Road Review: Mitsubishi Pajero Sport 2.4L Aspire Auto

  Colin Windell


 17 Jun, 2022

The new Mitsubishi Pajero Sport 2.4L Aspire Auto is an efficient and pleasant cruiser.

Lost in time is somewhat a polite way of saying blunder about the sulphurous fog of forgotten memories and, in a world seemingly determined to reduce the whole of life to computer-generated ones and zeros, that marvellous supercomputer in our heads is undervalued and underused.

Memories are made for recollection. It’s called history. Sadly, in the modern pursuit of the latest, newest tech, that history often gets relegated to that fog. 

Travelling long distances to test vehicles, with bands like Throwing Copper, Wolfsbane, Skull Fist or Ice War providing the soundtrack, while the cruise control keeps me out of the demon eye of the local constabulary, there is plenty of time to think and recollect. 

History and background

The Mitsubishi Pajero was first introduced in 1981 and almost immediately garnered global attention for the wrong reasons. Although Mitsubishi chose the name from a wild cat from the Argentinian Pampas, it means ‘person who carries straw’ in Spanish – but also is a rude slang word usually directed at men.

Montero and Shogun were alternative names given to the Pajero in countries sensitive to the label. 

However, by 1983 the Pajero was selling more than 8 000 units annually in Japan with close to 26 000 export sales. And it was in that same year a Mitsubishi Pajero, driven by Andrew Cowan, claimed victory in the Paris–Alger–Dakar with teammate George Debussy coming second in class and 14th overall after covering more than 11 000 km.

Any ‘naughty’ connotations to the name dissipated as the Pajero then proceeded to rack up 12 Dakar ‘Car Class’ wins and 150 stage wins in the world’s toughest race – the latter feat earning it a place in the Guinness Book of Records.

Fast forward to 2021

In 2021 global production of the Pajero ceased, leaving only the 7-seater Pajero Sport and a hint of a Suzuki Jimny challenger mini-Pajero due for reveal in 2024.

In the world of Mitsubishi, the Aspire nameplate is given to premium derivatives within a range and has some specific features that mark them as different – in the case of the Pajero Sport Aspire, one of these is its availability only in Jet Black or White Diamond. 

Engine, design, drivetrain, and comfort features

A 2,4-litre MIVEC four-cylinder intercooled turbo-diesel powers all Aspire derivatives. With 133 kW at 3 500 r/min and 430 Nm of peak torque at 2 500 r/min on tap, it drives the front wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The average fuel consumption of 8,2 l/100 and a tank range of over 800 kilometres makes it an ideal long-distance cruiser. Quite frankly, acceleration and top speed are immaterial as the true purpose of this vehicle is to glide effortlessly away from rest and ease up to cruise speed at a rate allowing occupants to appreciate the surroundings.

The Aspire butt heads with cars like the Isuzu mu-X 3.0TD LS, Mazda CX-5 2.5 AWD Individual and Haval H9 2.0T 4WD Luxury in the congested and competitive SUV class and, on a spec-for-spec basis, there is very little between them.

The Pajero Sport was given a bit of tweak in 2020 - and the Aspire displays the same Dynamic Shield front grille as its siblings and, apart from the colour scheme and the subtle Aspire badge at the rear, looks the same as the others.

Interior clothed in leather

The Aspire interior has black leather seats, a power slide and reclining function for the driver’s seat, power lumbar support, power windows all around with a one-touch automatic up/down button and dual-zone climate control with a rear ventilation duct for the second row of seats to give it an air of ambient luxury.

The multi-function leather-clad steering wheel has audio and cruise control settings, while the full-colour digital instrument display ensures visibility of all relevant information.

Multi-function steering wheel and modern tech

The Pajero Sport also offers Bluetooth connectivity with hands-free voice control and Mitsubishi’s smartphone-link display audio (SDA) connected to an eight-inch touch screen. All models have additional USB and accessory sockets (dual USB for the rear passengers) and a 220 V AC 150-Watt power plug.

There is a R50 000 price difference between the 4x2 Aspire and the 4x4 version. In all honesty, I would opt for the legendary off-road capability of the true off-roader.

Nonetheless, the 4x2 version is not afraid to tackle local terrain. With an approach angle of 30 degrees, break-over angle of 23,1 degrees, departure angle of 24,2 degrees and wading depth of 700 mm, it can go places that would severely test the mettle of some other 4x4 offerings.

With the diesel engine capable of smooth cruising whatever the undulations on the road, its status as a cruiser is marred slightly by the luggage capacity of 193 litres growing to 813 litres – this compared to the 442-1 914 of the Mazda.

Safety and technology

Occupant safety is taken care of with seven crash bags and ISOFIX child seat anchors. Active safety features include Active Stability and Traction Control (ASTC), an anti-lock braking system, electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) and an emergency brake assist system (BAS).

Rear park distance control

Hill-Start Assist (HAS), trailer stability assist, auto levelling dusk-sensing LED headlights, front fog lamps, daytime running lights, rain-sensing windscreen wipers, rear park distance control and a rear-view camera complete the safety package.

Maintenance, warranty and service

All Mitsubishi Pajero Sport models have a 3-year/100 000 km manufacturer’s warranty, a 5-year/90 000 km service plan, 10 000 km service intervals and five-year roadside assistance.

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Find the keys to your dream
Mitsubishi Pajero Sport

2009 3.2 Di-D GLS Auto

R 209,900

2022 2.4D 4x4 Auto

R 716,995

2018 2.4D 4x4 Auto

R 479,990

2021 2.4D Auto

R 619,990

2017 2.4D 4x4 Auto

R 458,900

2022 2.4D 4x4 Auto

R 736,995

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