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Mitsubishi Pajero


Land Rover Discovery Sport

Summary

Mitsubishi Pajero

If you're in the market for a genuinely large, rugged-duty four-wheel drive diesel wagon, your choices are rapidly diminishing... and if you're looking for one that's relatively affordable, your choices are even fewer.

The Mitsubishi Pajero is one of the company's longest serving and most faithful performers, and when it comes to value for money in the large off-road diesel wagon segment, there are few better.

But has age wearied this old battle horse? We're testing the 2018 update to see if it's still relevant in today's market.

Safety rating
Engine Type3.2L turbo
Fuel TypeDiesel
Fuel Efficiency9L/100km
Seating7 seats

Land Rover Discovery Sport

Land Rover’s Discovery Sport occupies a close to unique position in Australia’s premium, mid-size SUV market.

At less than 4.6m long it sits at the more compact end of the segment, but offers seating for seven. Okay, Land Rover labels the layout ‘5+2’, a refreshingly up-front concession that the third row is a kids-only zone. But it’s there.

Then the Disco Sport adds all-wheel drive with multi-mode ‘Terrain Response 2’ off-road capability. Go anywhere Land Rover cred, combined with seven-seat flexibility, and a price tag sitting just over $60K, before on-road costs.

There are several mainstream equivalents, and even some more modestly priced Euro alternatives. So, is this Land Rover, which received a substantial mid-life upgrade in 2019, a demonstrably superior package? We lived with one for a week to find out.

Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L turbo
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency8.1L/100km
Seating5 seats

Verdict

Mitsubishi Pajero7.5/10

There's no doubt that the Pajero is getting on in age, and there's no sign of Mitsubishi replacing it any time soon.

Then again, it doesn’t really need to. It sells quite well, it's really affordable, all of the bugs have been ironed out of it, and it's as tough as old boot leather.

It's not the most handsome thing on the road, and its active safety spec is behind that of more modern vehicles, but it's easy to forgive these oversights (okay, not the safety aspect so much) when it's as practical and lovable as this.

Is simple - like the Mitsubishi Pajero - the best? Or is tech the way to go?


Land Rover Discovery Sport7.6/10

Flexible, dynamically capable, and nicely put together, the Land Rover Discovery Sport S P200 packs a lot into a small/medium SUV package. It gives some ground to its premium competitors on equipment, but has a seven-seat ace up its sleeve, with genuine off-highway ability to boot.

Design

Mitsubishi Pajero7/10

Park your 2018 Pajero next to a model from the mid-naughties and from side on, you would be hard-pressed to tell the difference. Over the years, there have been superficial updates to elements like bumpers and tail-lights, but the Pajero's large boxy visage remains virtually untouched from its 2006 introduction.

It features a huge glasshouse, which makes for a very airy and bright cabin, while its box-like rear section endows the 4x4 wagon with a massive rear cargo space. It's certainly not going to win any beauty awards but that's really not the point of the Pajero.

On the inside, too, the only concession to up to date motoring is the touchscreen multimedia system. Again, there have been small cosmetic changes over the years to the Pajero's design language inside the car, but it really doesn't feel that much different to one of its 12-year-old siblings when you hop aboard.


Land Rover Discovery Sport8/10

Launched globally in 2014, and arriving here a year later, the Discovery Sport was given a comprehensive makeover in mid-2019, with an evolution of its exterior design, a refreshed interior, improved tech, and optimised packaging.

But at first glance you won’t notice a huge difference. The car’s overall proportions are unchanged, the signature clamshell bonnet remains in place, as does the familiar, broad, body-coloured C-pillar, and a strong, horizontal character line running the length of the car (just under the windows).

Although it looks like the roofline tapers to the rear, it’s more a case of the base of the windows (car designers call it the beltline) rising towards the back of the car. 

Styling tweaks include a new headlight shape (they’re now LED), as well as a revised lower grille and front air vents, bringing the baby Disco more in line with its larger, and newer, Land Rover siblings.

Changes at the rear are even more subtle, with a rearranged tail-light design the only discernible difference.  

Interior highlights include two large digital displays - a 12.3-inch instrument cluster, and a 10.25-inch ‘Touch Pro’ multimedia screen - as well as a new centre console design.

The previous rotary gear select dial has been replaced by a more conventional shifter, buttons and controls have been made softer and set in ‘hidden-until-lit’ gloss black panels, and the door grab handles have been relocated and reshaped to be… grabbier.

A reprofiled steering wheel with sleek black control panels attached is also new, but as with the exterior, big-ticket items like the flowing dashtop, main dash panels, and key storage areas are unchanged. 

Overall, the interior feel is clean, comfortable, and precisely composed. The Land Rover design team is on its game.

Practicality

Mitsubishi Pajero7/10

The Pajero is sold as a seven-seater and the rear two seats are tucked underneath the boot floor. There is also a 60/40-split fold second row, which can be tumbled forward to make a larger space as well as provide access to those two rear seats.

The third row really is the definition of a jump seat; it’s a narrow bench with short seat backs that are extended by comically oversized head rests, which need to be detached to stow the rear seat under the floor.

In fact, it is quite a complicated system to erect the seats in any sort of hurry and the parts are quite weighty, as well. People of a smaller stature will struggle a bit to configure those rear seats in any sort of hurry.

The same criticism can be levelled at the second-row seats, which basically need two separate movements to revert from tumbled to assembled. In their favour, they do offer a reclining back, which adds to rear seat comfort, and there is absolutely no shortage of headroom or kneeroom for even the tallest passengers.

There are ISOFIX mounts on the second-row outside seats, as well as a pull-down centre arm rest that hides two cupholders. Unusually in a relatively modern car, there are no door cards of any description in the rear doors, which means bottles can't be stowed there.

While the front doors have narrow short pockets, they are not equipped to hold any sort of bottles, either. The only way that you'll hold the drink is via the two cupholders that sit side by side in between the two front seats.

The big Paj is unashamedly aimed at people who like to treat their cars hard and put them away wet, and there is a lot of hard plastics here that will resist the rough and tumble of an outback life but may detract from the Paj’s ambience for suburb dwellers.

Overall, though, the Pajero is incredibly easy to operate and live with. There is an absolute lack of unnecessary bells and whistles and it features just what you need to drive up and over any obstacle in your path.

Visibility around the car is excellent in all directions, though the tall bonnet may make it awkward for some drivers to park the car. There are sensors and a reversing camera for parking, which does make life easy, although there are no line markings on the display to help you line up a trailer.

Our tester is carpeted, and one can easily see large rubber mats placed on the floor for a little bit more off-road resistance.

Internal cargo space rivals that of a panel van, with a low floor, high roof and large door aperture making the 1069 litres (VDA) of space with the second row in place (or 1798L with all rows folded) a doddle to access. The right side-hinged one-piece swinging door won’t suit everyone, though, and we weren’t able to access the rear of the Paj when our trailer was in place.

The spare wheel is mounted to the rear door, which isn't always the easiest thing to access, either, particularly for smaller adults. As well, you'll have to get under the floor to retrieve the jack and the wheel brace, as they are located in with the third-row seat.

There are luggage tie-downs in the cargo area while vents are situated in the roof throughout the car and the third-row passengers also get their own cupholders. Second-rowers miss out on any sort of power points but they do have access to ventilation controls.

And a big tick for the extendable sections within the Pajero sunvisors - such a rarity these days! It’s like no-one commutes north or south any more in car design land...

There's no digital speedo, sadly; in fact, there's not much digital stuff going on at all other than an ageing, but still useful, digital fuel and information gauge on top of the centre console.

The Bluetooth-ready head unit is similar to those found in other Mitsubishi products and features Apple Car Play and Android Auto. It's reasonably simple to use, though some of the submenus are quite hidden, making them hard to access. And the USB ports are mounted in the glovebox; not a drama, per se, but more inconvenient than most.


Land Rover Discovery Sport8/10

As mentioned, the Disco Sport isn’t huge on the outside (4.6m long), but interior packaging is impressive. A dash which slopes markedly back towards the base of the front screen helps open up the front passenger space, with 12-way electric front seats (with two-way manual headrests) adding extra flexibility 

There’s plenty of storage on offer, including two cupholders sitting side-by-side in the centre console, and a drop-in cover for them is supplied if you’d prefer a shallow, dished tray. There’s also a lidded storage box (which doubles as an armrest) between the front seats, a generous glove box, an overhead sunglasses holder and door pockets with enough room for bottles.

The second-row seat is amazingly roomy. Sitting behind the driver’s seat, set for my 183cm height, I had ample leg and headroom, and at getting on for 2.1m from side to side, the Discovery Sport punches above its weight division in terms of width.

Which means you can realistically seat three adults across the middle row, for short to medium length trips, at least. Adjustable air vents for back-seaters are a welcome inclusion, as are a pair of cupholders in the fold-down centre armrest, map pockets on the front seatbacks, and decent door bins.

If you’re willing to launch a UN-style diplomatic mission to negotiate relative space for those in the second- and third-row seats, the manual slide and recline function for the centre row will act as a handy mediator.

As mentioned earlier, Land Rover makes no bones about the fact that the third row is best for kids, but having that occasional seating capacity can be a godsend in helping the car accommodate extra family friends or relatives. There are cup/bottle holders and small elasticised storage pockets for each ‘way-back’ seater.

Getting in and out is relatively painless because the back doors open to almost 90 degrees, and the centre row seats fold forward easily. 

Worth noting the third-row seat is standard, and removing it is a no-cost option, the trade-off being the move to a full-size spare wheel and tyre rather than the otherwise standard space-saver.

Boot capacity comes in three sizes, depending on which seats are raised or lowered. With all seats upright, load space is a modest 157 litres, enough for a few grocery bags or some soft luggage.

Drop the 50/50 split-folding third row, via a user-friendly release mechanism, and 754 litres opens up. Our three-piece hard suitcase set (36, 95 and 124 litres) slipped in with room to spare, as did the jumbo size CarsGuide pram.

Fold away the third row as well as the 40/20/40 split second row, and no less than 1651 litres will have you thinking about starting a furniture moving side hustle.

There are sturdy tie-down anchor points at each corner of the load floor, and a handy netted pocket behind the driver’s side wheel tub.

In terms of media connectivity and power options, there’s a 12-volt outlet in the front and centre rows, and a USB port up front.

‘Our’ car was fitted with the ‘Power pack 2’ option ($160), which adds USB sockets for the second and third rows, as well as a wireless charging bay up-front ($120). 

Towing capacity for a braked trailer is 2200kg (with 100kg towball download), 750kg unbraked, and ‘Trailer Stability Assist’ is standard. The stability assist system detects trailer sway movements at speeds above 80km/h, and manages them through symmetric and asymmetric braking of the car.

Price and features

Mitsubishi Pajero8/10

In terms of its value, the $58,990 Pajero GLS presents very well against its most logical rival, the $59,990 Toyota Prado GXL. It's arguably got more capability than than the younger Prado, though size- and ability-wise, the Paj isn’t too far off the venerable LandCruiser GXL, which is almost $25,000 dearer.

It can also be cross-shopped with seven-seat 4x4s like Hyundai's Santa Fe and the ladder-framed Ford Everest.

Out of the box, the Pajero GLS comes with automatic lights and wipers, a leather-clad steering wheel and shifter, leather-bolstered seats with cloth inserts, heated front seats, a rear diff lock, front and rear fog lights, regular (non-adaptive) cruise control, and a 7.0-inch touchscreen multimedia system with Apple Car Play, Android Auto and Bluetooth streaming. There is no navigation fitted to this particular version.

The Paj features a multi-stage 4x4 system that Mitsubishi calls Super Select II, as well as independent suspension front and rear, and the company's tried and trusted 3.2-litre DiD four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine mated to an old-school five-speed automatic gearbox. It rides on 18-inch alloys that are shod with a more street-orientated all-terrain tyre.


Land Rover Discovery Sport7/10

At $60,500, before on-road costs, this entry-level Discovery Sport S P200 is at the lower end of the price ballpark occupied by a slew of small-medium premium SUVs, including the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Jaguar F-Pace, Lexus NX, Merc GLC and Volvo XC60.

But not all of them are all-wheel drive, and precisely none of them offer seating for seven.

Dip into the mainstream and a bunch of similarly sized seven-seaters pop up; think Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento, Mazda CX-8, and Mitsubishi Outlander

Then there are those living between these two worlds, like the Peugeot 5008, Skoda Kodiaq, and VW Tiguan Allspace.

So, this Disco Sport’s value equation is critical in allowing it to stand up to its five-seat luxury rivals, stand apart from its seven-seat mainstream competitors, and get ahead of everything in between.

To that end, aside from active and passive safety tech (covered in the Safety section), this entry-level model’s standard equipment list includes, rear fog lights, auto LED headlights, rain-sensing wipers, 18-inch alloy wheels, electrically-adjustable front seats, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, ambient interior lighting, and ‘Luxtec’ faux leather and suedecloth seat trim..

Then you can add, dual-zone climate control, six-speaker audio (with eight-channel amp), Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and Bluetooth connectivity, sat nav, the ‘Online Pack’ (browser, WiFi, and smart settings), 10.0-inch media touchscreen, central TFT instrument display, adaptive cruise control (with speed limiter), as well as keyless entry and start. 

Overall, a solid but not eyebrow raising suite of standard features for a car that’s crested the $60K barrier.  

Engine & trans

Mitsubishi Pajero8/10

The fourth-generation Pajero was updated in 2011 with the then-new 4M41 3.2-litre four-cylinder direct injection turbo diesel engine, and it instantly transformed the Pajero into a much nicer rig.

Even seven years on, the engine still feels refined and powerful, and it gives nothing away to its more modern, smaller capacity four-cylinder turbo diesel rivals. It musters up 141kW of power and 441Nm of torque – the latter number sounds a bit anaemic in this age of 500Nm utes, and the two-tonne-plus weight of the Paj plays against it too, but in use, even with a two-tonne race car/trailer combo on the back, it did the job perfectly well.

The engine connects to Mitsubishi’s Super Select II 4x4 system via an old but tough five-speed auto.

The Super Select II system allows the driver to pick rear-wheel drive, or three distinct 4x4 modes. High-range 4WD (centre diff unlocked) is suitable for everyday use, and should arguably be the default setting. High-range 4WD (centre diff locked) is better for dry and loose conditions, while low-range 4WD is your go-anywhere, do-anything mode, especially when combined with the lockable rear diff.

What does that do, you ask? It basically prevents the diff from sending all power to the wheel it thinks needs it the most, enabling both rear wheels to help when the going gets slippery. It's a definite no-no on the streets, though; you'll 'wind up' the diff by not allowing the other wheel to rotate freely when you're turning a corner, and it doesn't like that.

If you want to tow with the 2255kg Pajero, it can haul 3000kg of braked trailer, and has a generous gross vehicle mass figure (total legal weight of car, trailer, passengers and load) of 6030kg. If your trailer is over 2500kg, the downball weight maximum is 180kg, which increases to 250kg if the trailer is under that figure.

Sure, the Pajero not getting any younger, but it all works brilliantly well... and that's testament to its basic good character.


Land Rover Discovery Sport8/10

The Land Rover Discovery Sport S P200 is powered by a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, turbo-petrol engine producing 147kW at 5500rpm and 320Nm from 1250-4500rpm.

It’s part of Jaguar Land Rover’s family of modular ‘Ingenium’ diesel and petrol engines, built around multiples of the same 500cc cylinder design. 

The all-alloy unit features variable intake and exhaust cam timing, variable (intake) valve lift and a single, twin-scroll turbo.

Drive goes to all four wheels via a nine-speed (ZF-sourced) automatic transmission, and front and rear diffs, with torque on demand to the rear axle.

Fuel consumption

Mitsubishi Pajero9/10

After 380km aboard the Paj, including 55km with a laden trailer behind it, we returned a dash-indicated fuel figure of 10.4 litres per 100 kilometres on the combined fuel economy cycle, and our 38 litres of fuel used equated to a real-world 10.0L/100km.

Against a combined fuel economy claim of 9.1 litres, this is a great result.

The Pajero’s tank holds 88 litres of fuel, giving it a theoretical range of 980km.


Land Rover Discovery Sport7/10

Claimed fuel economy for the combined (ADR 81/02 - urban, extra-urban) cycle is 8.1L/100km, the S P200 emitting 188g/km of CO2 in the process.

Over close to 400km of city, suburban and quite a bit of freeway running, we recorded 10.1L/100km, which is a passable result.

Minimum fuel requirement is 95 RON premium unleaded and you’ll need 65 litres of it to brim the tank.

Driving

Mitsubishi Pajero8/10

Around town and between cities, the Pajero is a big, soft, cuddly, easy-to-drive companion on both tar and gravel. It's not exactly precise through the helm, but it stays away from being overly agricultural, and compares well to younger rivals like the Everest.

In fact, it's surprisingly easy and comfortable to drive every day, with a responsive, well modulated power delivery through the five-speed auto, good brakes and good road manners at cruise. It's easy to manoeuvre in town, too, though there's no doubting that it's a big car from behind the wheel.

On paper, it seems like it’s a little less sophisticated than some of its more modern rivals when it comes to off-road ability, but with the rear diff lock and low-range capability, the Paj does perfectly well without modern niceties like hill descent and ascent control modes.

The gearbox can be overridden so a gear can be held when clambering up or ratcheting down a steep terrain, and while the more citified tyres are a little bit of a compromise when the going gets really rugged, dropping the pressures will help immensely to find additional grip when needed.


Land Rover Discovery Sport8/10

Land Rover claims 2.0-litre turbo-petrol versions of the Discovery Sport will accelerate from 0-100km/h in 9.2sec. Anything under 10 seconds is reasonably swift, and the S P200 makes good use of all of its nine gear ratios to keep things on the boil.

Maximum torque of 320Nm isn’t huge pulling power, especially when we’re talking about shifting a close to 2.0-tonne (1947kg) seven-seater. But the twin-scroll turbo’s contribution means every one of those torques (actually newton-metres) is available from just 1250rpm, all the way to 4500rpm. So, mid-range performance is energetic enough. 

If you really want to press on, peak power (147kW) arrives at a lofty 5500rpm, just 500rpm away from the engine’s nominal rev ceiling. At which point, having remained a relatively low-key whirr in the background, the engine makes its aural presence felt.

The Cleary family (of five) took to the highway and some rural back roads for a weekend away during the test period, and open road performance was stress-free, with more than enough oomph for easy cruising and (well-planned) overtaking.

Seamlessly shuffling drive between the front and rear axles, the Terrain Response 2 system coped admirably with graded, but slightly rutted dirt roads, the car feeling secure and composed at all times.

Suspension is strut front, multi-link rear, and ride quality is good, especially in the context of an off-highway capable SUV. And the seats proved supportive and comfy over long stints.

Standard 18-inch alloy rims are shod with 235/60 Michelin Latitude Tour HP rubber, an on-road focused tyre which proved grippy and surprisingly quiet.

Electrically-assisted steering delivers impressive feel and accuracy, while the brakes, by ventilated disc all around (349mm fr/325mm rr), are progessive and strong.

And although we didn’t push into hardcore off-road conditions, those keen on doing so will want to know the car’s wading depth is 600mm, obstacle clearance is 212mm, approach angle is 25 degrees, ramp angle is 20.6 degrees, and the departure angle is 30.2 degrees. Enjoy the rough stuff.

Safety

Mitsubishi Pajero6/10

This is where the Pajero’s age plays against it. It’s equipped with six airbags (including full-length curtain bags) and brake assist, as well as a reversing camera, but its architecture prevents the addition of driver aids like lane departure warning and auto emergency braking (AEB).

It still holds a maximum five-star ANCAP safety ranking, which was achieved in 2011. If it were retested for 2018, it could potentially lose up to two stars for the missing driver aid equipment.


Land Rover Discovery Sport8/10

The Land Rover Discovery Sport scored a maximum five ANCAP stars when it was assessed in 2015.

Active safety tech includes the usual suspects like ABS, EBD, EBA, traction control, stability control, and roll stability control, with higher level systems including, AEB (low- and high-speed front), lane keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, traffic sign recognition and adaptive speed limiter, adaptive cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, a reversing camera, and driver condition monitoring. 

Off-road and towing tech includes ‘Hill Descent Control’, ‘Brake Hold’, ‘All Terrain Progress Control’, and ‘Trailer Stability Assist.’

An impressive suit, but… you’ll have to pay extra for, a 360-degree surround camera, park assist, blind-spot assist, rear cross traffic alert, and tyre pressure monitoring.

If a crash is unavoidable, you’ll be protected by seven airbags (front head, front side, side curtain covering all rows, and driver’s knee).

The Discovery Sport is also equipped with an airbag under the bonnet to minimise pedestrian injuries. Big tick for that..

There are three top tether points to secure child seats/baby capsules across the centre row seat, with ISOFIX anchors on the two outer positions. 

Ownership

Mitsubishi Pajero7/10

Mitsubishi offers a five-year/100,000km warranty on the Pajero.

It also offers a fixed-price service deal for the first three years of the Pajero’s life, with service intervals of 15,000km or 12 months (whichever comes first).

The first three services over 36 months total $1810 (which is $460 more than the Pajero Sport, by way of comparison).


Land Rover Discovery Sport7/10

Land Rover offers a three year/100,000km warranty in Australia, with 24-hour roadside assistance included for the duration.

That’s well off the mainstream pace, which sits at five years/unlimited km, but on the upside, three years paint surface cover, and a six year anti-corrosion warranty are part of the deal.

Service requirement is variable, with a range of on-board sensors feeding into a service interval indicator in the vehicle, although you can use 12 months/20,000km as a guide.

A fixed ‘Land Rover Service Plan’ set at five years/102,000km is available for $1950, which isn’t too shabby at all.