Boy was I having a good chuckle as I made my way out of Sydney with the NT diesel Pajero hooked up to an 18 and a half-foot Jayco caravan. Our team of testers voted the newly released NT as ‘first place’ in our very own 4WD Of The Year 2009, plus it’s scored a swag of other medals and ‘first in class’ awards.
The upgraded tow capacity of 3000kg should (on paper) make it a serious contender for caravan and camper trailer towing duties, but unfortunately, we hadn’t had the chance to hook anything of any substance to the Mitsubishi tow bar – until now!
It made short work of keeping up in peak hour traffic with effortless accelerating and braking manoeuvres that far exceed what a ‘small’ displacement diesel would have been able to do in the not-too-distant past.
Yes, it did suffer a little turbo lag and automatic transmission delay as the right foot was pressed on the green traffic light signal with the early morning rush hour maniacs.
That aside, the auto’s fully automatic mode combined with tiptronic style manual changes made driving easy. Coming into tight corners out on the open road or red lights in the traffic, a quick flick to the left combined with one, two or three manual down changes enabled the engine/gearbox braking to take some load off the foot brakes.
With 147kW and 441Nm, the 3.2-litre intercooled turbo diesel had oodles of power to maintain not only all freeway driving, but also the hilly, undulating back roads that often required constant braking into corners followed by accelerating to the next.
This engine was a delight to drive with and handled the 2000kg Jayco caravan with ease.
The only ungainly experience was on the aforementioned back roads at speed, part way around a corner, with irregular bitumen surfaces forcing sideways movement onto the back end of the Pajero’s independent multi link coil spring suspension.
Again, it’s a bit of nit-picking and it was only evident on the more uneven patches and nothing too untoward for those familiar with towing larger caravans.
Late braking into fast corners (as well as back in that terrible traffic light chaos) saw the Pajero’s four wheel ventilated disc brakes handle the caravan easily – with of course the electronic brakes as fitted to the van. Long downhill descents never saw the Pajero’s brakes fouling the pristine air with burnt brake pad fumes.
Many people have claimed how quiet this latest model diesel Pajero is compared to the previous. Yes, it’s much quieter, but still lets out a good old engine roar on down changes as the tacho needle points towards the higher end of the scale. Some other Japanese vehicles are still much quieter than the Pajero and prove to be a more pleasant space for intimate conversations.
The standard Pajero seats provided exceptional comfort for one very long days driving, even without lumbar adjustment! At the end of 500km, jumping in and out for photos my back and derriere were in very good condition.
Standard side rear view mirrors are excellent in size and shape to see most of what is happening to the rear with a van in tow, although extended mirrors would be of benefit.
Our group of testers made the right choice again this year, although increased cabin sound deadening should be on the cards for future versions. Other than that, the 3.2 litre Di-D Pajero should be a real winner with Overlanders who haul camper trailers, caravans, horse floats or any sort of heavy load.
For the full version of this test, plus everything you need to know about 4WDs, get your copy of the new look Overlander magazine.