Mitsubishi Pajero VS Mercedes-Benz GLB
- Simple, proven mechanicals
- Oodles of space
- Smooth on tarmac, capable off it
- No driver aids due to age
- Third-row seats complex and tiny
- One of the oldest 4x4s on sale today
- Butch exterior design
- Unrivalled practicality
- Comfortable ride
- Optional safety features
- Penetrating wind noise
- Prominent body roll
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.
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.
|Engine Type||3.2L turbo|
We all know by now Mercedes-Benz loves to fill a niche, and if it can't find a niche to fill, it will create one. So, please welcome its latest niche-filler, the GLB.
So, does the GLB operate in the 'Goldilocks Zone', or is it an answer to a question no-one asked? We put its mid-range GLB 250 variant to test to find out.
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
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?
Well, Mercedes-Benz has done it again, finding (or creating, depending on your position) a niche and filling it. But unlike some others that preceded it, this example is a good one.
Despite its safety and handling shortcomings, the GLB 250 looks the part, is undeniably practical and serves up surprising performance, which means it's a winner in our books.
Is the Mercedes-Benz GLB a jack of all trades but master of none? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
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.
That said, prepare yourself for a bit of a throwback, because the GLB 250 is about as faithful to the classic two-box design as it gets in 2020, which we absolutely love.
Up front, it's undoubtedly a Mercedes-Benz SUV, albeit with a much squarer appearance. Simply put, the GLB 250 looks butch.
We particularly love its simple LED headlights, classic grille and strong bumper, which make it look smart but capable.
Around the side, the GLB 250 is a typical small SUV with black plastic cladding covering its wheelarch extensions and connecting skirts.
The otherwise plain design is spiced up by a sporty set of alloy wheels (our test vehicle was fitted with 18-inch items with 235/55 runflat tyres) and an unusual kink in the glasshouse, around the C-pillar.
The GLB 250 is at its best at the rear, where it exudes presence, with the tough look punctuated by the droopy LED tail-lights and a prominent bumper, which houses a diffuser element flanked by dual exhaust tailpipes.
Inside, the GLB 250 quickly reveals itself to be a technological tour de force. And yes, if its cabin looks familiar, it's because its mechanical relatives (A-Class, B-Class, CLA and GLA) more or less have the same cockpit.
As expected, a pair of 10.25-inch high-resolution displays sit side by side proudly atop the dashboard, with one the central touchscreen and the other the digital instrument cluster.
Both are items powered by Mercedes-Benz's new-generation 'MBUX' multimedia system, which is arguably the best there is today thanks its speed and breadth of functionality and input methods.
The GLB 250 is properly premium where it counts. Sure, trainspotters will notice the black 'Artico leather' upholstery covering the steering wheel, seats, armrests and door shoulders is of the artificial variety, but it's inoffensive, unlike in some of its SUV siblings.
Soft-touch materials are used for the upper dashboard, leaving hard plastics for the lower sections, which is exactly what you'd hope for at this price.
While a black headliner lends itself to a dark cabin, brighter highlights come by way of the metallic trim used throughout, notably on the steering wheel, dashboard, doors and centre console. And let's not forget the sensational ambient lighting. It's very, very cool.
And mercifully, gloss-black accents are limited to the surrounds of the steering wheel, turbine-style front air vents, dual-zone climate controls and centre console. The less scratches and fingerprints the better, we say.
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.
Measuring 4638mm long (with a 2829mm wheelbase), 1834mm wide and 1659mm tall, the GLB250 is closer in size to the GLC than the GLA, making it a small SUV on paper only. And that only means good things when it comes to practicality.
For example, cargo capacity with the 50/50 split-fold third row stowed is strong, at 565L, but it can be increased to a massive 1780L with the 40/20/40 split-fold middle bench also out of action. If six or seven seats are in use, though, there's limited space to play with.
That said, the boot is still very well thought out, as evidenced by its massive aperture, lack of a load lip, and flat floor, which make loading bulkier items a lot easier. And yes, its load cover can actually be stored underfloor when not in use!
There are also four tie-down points, two bag hooks, a side storage net and a 12V power outlet to make things that little bit easier, while the rear seats can be operated from behind.
Speaking of which, let's cut straight to the point: Mercedes-Benz claims the third row can accommodate occupants that are up to 168cm tall thanks to the middle bench's ability to slide fore and aft by up to 140mm.
Therefore, my 184cm (6.0ft) frame is a little too tall, but I was still able to sit in the back, albeit not in complete comfort, with about a centimetre of legroom and negligible headroom and toe-room on offer.
The biggest challenge for any occupant is getting in and out in the first place, as the middle bench doesn't tumble forward for easy access. Needless to say, you're not going to look graceful here. Children can learn to deal with it, but adults won't be excited by the prospect.
So, the middle bench is where it's at, even when slid all the way forward. Behind my driving position, it provides about a centimetre of legroom, but this can be increased to a generous 8.0cm by sliding it all the way back.
Either way, plenty of toe-room is available alongside more than an 2.0cm of headroom – and that's with a dual-pane panoramic sunroof fitted.
The second row can accommodate three adults at a pinch, partly thanks to the short transmission tunnel that ensure there's just enough space for three pairs of fully grown feet across the two footwells. Children will be fine.
While we're on the topic, four ISOFIX and five top-tether anchorage points are on hand for fitting up to four child seats across the second and third rows, making the GLB250 a genuine option for families.
In-cabin storage options are numerous, with the central storage bin on the larger side despite housing a pair of USB-C ports, and the glove box is also pretty handy, even if it does have an odd shape. There's also a sunglasses holder in front of the rearview mirror.
The centre console's cubby doesn't lend itself to storage, though, as it's more or less taken up by two cupholders, another USB-C port and a wireless smartphone charger.
The front door bins can take one small and two regular bottles each, while their rear counterparts can carry one small and one regular apiece.
Second-row occupants are further treated to a fold-down armrest with another pair of cupholders, although they're of the retractable (flimsy) variety.
These passengers also have access to two USB-C ports, which fold out below a small cubby and a pair of air vents, which are located at the rear of the front centre console. There are also storage nets on the front seat backrests.
And don't make the mistake of thinking the third row misses out on the action, as two cupholders (one regular, the other small) divide the seats, which have their own USB-C ports and device straps to the sides.
Price and features
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.
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.
Priced from $73,900 plus on-road costs, the GLB 250 sits in the middle of the GLB range, above the $59,900 GLB 200 and below the $88,900 AMG GLB 35.
Standard equipment not already mentioned in the GLB 250 includes dusk-sensing lights, rain-sensing wipers, power-folding side mirrors, aluminium roof rails and a power-operated tailgate.
Inside, satellite navigation with live traffic, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, digital radio, a 225W sound system with nine speakers, keyless entry and start, power-adjustable comfort seats with heating and memory functionality, auto-dimming mirrors and illuminated scuff plates feature.
As with most Mercedes-Benz models, the GLB 250 has a long and expensive options list, so the purchase price can blow out quickly if you're a little too keen.
That said, aside from some safety equipment we'll cover momentarily, there's really not that much missing to begin with, making the GLB 250 the sweet spot in the GLB range.
Either way, our tested vehicle was finished in $1490 'Mountain Grey' metallic paintwork, which is one of six extra-cost exterior colour options.
As mentioned, the GLB 250 is a unique proposition, so it's only comparable rival, the $67,852 Land Rover Discovery Sport P250 SE, is from the segment above, despite its similar size.
Engine & trans
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.
The GLB 250 is motivated by a peppy 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine that produces 165kW of power from 5500-6100rpm and 350Nm of torque from 1800-4000rpm.
Thanks to this combination, the GLB250 can sprint from a standstill to 100km/h in a brisk 6.9 seconds while on the way to its top speed of 236km/h. It also enables a maximum braked towing capacity of 2000kg.
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.
The GLB250's fuel consumption on the combined-cycle test (ADR 81/02) is 7.7 litres per 100 kilometres, while its carbon dioxide emissions are 173 grams per kilometre. Both claims are pretty solid.
In our real-world testing, though, we averaged 8.9L/100km over 180km of driving skewed towards country roads over highways. As such, it's a strong result, especially when you consider my lead foot.
For reference, the GLB 250's 60L fuel tanks takes 95RON petrol at minimum.
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.
Families are sure to be pleased by the way the GLB 250 drives, because it can be summed up in one word - comfortable.
A lot of the credit has to go to the GLB 250's independent suspension set-up, which consists of MacPherson-strut front and trailing-link rear axles with adaptive dampers.
The ride is sensational, with the GLB just wafting along on the highway. Take it onto a coarse-chip road and this quality does suffer, but not much. That said, road noise does become more of a factor on lower-quality tarmac.
It's worth reiterating that our test vehicle was fitted with 18-inch alloy wheels, which are an inch smaller than the GLB 250's standard set that come with lower-profile tyres (235/50), so the chances are our glowing review doesn't apply across the board.
There were also some noticeable underbody creaks when navigating speed bumps and the like, but hopefully they're just specific to our test vehicle.
What will be more consistent, though, is the wind noise generated by the side mirrors at highway speeds. It penetrates the cabin and disturbs its serenity more than any underbody creak ever could, so turn up the sound system.
Put the aforementioned adaptive dampers into their sportiest setting and body control improves somewhat, but you'll still be conscious of the GLB 250's 1721kg kerb weight.
Either way, grip is quite good due to the all-wheel drive system, which works hard to keep things on track. Its front bias is apparent, though, with the GLB 250 running wide of its line at times.
While it's not the sharpest handler, the GLB 250 is far from awful, partly thanks to the electric power steering's variable ratio set-up.
This system goes from lock-to-lock with ease at low speed, making parking manoeuvres much easier to perform, while it's far more stable at high speed.
However, it's not the first word in feel despite being well-weighted… until you make the mistake of engaging the GLB 250's Sport drive mode, which adds too much artificial weight.
Speaking of sporty, the GLB 250 is surprisingly fun in a straight line thanks to its strong engine and transmission combination.
I particularly enjoyed the 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine's mid-range, headlined by a useful 350Nm of max torque from 1800-4000rpm.
Once it comes and goes, though, it's a 'long' wait until 165kW of peak power kicks in from 5500-6100rpm, so best to up-shift early.
Doing so is very easy due to the new eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, which serves up gear changes that are only smooth, but quick.
Engage Sport drive mode and the engine and transmission become that little bit sharper, with the former's throttle response improved, while the latter adopts more aggressive shift patterns.
That said, it's best to resist that temptation, as the GLB 250 is at its best when driven calmly, while it exudes family-friendly comfort.
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.
ANCAP awarded the GLB range its maximum five-star safety rating in 2019.
Advanced driver-assist systems extend to autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, traffic sign recognition, driver attention alert, tyre pressure monitoring, hill-descent control, hill-start assist, high-beam assist, park assist, a reversing camera and front and rear parking sensors.
What's missing? Front cross-traffic alert, steering assist and adaptive cruise control all form part of the $1990 'Driving Assistance Package', which was fitted to our test vehicle but should be standard for the money.
Other standard safety equipment includes nine airbags (dual front, front-side, curtain and rear-side plus driver's knee), anti-skid brakes (ABS), electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) and the usual electronic stability and traction control systems.
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).
As with all Mercedes-Benz models, the GLB 250 comes with a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, which is the gold standard for the premium market. It also comes with five years of roadside assistance.
The GLB 250's service intervals are every 12 months or 25,000km, whichever comes first. It is available with a three-year capped-price servicing plan for $2650, but its pricing can be reduced by $500 if paid upfront alongside the vehicle.