mitsubishi is especially buoyant about the local arrival of its new Dakar inspired Pajero.
The manufacturer maintains that several of its Dakar developments have found their way into the passenger models, which surely can't be a bad thing.
Long and short wheelbases
The all-new fourth generation Pajero uses a monocoque construction with a double wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension arrangement. It is available in two body styles - a long- and short wheelbase - with the longer version sold standard with seven seats and a third row that folds flat into the floor.
Both the five- and seven-seater models are styled according to Pajero's traditionally boxy lines, though the proportions on the three door model do tend to be more pleasing on the eye.
However, from the front, there is no distinction between the models that both show off an imposing front end dominated by chrome slats extending across the front of the grille and squared off headlight cluster.
Pajero does buck the trend in certain aspects, including tacking the spare wheel on to the swinging tailgate where several contenders have now taken to winching the spare beneath the body.
Inside the cabin, the interior is rather luxurious with seats more padded for better comfort and a Rockford Fosgate audio system developed especially for the Pajero.
The facia is neat and symmetrical, with a good mix of chrome-like accents and dark, durable plastics.
Audio and cruise control functions can also be accessed using steering wheel controls, though this would take some time getting used to since the positioned along the inside hub of the wheel.
Two new engines, a 3.2 turbodiesel and a 3.8 petrol V6, are being introduced with this model and both are mated with a five-speed automatic transmission.
Outputs for the turbodiesel are 121 kW at 3 500 r/min and 373 Nm of peak torque at 2 000 r/min. Top speed on the short wheelbase version, according to Mitsubishi, is 177 km/h.
The 3.8-litre V6 comes with 182 kW and 329 Nm on tap at 6 000 and 2 750 r/min respectively. Mitsubishi claims a top speed of 200 km/h.
On and off road
Driving the short wheelbase turbodiesel version on blacktop, the performance through the automatic gearbox was fair, but hardly breathtaking. It should, however, be able to keep up with general urban traffic with the least amount of effort.
Off road, the three-door impressed with its ability to scramble through scrub and over sandy terrain with relative ease. Pajero, too, is fitted with a Super Select system that allows for toggling between various two and four-wheel drive configurations, based on the terrain. Shifts "on the fly" from two to four-wheel drive are possible at speeds up to 100 km/h.
Safety equipment includes Mitsubishi's Active Stability and Traction control system, ABS, EBD, engine brake assist control, and side, curtain and dual stage front airbags.
A two year warranty and three-year/60 000 or five-year/100 000 km maintenance plans are standard on all models.
3.2 DI-D GLS LWB Auto 4x4 - R487 800
3.2 DI-D GLS SWB Auto 4x4 - R389 900
3.2 DI-D GLX LWB Auto 4x4 - R393 000
3.8i GLS LWB Auto 4x4 - R477 300
3.8i GLS SWB Auto 4x4 - R379 100