The SUV title is tossed around so carelessly it gets difficult to differentiate between pretend SUVs and proper ones, mainly because while both definitely look like SUVs one definitely doesn't work like one. There are small SUVs which are basically taller, wider hatchbacks. But they are not SUVs …deep down you know it.
They range in sizes, forms, and functions. Yes, they give you the sense of practicality and utility of an SUV but they’re all the same: efficient front-wheel-drive cars, driving on tires as small as 185mm without any on-road or off-road prowess. Because of this haphazard labeling, larger and proper SUVs are having a hard time. Not only do they have to compete with their direct rivals, they also have to better the smaller pretend SUVs at their own practicality and utility game.
Today I have one such SUV that comes from the land of the rising sun. It holds the SUV torch high and takes on both the real deals and the pretenders of the segment. Welcome to the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport.
Presence. This is the first word that comes into your head when you look at the 2020 Pajero Sport. Just look at it! Mitsubishi has brought all its current models up-to-date with its trademark design language and the 2020 Pajero Sport. With its signature Dynamic Shield grille on the front, it is one of the best looking cars from the company, second only to the 2020 L200 pick-up truck.
The massive front end is dominated mostly by the dynamic shield grille and headlight combination, higher bonnet, and new running lights and bumpers. The headlights are a tad smaller and the fog lamps bigger with both the units getting an all-LED treatment. All of which makes the SUV look tougher and more athletic than the outgoing model.
The rear of the 2020 Pajero Sport looks boxy with subtle curves where the roof falls into the boot lid. The taillights have not deviated a lot from the outgoing model but the vertically-arrayed tail lights have been reduced in size and the bumper made larger which makes the tail end more appealing. The 2020 Pajero Sport is a complete package and an attention grabber on the road and also oozes off-road capabilities even when parked.
The seats are comfortable and come with loads of electronic adjustment. The front seats are comfy but are set too high even in its lowest limit; while shorter drivers will find their driving position rather easily, things might not be the same for taller individuals.
Yes, the second row can easily accommodate three adults with utmost comfort. But you can’t help but wish for a couple more inches because at the end of the day the Pajero Sport is a big SUV, which raises a bigger question: where did all that space actually go? The answer… a third row! And a rather spacious one at that. Don’t expect the second-row level of space; the third row is just enough to take two adults on a fairly long journey.
All that space allocation has also gone into the boot of the Pajero Sport. Lift up the powered tailgate and what you find is a space large enough to accommodate a week’s worth of luggage for all seven passengers on board. Fold down the second and third rows and the cabin would probably be roomier than the room Harry Potter had growing up in Privet Drive.
Weighing over two tons, getting the Pajero Sport moving is no simple task. To do just that, the 2020 Pajero Sport is powered by a 2.4-liter turbo engine that guzzles diesel like my non-alcoholic-self guzzles juice. The SUV produce 178 bhp and peak torque of 430 Nm.
On the tarmac the Pajero Sport is planted as all big SUVs should be, but it turns in rather quickly and with pinpoint precision. Once the smooth tarmac ends and the tough terrains begin, the Pajero Sport casually pulls out a large crate labeled “Heavy Artillery”, and tanks along, making you feel way more relieved than you ever were when on the tarmac. The 2020 Pajero Sport comes with a Super Select 4WD-II system that electronically switches between drive modes and splits engine torque 40 percent front and 60 percent rear when in full-time 4WD mode, and that’s just one weapon on its arsenal.
You have a two-wheel drive and full-time four-wheel-drive modes. Using the drive mode selector dial, you can switch between 2WD (2H) and 4WD (4H, 4HLc, 4LLc). When the going gets rough, you can lock the center differential by entering the 4HLc setting for rugged terrain or the 4LLc setting for inclines, mud, and snow. You can also lock the rear differential which minimizes differences in rotation between the rear wheels to ensure robust traction even on sand, mud and rocky surfaces.
Other weapons to help the Pajero Sport off-road better are Hill Descent Control (HDC) which automatically applies the brakes to maintain your current speed when traveling downhill. This lets you concentrate on steering and travel downhill with greater safety without having to manually apply the brakes. Going uphill, on the other hand, is managed by a Hill Start Assist feature that keeps you from rolling backward while you release the brake by maintaining the braking force for up to two seconds until the accelerator is applied. With a 30-degree approach angle, a 24-degree departure angle, and a 45-degree lateral travel angle combined with all the weapons at its disposal, the 2020 Pajero Sport is easily one of the best off-roaders in the country. It is one of those SUVs that encourages you to take the more unconventional path towards your where you are going and I quite love that.
In a sea of pretend SUVs with equally pretentious off-road capabilities printed in their brochures, the 2020 Pajero Sport is a proper SUV that is more than equipped to handle anything that comes in its way. Its big, it is practical, it’s a comfortable place to be in and is a handsome looker.
It is shockingly powerful on the tarmac and is an absolute tank off-road, cruising over everything without breaking a sweat. To top it all off, it comes with an equally hefty price tag that is befitting of what it offers. And if you happen to have that much money lying around… I’d say you’d be making good investment.
Long ago, in a different car magazine far-far away, I had reviewed the old Pajero Sport and had named it, “The Beast from the East”. Today, driving it again after all these years I can say that the 2020 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport has proven itself to still be worthy of that title.
Price: Rs 16.5 million onwards