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Australia’s love of the Mitsubishi Pajero transcends death. More than 2000 Pajero have been sold in 2021, despite production of the venerable off-roader officially ending in March and the car no longer officially part of the local line-up.
Which makes the apparent decision to not prepare a replacement somewhat baffling, with a strong market for the Pajero not only in Australia but also Africa and the Middle East. However, according to all official reports from the Japanese brand, a new-generation Pajero isn’t on the short-term agenda.
Having said that, the decision is understandable to a degree, with Mitsubishi reporting a huge financial loss in 2020 amid the global pandemic. The Pajero factory was closed to save money, with the model already axed from its domestic range in 2019.
However, bringing back the Pajero makes sense for several reasons.
For starters, the demand for adventurous off-roaders is likely to be high in a post-pandemic world with Australians eager to get out and travel around the country now lockdown restrictions are easing. At least, that’s according to a survey Mitsubishi Australia has just conducted, that claims nearly half of the country wants to take a road trip.
“This is a new era of adventure,” said Shaun Westcott, Mitsubishi Motors Australia’s CEO. “Australians have spent significant time at home over the past two years.”
More specifically, according to Mitsubishi’s survey of more than 1000 people, 17 per cent want an ‘outback adventure’ and another nine per cent want to hit ‘the bush’, which would make for ideal customers for a new Pajero model.
In fact, it’s the Patrol that would be key to a revived Pajero. Given the increasingly close bond between Nissan and Mitsubishi as part of their alliance, sharing the next-generation Patrol platform with the Pajero would make good business sense for both companies.
In fact, this was discussed internally and mentioned publicly as long ago as 2017, but so far, no concrete plans have emerged. The challenge with making this happen could be the typically long-life cycles for these kinds of heavy-duty off-roaders.
The final, fourth-generation Pajero enjoyed a very long life for a vehicle, running for 15 years having launched in 2006 and receiving only minor facelifts during that time. The current Patrol arrived in 2010 so it’s due for replacement soon, but so far there has been no plans revealed.
Given the similarities between the Patrol and Pajero, combined with the engineering resources needed to develop a new model, amortising the costs across two models could be key for the long-term survival of both.
It also has other win-win opportunities, with Nissan able to draw on Mitsubishi’s experience with plug-in hybrid SUVs (such as the Outlander and Eclipse Cross), given electrification would almost-certainly have to be included in the next generation of both models.
This is particularly critical for Nissan as the Patrol is only available with a 5.6-litre V8 petrol engine, denting its appeal for those who value fuel economy for longer road trips.
The arrival of the all-new LandCruiser puts the pressure on Nissan to respond. It’s 11-year-old Patrol was already struggling to match Toyota in the sales race, so the introduction of the new Toyota, with its new 3.3-litre twin-turbo V6 diesel only ramps up the pressure on Nissan.
Combining the knowledge and experience of the Nissan and Mitsubishi engineers would seem, to this writer at least, to be a key benefit of the ‘alliance’ – and what better models to join forces on than the Patrol and Pajero.
So, a theoretical new Pajero could look like this; a shared platform with the Patrol, a PHEV powertrain and bigger body and more spacious cabin than Pajero Sport. Ideal for Aussies looking for their next adventure vehicle.