Big, heavy, bluff, solid….all words that apply to the 2015 Mitsubishi Pajero. The last time A Wheel Thing drove a Pajero was back in 2007 and, sadly, pretty close to bugger all has changed.
Pajero is now exclusively diesel. There’s a good reason for that; the weight. It’s hefty, at 2.3 tonnes…..unladen. It’s a 3.2L V6 with 147 kW (3800 rpm)and a honking 441 Nm of twist at just two thousand revs. With just five gear ratios to play with, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s a touch out of date. Technologically, yes, however it’s a good spread with highway speeds seeing the lumbering behemoth roll along at pretty much where peak torque is. The gearbox is only slightly holding back the dynamics of the beast, with acceleration, from standstill, below peak torque, somewhat leisurely however rolling acceleration is rapid, responsive. There is an old style, lever system operated, transfer case for off roading, allowing two and four wheel drive high range or low range.
Fuel consumption is quoted at 9.0L per 100 km (combined), a figure that could, potentially, improve, if an extra ratio was fitted or, more appropriately, a diet was undertaken.
Mitsubishi took a file to some of the sharp edges, flattened out a few others and tickled the front and rear for a more integrated yet still heavy looking appearance. It looks short but isn’t, at 4900 mm in length because it’s 1900 mm in height. Wheelbase is reasonable at 2780 mm, meaning there’s huge overhangs at either end, but, given the off road intention, that’s understandable.
Pajero nods at modern times by including LED driving lights in a front bumper assembly, in this case built into the (optional) roo bar that was supplied with the test car. There’s two almost horizontal lines from front to rear, with the sidesteps that were fitted paralleling a swage line from headlights to D pillar. The tailgate is also old school, in that it’s not a lift back or split, it’s a huge horizontally opening thing, opening from left to right to suit Australian roads and a bit of muscle is required to move and hold it if the locking mechanism at the bottom doesn’t engage. The tailgate also holds the spare wheel (the Exceed rolls on 265/60/18 rubber and 12 spoke alloys)in a bulbous looking plastic shroud whilst the tail lights also hold the indicators, after a long, long time of them being in the rear bumper. There’s a rear door roof spoiler and sunroof to complete the Pajero picture.
On The Inside.
It’s here where the Pajero desperately needs surgery. In the ASX, Outlander, Lancer the driver gets a colour info screen between the two main dash dials; Pajero is lumbered with a fixed graphic that shows which driving wheels are engaged. The centre section of the dash does, however, get the fold out, SD card equipped, touch screen setup for audio and navigation but then goes 80’s retro with a dot matrix multi info screen above it. The location of the aircon vents haven’t moved in a decade and placing the USB port in the glovebox is so ergonomically wrong, it’s distasteful. Even the ignition sequence is 20th century, with the very top of the Mitsubishi tree still requiring a key to be inserted and firm pressure on the brake pedal, not light pressure. An imitation wood insert for the steering wheel looks good but on a hot day is almost impossible to lay fingers on and the Exceed really should have cooling fitted to the front seats, not just heating. It’s a seven seater with the third row well and truly hidden away but there are aircon vents for mid and rear rows.
The seating position is, naturally, quite high up and the somewhat more boxy style of the Pajero, compared to the somewhat more sleeker look of its competition, gives a good all around view.
On The Road.
It’s here that the Exceed surprises; yes, there’s some numbness in the steering and some oversteer but it has a damned good ride quality. It’s compliant and beautifully so over most road surfaces, with just enough initial give before tightening up, reducing bumpthump into the cabin and offering up a great level of comfort as it does.
Steering is surprisingly light for such a heavy vehicle, with about four turns lock to lock, meaning off road handling is best left to a light touch on the wheel. Taken off road, the Pajero Exceed simply pounded over and through a variety of surfaces, including gravel, rock, mud and some reasonable in depth washaways still full of muddy water. Put into 4WD high range, the Exceed was untroubled when pushed, coping equally well with twenty plus degree slopes, up and down.
Naturally, there’s an amount of body roll but it’s well controlled and predictable in the lean, thanks to the aforementioned suspension setup; it’s certainly not a vehicle that can be hustled but you can also feel safe when throwing it around a bit.
On road it’s quiet, belying its diesel powersource, with the engine only announcing its chattery behaviour when really pushed beyond 3500 revs and under hard acceleration. The Rockford Fosgate sound system in the Exceed is barely needing to be wound up to take advantage of the quality sound to be heard over the top of normal driving. The Exceed also has great brakes, understandably necessary when needing to haul up over two and a half tonnes…Final fuel economy ended up at 10L/100 kilometres; it was interesting watching the expected range rise and fall depending on the style of driving; especially on the run from the dealership to home where the range went up by 140 kilometres.
Although a positive experience, the Pajero shows its age in both technology and design. Sure, it works and, for some, that’s all that will be focussed on. That can’t be faulted, logically, however when there’s cheaper, more efficient and more modern vehicles available, it’s clear that the Pajero really does look tired. It’s one of the last four wheel drive style vehicles to be built on a “ladder chassis”, contributing to its weight and economy issues plus the lack of what’s taken for granted in other cars, such as colour LCD info screens or electronic off road selection, add to the feeling that the Pajero is in deep need of a refresh. Go here for information on the current range: http://www.mitsubishi-motors.com.au/vehicles/pajero/range. At the time of writing there was a Mitsubishi drive away price promotion on the Exceed, at $68810, for 2014 plated vehicles delivered up to mid February, 2015.