It's 'baaack' ..... an old time favourite, the Mitsubishi Pajero 'shortie' has returned with the expanded line-up in the new NS series.
For whatever reason, the Pajero shortie was absent from the market for a very long time.
Yet the concept of a real 4x4 in this size range has very real appeal. Perhaps Mitsubishi has reached that same conclusion.
The Mitsubishi Pajero subject to our drive programme, on this occasion, is the new NS series in short wheelbase guise. Power is supplied by a delightful 3.2 litre 4 cylinder turbocharged (with intercooler) diesel engine, which provides a worthy 358 Nm of torque at 2,000 rpm. The transmission is a quite pleasing 5-speed automatic, featuring "sports mode" sequential style shift change.
The new Mitsubishi Pajero short wheelbase models measure up at 4,385 mm (length), 1,875 mm (width), 1,880 mm (height) and the wheelbase is 2,545 mm. These figures compare to 4,900 mm, 1,875 mm, 1,900 mm and 2,780 mm (respectively) for the NS series Pajero wagon.
The NS Pajero model range is expansive, featuring petrol and diesel engines, manual and automatic transmission. And, as indicated, the NS series includes the short wheelbase version in addition to the traditional and quite popular Pajero wagon. Prices begin at $40,990 (RRP) for the shortie and $49,490 (RRP) for the wagon.
The test car, a Pajero 'R' diesel automatic short wheelbase model, is currently priced from $42,990 (RRP) plus options. The test car featured attractive red metallic paint ($350), which is one of numerous options available.
Standard equipment includes (but isn't limited to): air conditioning; audio system featuring a 6-disc in-dash CD player; central locking; cruise control; 3 x child restraint anchor points; leather bound steering wheel; leather bound gearshift knob, transfer lever and parking brake lever; split rear seat; alloy wheels; colour-coded bumpers; mud flaps; roof rails; and, best of all, the highly prized Mitsubishi All Terrain Technology system. No cargo blind is fitted to the base model.
On the road, the Pajero shortie is very easy to manage. The traditionally high driving position is evident. This permits the driver to have a very good view of the road and the surrounding environment. It is the same with the instruments and controls, as everything is in view or easy reach. The steering wheel is adjustable for height, but not for reach.
The ride is quite pleasant, being both quiet and comfortable. Handling is easy, braking is quite ample (disc brakes at each wheel) and the steering (rack and pinion) is satisfying as it is not sloppy like some 4x4s.
The driver has some comfort and convenience features which should be standard on all cars, such as a left footrest, together with steering wheel mounted controls for both the audio system and the cruise control. The Pajero also features a deep storage bin in the centre console.
The rattly diesel engine sounds great as it represents the heritage of real four-wheel drives. It performs well and is superbly suited to the automatic transmission. Therefore, upon takeoff, acceleration is smooth, considerable smoother than it would be with manual transmission.
Fuel consumption is listed as 10.5 litres per 100 kms on the combined cycle. We are comfortable with this figure. Fuel tank capacity is 69 litres for the shortie (wagon has an 88 litre tank).
During hundreds of kilometres of driving this unit, I never considered controlling this car as a chore. It is a very easy unit to drive. Hence, the Pajero shortie is suitable for just about everyone, but, perhaps, it may even appeal to those who don't enjoy driving because, it must be repeated ..... the Pajero shortie is very easy to manage.
The seating up the front features multiple adjustments which provide a good level of comfort. In the rear, three adults can squeeze in. Legroom is adequate in the rear and, as such, would suit two adults in comfort for longer journeys, but three adults in the rear is, perhaps, best suited for shorter trips.
Luggage space is reduced when compared to the Pajero wagon, just as you would imagine. The boot space is good for weekend trips and for couples, but a family may find it too easy to fill the luggage space for an extended trip, especially if camping equipment is involved. However, if luggage space was a primary factor in determining which vehicle to buy, the Pajero shortie would probably not be included on the list for consideration, unless a trailer was also included in the equation.
For those interested in towing, each of the Mitsubishi Pajero models (NS series) has a towing capacity of 750 kg (unbraked) and 2,500 kg (braked). The towball download is rated at 250 kg.
For front occupant protection, just 2 airbags are fitted. Although side and curtain airbags are optional at $1,500.
To improve the Pajero, only a handful of suggestions come to mind and they relate only to comfort and convenience as the driving dynamics and the superb ability of the Pajero is unquestionable. The areas for improvement, in my opinion, are the door pockets which would be more useful if they were a little wider and the inclusion of a reach adjustment for the steering wheel is always appreciated by many drivers.
No matter how hard I tried, I just could not fault the Pajero shortie. So for the short back and sides treatment, the Pajero is a cut above the rest. And it's only $43,340 (as tested), plus on-road costs, which represents superb value for a real 4x4 that has a long and successful career behind it.
The Mitsubishi Pajero shortie with diesel and auto is very suitable for adventure seekers, caravaners, committed four-wheelers, grey nomads, industry operatives, professional types and property owners. But, clearly, the broad appeal of the Mitsubishi Pajero shortie has an even wider audience to satisfy because almost everyone is likely to find enormous appeal with this highly attractive on-roader/off-roader.
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