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Reader test: 1992 Mitsubishi Pajero

2010-11-23 09:29

James Beukes, Cape Town

STUCK IN THE MUD: Reader James calls this Pajero a "beast with a small heart".

Since I have never driven a big 4x4 before I got the opportunity to drive my brother’s Mitsubishi Pajero for the weekend and I thought I will write a review about my experience.

I was a bit nervous at first driving this big beast around town - with tight corners and low garages - but I was very surprised by how this big wagon handles itself.

OK let’s start with some details first and I will let you know about my experience.


This Pajero is larger in all dimensions than that of a normal car, like my 1400 Polo.

Once I got going, I could hear a squeaking noise at the upper front door frame when driving over rough ground.

The suspension is soft and comfortable, but doing high speed corners is out of the question.
The wagons come well equipped with speed-sensitive power steering, the Super Select 4WD system, limited slip rear differential, coil spring rear suspension and four wheel disc brakes. Interior features include additional instruments, central locking, adjustable front seat belt shoulder anchorages, a detachable inspection lamp, lumbar and side support adjustments on the front seats and generally higher levels of trim and appointments.


Seating capacity is five and up to seven in this wagon.

Front occupants have good leg and head room, with adjustable seats to provide the best support and comfort, particularly in rough going.

Occupants in the second row seat also have good leg room. No problems when going on a road trip for this is more than enough space for all your luggage and even the baby pram and feeding chair that I must attach to my Polo’s roof if I want to take them on holiday.


The sensible, straightforward layout of controls and instruments makes for a pleasant and practical driving environment. All models have tilt adjustment for the steering wheel and all have a tachometer and a fuel gauge that shows tank contents whether or not the ignition is turned on.

Vision for general driving is good but there are some restrictions when backing or manoeuvring. Looking back in the wagon, your view is restricted by the head restraints, the side seats when folded to the sides, and the spare wheel.

The power steering makes light work of parking, but the wagons in particular, need a lot of space to turn around. I found myself doing a six-point turn instead of a three-point turn at a shopping mall, but if there is a side walk this wagon make easy work of parking and you don’t even know you’ve hit the pavement.


I did not expect neck-snapping acceleration when climbing into this wagon. If you do you'll be disappointed. These are heavy vehicles (over 1.9 tonnes) and getting this sort of mass moving from rest or from low speeds takes time.

This model is fitted with a performance exhaust and manifold and I was very much surprised with the V6 motor. Once under way, the V6 performs quite satisfactorily and pulls well when operating around its peak engine torque speeds.

Not surprisingly, a 15.5 litres/100 km for the V6 petrol model is a tough cookie to swallow since the petrol prices are sky high. Buyers will need to calculate the importance of these fuel cost savings against the higher purchase price of turbo diesel models and their requirements for performance. Whichever direction you choose; you'll go further in a Pajero wagon because it has a 92-litre fuel tank, as opposed to the 60- and 75-litre tanks in the SWB models.

Under acceleration, both the petrol and diesel models have more mechanical noise than your average family car, but at steady speeds, are acceptably quiet. When cruising at highway speeds, some wind noise can be heard from around the large external mirrors.

No one should expect car-like handling from a four-wheel drive - for one thing, the centre of gravity is much higher - however these new Pajeros rate amongst the best in their class on this aspect. There's still the usual body lean when cornering, but the wider track, longer wheelbase and revised damper and spring rates have produced better cornering and improved straight line stability at speed.


This beast is perfectly capable of handling conditions most frequently encountered by recreational 4WD owners.

The "Super Select" 4WD system that's standard on all but GL models is beneficial in that it provides the safety and dynamic benefits of full time 4WD over all types of on-road and off-road conditions, yet when road conditions are appropriate, allows drivers to choose the 2WD mode when desired.

As they say, first impressions last. The Mitsubishi Pajero is a fine example of 1990s’ style four-wheel driving - they are comfortable on-road, capable off-road, well finished, well equipped and relatively easy to drive. If this 1992 model handles so well I would love to get my hands on one of the latest models and do another review on it.

This is a beast with a small heart. People out there who are looking for some adventure will definitely benefit from one of these.

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