Legend(ary) Pajero in SA

2012-09-21 11:58

CAPE TOWN - The 1970s and ‘80s were a difficult period for Mitsubishi as the Japanese automaker battled dipping sales due to being in the shadow of more established Japanese brands such as Toyota and Honda.

To help turn its business troubles around, the automaker began Project Pajero, with a concept shown in 1978. A near production ready version was shown at the Tokyo auto show in 1982 with production beginning in the same year.

The first generation Pajero was produced from 1982 to 1991, a second from 1991 – 1999 and a third from 1999 to 2006 to the fourth and current generation.


Mitsubishi demonstrated its new 4x4s prowess by taking on the Dakar Rally and was the outright winner at only its third attempt, in 1985, with Patrick Zaniroli and Jean da Silva taking the honours.

Since then it has become the most successful Dakar vehicle to date having been crowned champion 12 times, not to mention a seven year winning streak from 2001-07. Perhaps its most famous win was in 1992 as part of the then leg from Paris, France to Cape Town.

In 2012 Mitsubishi celebrates 30 years of its iconic 4x4 celebrations, with a special edition, called the Legend, in South Africa.


The Legend is powered by a 3.2 diesel capable of 140kW@3800rpm and with a torque peak of 441Nm@2000rpm.

The engine is mated to a six-speed auto with 4WD select. Drivers have access to four modes - 2H and 4H (two-wheel and four-wheel high range) as well as 4HLc and 4LLc (four-wheel drive high range with centre differential and low-range with centre differential).

While the 2H mode is suited for city and open-road driving 4H is used on irregular surfaces for added traction.

The 4HLc distributes power across all four wheels on particularly poor surfaces. In 4LLc mode you’ll able to tackle steep ascents and declines as the vehicle maximises low-end torque.

Whether it’s travelling across Die Hel in Oudtshoorn , Western Cape or braving the Swartberg Pass the Pajero proved highly capable of tackling any condition. Minor issues stemmed from engaging either one of the low-range modes.

Although you can engage either high-range while travelling at 100km/h or below, drivers will have to first engage neutral then select low-range. A few drivers' attempts to traverse particularly steep inclines proved fruitless as the low-range failed to engage... although some managed to ascend in two-wheel drive!

The Legend has a towing capacity of 3300kg (braked) and 235mm ground clearance. 

Essentially it’s a kitted up version of the 3.2Di-D GLX diesel. Mitsubishi has targeted its Legend towards avid outdoor enthusiasts by adding R120 000 in extras above the standard spec, with the new kit pushing the pricing of the standard GLX (R529 000) to R619 900.

Is it worth it? Well let’s look at what you’re getting...


The Legend is tailored towards serious off-road adventurers as the Japanese automaker partners with South African outdoor specialist Safari Centre.

Exterior equipment includes LED spot-lights, a tow ball, rock sliders and under-body protection plates. For those wanting to setup camp on the fly, a roof rack is fitted with a gas canister and two jerry cans. The roof rack doubles as a table.

The Legend has a full recovery kit including a high-lift jack and a spade. At the front you can spot a snorkel* and under the bonnet the model is equipped with an air compressor for inflating the standard all-terrain tyres.

The seats are fitted with heavy-duty covers and a Garmin GPS can be mounted to the windscreen or dash.

At the rear buyers will have access to a Luna 50-litre freezer and two heavy duty camping chairs.


If you’re in the market for a rough-and-tumble vehicle well suited to life in the great outdoors, the Mitsubishi Pajero could be  great choice, even more so with all the standard kit available on the Legend, of which only 30 are available now with more planned.


As 2012 winds down Mitsubishi will launch its new Triton single-cab in October. In 2013, its face-lifted ASX and the new Outlander will arrive in SA. The ASX, launched only in 2012, has been around for years internationally.

In 2013 it receives a makeover as well as a diesel and 4x4 variant.

*Mitsubishi says the snorkel is currently is short supply due to a global shortage

Mitsubishi Pajero Legend - R619 900 (includes three-year or 100 000km ’s warranty and five-year or 100 000km maintenance plan).

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  • heiner.freese.5 - 2012-09-21 16:30

    If only one could get parts for this Japanese junk! I have an Outlander and have been waiting for 3 months for bushes and some or other crap for the suspension - it feels like I'm driving an ox wagon at the moment! Stay with Mercedes or VW if you can.

  • christiaan.dupreez.9 - 2012-09-21 16:46

    a roofrack that doubles as a table?

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