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Used Car Review: 2015 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport 2.5 DI-D 4×4 Automatic

This one will bowl you over with its charm and never-say-die quality.

Affordable Adventurer and Unsung Hero. Why is that? Well, Toyota’s cornered this market with its Fortuner. But, is that the only SUV worthy of your money? Diving a little deeper into the list of vehicles available, and you’ll be struck by the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport. It might not boast the curve-beating re-sale value of the Fortuner, but it has it beat on specifications and driver appeal. Time to test and review the 2015 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport 2.5 DI-D 4×4 Automatic.

The Japanese vehicles have a particular design language that centres around ease-of-use, functionality and durability. You won’t see knurled knobs, flashy lines or fussy designs: while attractive, it is above-all functional first. This Pajero Sport comes with all the bells and whistles, out-features the feature-rich Ford Everest and it is more capable off-road than the Chevrolet Trailblazer. But, the Trailblazer does outscore it in other areas. While the Pajero Sport is fully equipped to offer you serious value for money, it just seems a little dated inside the cabin and this may put off potential buyers. Up against a budget as a used car purchase, and it makes undeniably strong case for itself.

This is the second generation of this very comfortable SUV features a ladder frame for true off-roading prowess, while the 5-speed automatic gearbox offers strong in-town driving and makes for an excellent long distance vehicle. As you’d expect from a vehicle built on the same underpinnings as a large double cab bakkie, there is no want for more interior space. The 3rd row passengers also have great shoulder comfort, but average in the legroom space race.

The luggage area is deceptively large, to easily accommodate a family’s weekend baggage. And it is in this realm that the Pajero Sport exists: it is geared for families in a greater way than the Triton bakkie is, offering owners more safety and security, enhanced comfort and the ability to cary more passengers.

Then, there’s the Super Select AWD, a function that sets Mitsubishi apart from its rivals. In fact, this system was honed on the Dakar Rally – in the 1980s when it used to be an event on the African continent. Over the recent decades, Mitsubishi has refined and tweaked it to be a system without peers. It is easy to navigate from highway cruising in rear-wheel drive to remain fully in control of the vehicle on even the sketchiest of gravel at speeds below 100km/h thanks to this system. Of course, there’s also the standard Diff Lock to take full advantage of when the tough really gets tough. The best bit? There’s none of that fancy electronic nonsense: here you’ll find a lever-operated system that offers 4H, 4L and centre-locking diff position. Proper off-roader!

And this particular one?

It is in immaculate condition, from head to toe and front to back. It has covered less than 10,000km per year in its 4-year life thus far, and it feels and smells like a demo model. Incredible.

Those were my first impressions of this vehicle and the ones that lingered longest. In this shade of maroon it looks ruggedly handsome and ready to conquer an African desert. It is equipped with an aircon with climate control; electrically-operated windows and exterior mirrors; cruise control; multifunction steering wheel controls with paddle shift controls; PDC rear with a Reverse Camera; a luxurious leather upholstery that’s in nearly-new condition; side steps; electrically-adjustable driver’s seat; a Diff Lock; audio with AUX, USB and Bluetooth input; Xenon headlights; foglights; an headlight washing system; and, a long list of standard safety systems including 6 airbags.

Under the bonnet, the good news continues. The service record shows that no unnecessary items were replaced when it was serviced, so that highlights the owner truly nursed this 7-seater. The engine is a 2.5-litre turbodiesel unit that develops 131kW and a fantastic 400Nm of torque, yet it uses only 7.8-litres/100km in fuel consumption. Powerful and frugal, too. What of the legendary 3.2 DI-D engine in the big brother Pajero? Well, you’re able to purchase this model with that engine, but Mitsubishi phased out that lumpy turbodiesel for this more frugal and more powerful smaller unit. That’s Japanese efficiency for you.

There’s not much more you’d want in an SUV, and in my test driving and commuting, I never found myself needing an extra feature or a better-looking touchscreen system. Could this be a “Mitsubishi Malaria” fever I’d caught?

What to look out for on Mitsubishi Pajero Sport diesel-powered models in general?

I called up my local Mitsubishi agent to chat with their Workshop Supervisor about this vehicle and also a independent workshop, and both made a lot of “ummms” and “ahhhhs” when asked about common issues on these vehicles. Funny enough, they said that owners complained of rattling interior trim in the door pockets; a sometimes loose towbar mount (bolts needed to be retightened), and one instance of a noisier-than-usual turbo (fixed the wiring); and, that is about it. Strangely true with my own research.

What should I be paying for this Pajero Sport?

It has a price of R339,900 which is a bargain price for an SUV costing over R500,000 when new. What makes it even better, is that when searching for a similarly specced and low mileage vehicle across the brands, this one stands out as exceptional. In its price class of R339,900 and for a Mitsubishi Pajero Sport, this one is priced middle of the pack. However, it offers the lowest mileage anywhere in South Africa.

Prices range from R309,900 to R389,990 on digital platforms for vehicles around the country, yet this one still stands out to me. For the price, the low mileage and the exceptional condition, it is a fantastic buy for any future owner. [Of course, I have cherry-picked my test and review on this particular Pajero Sport for just those reasons too.]

Which other Pajero Sport models should I consider?

The only other engine choice to opt for is the lusty 3.2 DI-D. This powerplant, as explained above, has been replaced with the 2.5 DI-D. With prices varying from high in the R150,000s to well over R300,000, don’t be tempted by that larger capacity engine at a lower price point. My buying advice would be to rather adjust your search for a 2.5 DI-D with higher mileage and a year or two older than tackle the 3.2 DI-D…

The other factors to consider are: manual versus automatic; 4×4 versus 4×2. For an SUV of this caliber, 4×4 would be most suited for its robust go-anywhere persona. However, not all buyers will be driving along Namibia’s sand dunes. For this, the 4×2 is of course all that’s necessary. With most cities choked with traffic, the 5-speed automatic transmission makes light work of its heavy-duty build. It is seamless when changing cogs and won’t give you a days’ hesitation. Because, Mitsubishi.

What are the alternative choices?

As I’ve written, the list of alternative choices is long: Toyota’s Fortuner; Ford’s Everest; Chevrolet’s Trailblazer (and now called Isuzu’s M-UX); and, let’s not mention a bevy of SUVs for around the same price. But, those won’t stand up to this list of ladder-framed SUVs. With the same sort of dynamics, more features and comfort, and about R80,000 to R100,000 extra saved (over buying a Fortuner), I’d be very well pleased with myself for opting for the Pajero Sport and so would you.

Conclusion

Simply put, with the same sort of dynamics, more features and comfort, and about R80,000 to R100,000 extra saved (over buying a Fortuner), I’d be very well pleased with myself for opting for the Pajero Sport and so would you.

This vehicle is currently available for sale from Prestige Auto Sales in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape. You can contact me directly at 083 452 6892 (also on WhatsApp) or evanrothman@gmail.com to arrange to test drive and purchase this vehicle, or by contacting them directly at 041 484 6841. You may also contact their salesperson Karen (who helped facilitate the test of this beautiful vehicle) at 066 231 5242 (also on WhatsApp) and karen@prestigeautosales.co.za.

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