Mitsubishi Motors India may not be that well known name in India now however in the late 80s and early 90s, the Mitsubishi Lancer marketed by Hindustan Motors definitely made an impact in the Indian hearts. It may also be recollected that the company’s SUV, the Mitsubishi Pajero in India was a rage amongst the film stars and wealthy. So much so that it became a status symbol. It wasn’t however available in the open market until 2003 when the company realized the potential of the vehicle in the Indian market scenario. Earlier on, it was a costly proposition costing around Rs 32 lakhs however with recent price cut revisions, the price has fallen to around Rs 19 lakhs for the base variant. Moreover, this SUV is now manufactured in India at Hindustan Motors Pithampur plant. Around 2008, there was a face lifted version with nothing new under the hood however the decals were changed, few more interior features added and the SUV given a two tone paint job. Been a SUV fan, this was the model which appealed to me the most. Mitsubishi Motors India were all too pleased to offer me a SUV on loan for a review article and here I am now narrating the on goings related to it.
Check on Road Price
Been a SUV means that this car should look like one and this is what usually attracts SUV buyers when they are out scouting for a SUV. It should have road presence in plenty plus should scare the daylights out of any one daring to cross your path. I am not sure of the second trait but then the former is amplified by the Mitsubishi Pajero in India. It has tons of road presence and is one of the oldest SUV in India. Elsewhere in other parts of the world, the Mitsubishi Pajero has been replaced with the Mitsubishi Montero however in India both continue to sell alongside each other. The latter is a Rs 10 lakh more option in India.
Coming back to the looks, the bonnet is long and features a bonnet scoop which is actually functional unlike the one found on the earlier Mahindra Scorpio. The front end looks more like from a MUV like the Toyota Qualis. The front grille is also small and features the Mitsubishi diamond on it. An integrated bull bar in plastic covers the air dam. The sort of circular for a SUV head lamps also lend it a distinct character. The anti scuff plates at the front are similar to the others in its class.
Chrome adorned wide mirrors provide a good view of the traffic trailing behind. The wheel arches are subtly flared and the 15 inch wheels however don’t do justice as they don’t fill the wheel arches well. There is a big gap and this some how lends the big SUV an undertired look. The door handles are also in chrome and this lends it a classic look. The dual tone color scheme looks apt for a vehicle this big. Its wheel base of 2725 mm lends it a stable feel.
The rear features a rugged look like those from the military vehicles. The tail lamps also are of the old types and it has a step up ladder for those rear seat passengers. A unique feature of it is that the brake lights are located in the rear bumper.
With the 205 mm of ground clearance, one has to clamber into the cabin. The high set seats do give you a sense of having conquered the world. The 4 spoke steering wheel doesn’t have audio controls on it. It was as if I was spoilt by the steering mounted controls that I couldn’t even manage without them now. No, that wasn’t my thought. It actually made me wonder how much of old school it actually is. The interiors are also dual tone. The hazard light switch is located close to the speedometer and this is a unique feature, yet to be found in any car in India. The pedals are all placed well spaced to each other. The dashboard doesn’t seem smooth to touch and has some grains on its texture. Besides the instrument panel, there is another hooded binnacle which has a compass, altimeter and thermometer. There is also a clock located beneath it.
The seats are rightly bolstered and your bums would be amply pampered. Hold on, I am just referring to the front seats as of now. Yet to have a seat at the rear. You do sit a bit upright though but I didn’t feel any fatigue even after the 100 kms round trip that I took when I put the SUV through its paces. To take care of the comfort factor, Mitsubishi Motors India have also given a dead pedal to give rest to your left foot. Behind the biege wrapped gear lever, an arm rest has been provided for the driver and flanking it is the parking brake lever. The HVAC controls look real cheap as if they have been lifted from a Maruti 800 car. There are two glove boxes and they can accommodate a fair bit of your daily requirements. Not many cubby holes were visible.
Now, moving onto the middle row of seats(the Mitsubishi Pajero in India is available only in 7 seater guise), it shows that not every time does huge exterior dimensions translate to greater inner space. Seating seems a bit uptight for the second row of passengers. The leg space is a bit less than what you would expect from a SUV this big. Nevertheless, the seats themselves are comfortable. There are AC vents on the pillar to keep the middle row passengers happy. The last row of seats is forward facing and it would be prudent to say that it is best suited for kids. With the third row of seats intact, the boot space is 427 liters whereas flipping the third row yields 764 liters whereas folding even the middle row brings in a huge 1270 liters of space. Working away at those seats and flipping them over must have made me lose about a liter of fluids in sweat.
Handling and ride quality
Now, Mitsubishi has a long running history with rallying and with it winning many of the Paris Dakar rallies, this was a sure shot formula going out in the rough. I had once heard one of my colleague saying that for off roading, there are only three premium SUVs that have a go anywhere factor and those are any of the Land/Range Rovers, Toyota Landcruiser family and then the Mitsubishi Pajero. Since the other two are approximately double or triple the price of a Mitsubishi Pajero, it is prudent to say that this would be one vehicle I can go all out in the mud. I did get the opportunity to test its off roading prowess. There was a particularly rocky patch near the Badlapur dam and this was the place that I wanted to test it off roading capabilities. Armed with the body-on-ladder design, hill descent control, 4×4 wheel drive and also limited slip differential locks, I was sure that this SUV would clear all the hurdles with aplomb. Slip the FWD vehicle into all wheel drive mode and the SUV just smothers all obstacles in its path. It easily overcame the steep incline that I threw at its way along with the descent on the other side. The tubeless tyres are never left wanting for traction and been tubeless ensures that you aren’t stuck in the rut somewhere.
Most of the owners wouldn’t even venture close to what I have done just now. So, back I was on terra firma. The new Mitsubishi Pajero in India has a hydraulic variable assist power steering which is speed sensitive and does your bidding with just two fingers on it. It is not as direct as say a BMW unit but then it doesn’t have enough slack in it to prevent some of the numbness experienced while at the center. At low speeds, the 3 Link coil spring rigid axle with stabilizer bar at the rear and Double wishbone torsion bar with stabiliser bar do a fine job of isolating the occupants at low speeds however at high speeds, the suspension does become noisy and bumps do upset it. It doesn’t feel as stable on the highways than what it is on the city roads. Cross winds do affect its stability.
Now speaking about the handling, it does handle like any of those tall structures one calls as an SUV. It isn’t that top heavy and hence body roll is well contained. It however doesn’t like taking corners at high speeds. It prefers its own sedate pace for attacking corners. The suspension is tuned more for city drives and this shows.
Engine,Performance and fuel efficiency
The 2010 Mitsubishi Pajero in India is offered with only one diesel engine. It is the 2.8L 118.6 Bhp turbocharged intercooled diesel engine with 4 cylinders. It makes 292 Nm of torque @ 2000 rpm. Since it features indirect injection and is an old school motor. In 2011, it is said that this motor would feature Direction injection and things could look rosy on the driveability as well as NVH front. This current engine is mated to a 5 speed manual transmission. The gears slot into the gate perfectly however I found that the throws were a bit long. Sometimes, the transition from the 1st to second gear didn’t feel all too smooth. So was the reverse gear which felt a bit hard.
The 0-100 kmph run was covered in under 15 seconds which is good for an indirection diesel engine sporting SUV, not to count the porky 1860 kgs that it has to lug around. The top speed that I could achieve on this SUV was 161 kmph. The motor isn’t an epitome of refinement while doing this though and few would only think of revving it to that limit. Even though, it’s an indirect injection engine, it still does have enough tractability to take the SUV around town at speeds of 10 kmph slotted in 2nd gear.
Brake feel is also good but then the combination of discs at the front and drums at the rear badly need a upgrade. Mitsubishi Motors India have provided this old school SUV with ABS, EBD and also traction control. I did wish that this SUV also had discs at the rear for a safer braking experience. Safety features are the usual 3 point seat belts, Anti pinch and trapping power windows, front dual air bags, roll over sensor and also the collapsible steering column. Parking sensors should also have been offered given the girth of this SUV.
The most paramount feature for any buyer in India, the fuel efficiency of this SUV is also right amongst its pack. It boasted of a fuel efficiency of 10.7 kmpl in city whereas on the highway it stretched one liter of crude till 15.3 kilometers. Coupled with a huge 92 liters fuel tank, this SUV has a wide range.
The Mitsubishi Pajero in India is an icon however more modern rivals have dethroned it. Its interiors feel like from a 1960 Rolls Royce minus the opulence or with the addition of plastics from a Maruti 800. It is very capable off-road more than on it. It has tons of road presence but then an old school engine under the hood doesn’t mean all that show translates to a go on the road. It is pretty well priced but then lacks some essential goodies like automatic climate control, powered seats, better infotainment system and then some more. Is it that I am becoming greedy? May be but then I might be spoilt with all those choices abounding in the market with respect to premium SUVs. The latest entrant, the BMW X1 is just two lakhs costlier than this SUV however it has all the trappings and image of a much expensive vehicle. There is only one variant namely the Mitsubishi Pajero SFX and the price of the Mitsubishi Pajero in India is Rs 19,85,000 , ex-show room, Delhi. Would I buy a Mitsubishi Pajero? Yes, but not this one. I would go for the improved variant coming our way sometimes later this year.
Technical specifications of the Mitsubishi Pajero in India
Overall Length: 4732 mm
Overall Width: 1691 mm
Overall Height: 1894 mm
Wheelbase: 2725 mm
Front Track: 1421 mm
Rear Track: 1435 mm
Ground Clearance: 205 mm
Cargo Room Length: 1280 mm
Cargo Room Width: 1445 mm
Cargo Room Height: 1135 mm
Kerb Weight: 1870 kgs
Gross Vehicle Weight: 2720 kgs
Seating Capacity: 7
Engine details: 2.8 liter In-Line Engine, intercooled diesel engine
Engine Displacement (cc): 2835
No. of Cylinders: 4
Maximum Torque: 292 Nm @ 2,000 rpm
Maximum Power: 118.6 Bhp @ 4,000 rpm
Valves Per Cylinder: 2
Valve Configuration: SOHC
Fuel Supply System: Indirect Injection
Bore x Stroke: 98.0 x 101.0 mm
Compression Ratio: 17.8:4
Turbo Charger: Yes
Transmission details: 5 Speed Manual
Drive Type: FWD with selectable all wheel drive
Front Suspension: Double wishbone torsion bar with stabiliser bar
Rear Suspension: 3 Link coil spring rigid axle with stabiliser bar
Steering details: Hydraulic Power Assisted Rack & Pinion with Tilt function
Turning Radius (wheel base): 5.7 m
Front Brake Type: Ventilated Disc
Rear Brake Type: Self adjusting Drums
Top Speed: 161 kmph
Mileage-City (kmpl): 10.7
Mileage-Highway (kmpl): 15.3
Fuel Type: Diesel
Fuel Tank Capacity (litres): 92
Tyre Size: 265/70 R 15
Tyre Type: Tubeless Radial
Wheel Size: 15 x 7JJ
Alloy Wheel Size: 15 inches
Seating Capacity: 7
No of Doors: 5