Mitsubishi Pajero GLX
The new, independent rear suspension handles bush tracks,
pot holes and bumps (not to mention speed humps) with ease.
| NB long right picture -->
The new Mitsubishi Pajero
was released in Japan in 1999
and in Australia in
The styling is significantly different from the
with an "interesting" bonnet (hood);
you would not call it beautiful, but most people seem
to quite like the new look.
| NB long right picture -->
This particular test car is a Pajero GLX V6 manual
at $45K ($au 9/'00), one up from the base `GL'.
It is lacking some of the fancy bits of the GLS ($51K) and Exceed ($56K),
but the seats
are comfortable (this from a notoriously bad back) with
plenty of leg room front and rear.
There are no surprises in the dashboard and controls -
the centre console holds
a radio/ CD-player and air conditioning controls.
An easy to use cruise control is operated by
a third stalk on the steering wheel.
Corrugations do bring on a few rattles and squeaks
from the plastic dash components and other trim items.
The front view, over the short nose, is good
(and made an
but you have to learn how far ahead the bumper is.
Note that the eyebrow over the driver's side
front wheel is visible but the near-side one is just
masked by the bonnet unless the driver stretches (6' driver's eye view).
The picture was put together from two shots and the kink in the
lines near the centre is an artifact of this.
The new car is up against the
The second row of seats recline, and
have a `split fold' function on the GLS and Exceed,
but not 4wd.sofcom.com --> on the GLX and GL.
The lack of a split fold make access to the third row
of seats more difficult on the cheaper models.
The previous Pajero was the king of the
"family four wheel drive wagons";
the king is dead, long live the king:
Such vehicles are theoretically bought for braving the Australian
outback, but in reality the school run plays a big part in the equation.
Four wheel drives have an air of toughness but often did not fare
too well in crash tests; the latest 4wd.sofcom.com --> generation with
monocoque construction and twin front air-bags should do
as well as modern sedans - we'll see.
Carrying capacity is another important factor, and
a third row of two (small) seats is neatly stowed
under the floor of the rear load area (above right);
the petrol tank is between the axles and
the spare wheel is hung on the rear door.
When its cover panel is removed,
the third row of seats can swing up and lock into place.
Releasing a catch allows the back rest to fold out (below right).
The only 4wd.sofcom.com --> things lacking are head rests -
solved that one by hinging them from the roof.
One slightly curious feature of the interior is the provision
of no less than nine grab handles, as though the makers
anticipate a lot of violent cornering.
Japanese buyers get the option of a diesel or a 3.5-litre
direct injection petrol engine. It is said that Australian
petrol is not clean enough for the latter so local buyers can choose
between the diesel and the familiar, and conventional,
3.5-litre EFI V6 petrol motor (below left).
The V6 is willing from over 1200rpm.
The top three ratios in the manual gearbox
suit the engine's characteristics well,
an indicated 110km/h showing 3200rpm in 4th (direct) and
2600rpm in 5th (overdrive).
There is good torque at 2000rpm, for example, and it
is rarely necessary to change down on long hills
on the highway.
The motor is a compact unit, allowing a short nose
which is good in the bush (approach angle) and in
the city - parking and at traffic junctions.
However, there are some hard to get at hoses
between the motor and the firewall that I would
not relish changing in the bush.
This particular car was a "stinker",
that is to say it produced a whiff of
H2S at idle.
A friend who is an engineer, for another car manufacturer, says
that it is something of a mystery why one car will make a pong,
for a while, and then stop.
Perhaps it's a batch of that dirty Australian fuel?
It is not a problem as such - unless there is a light breeze
from the rear when standing at traffic lights;
blame the dog.
First gear is rather low, and it proved tricky to make
a really smooth, clunk-free change out
of 1st for some reason
(for one who can do it on an old, worn Rangy 4-speed).
Given the choice,
I would prefer 1st gear to be a higher ratio and
for low-ratio in the transfer case to be lowered.
There is a storage box between the front seats and its top
is at about the height of the (6') driver's elbow.
This would be just right to rest the left arm on
while lazily punting an automatic along, but it is just wrong,
and in the way, for quick changes between 3rd and 4th.
The transfer case
is the well known Mitsubishi unit offering
(i) two (rear) wheel drive,
(ii) four wheel drive high-ratio with centre differential,
(iii) as for (ii) with the centre differential locked, and
(iv) low-ratio with the centre differential locked.
The operating lever is really a switch for motors and actuators
which engage the various gears.
The brakes are very light, as on many Japanese cars,
so it is a blessing that the brake pedal has a fair
amount of travel and that the brakes are progressive.
(parking brake) operates on drums inside the rear discs.
There was a slight clunk - clunk on the test car if the hand brake
was applied at anything other than a dead stop; probably
it simply needed adjusting.
(right) is independent by double wishbones
with coil springs (above) replacing the old torsion bars.
The lowest point, apart from the tyres,
remains the front suspension cross member and associated skid plate.
The exhaust system's silencer must be somewhat vulnerable
when straddling a sharp ramp.
It is just possible to make out the "teeth"
on the hub input shaft (right); these would allow the sensor for the
ABS brakes -
an option not fitted to this car - to detect the speed of the wheel.
The power assisted steering is light,
but it has good self centering and feels precise;
there is no vagueness.
One of the big changes on the new model is
the introduction of independent rear suspension
by wishbones and coil springs (left).
This puts the Pajero in comfortable company -
with the M-class.
In fact Mitsubishi has been rather craftier than
its new "ally", or is it "big brother",
Daimler Chrysler, by getting longer arms and more
wheel travel into its back end.
It is difficult to match a live axle for wheel travel
however, and it is not too hard to get the new Pajero
cross axled - e.g. a few inches farther forward left,
and showing daylight under a wheel (below).
The body is stiff and showed little sign of
flex in this condition, the doors still opening and
closing easily and cleanly.
What the Pajero does not have is axle diff' locks,
nor traction control as featured on the M-class.
Maybe one day?
There is the option of ABS brakes and
that provides half of the necessary hardware.
Independent rear suspension does however
bring great advantages if you are not going rock climbing,
but are driving on the highway or even on rough bush tracks.
The whole aim is to reduce unsprung weight,
i.e. to move the heavy differential and axles
off the unsprung wheels and onto the car side of the springs.
Then when you hit a pothole, corrugation, or speed hump,
the spring and damper only have the weight of the wheel and
hub carrier to control - much easier to do precisely.
A cosmetic running change is to delete the lower centre panel
of the rear bumper, as above, because it is a mud trap.
In any case, "It has to be removed if a tow hitch is being fitted".
Mitsubishi's own fuel consumption figures
for the V6 manual are 10.7 to 14.6L/100km.
We managed 14.3L/100km in mixed driving -
around town, highway, and bush tracks -
just under 20mpg (imperial).
The Pajero has to be in with a good chance in the 2000 awards
for best family 4WD wagon.
- © L. A11ison
The car was loaned by Mitsubishi Motors,
through East-Side Mitsubishi.
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