Mitsubishi Pajero VRX
  |  First Published: August 2009

The new Pajero is quicker, quieter, and more economical to run than its predecessor.

The new NT model pulls no punches about what its core business is about. Comfort, speed and smooth running come to the fore. Additionally, with an upgraded towing capacity of some 3000kg for a braked trailer and 750kg for an un-braked unit, the five-door wagon has the capacity to tow some serious boats or camper trailers.

I reviewed the well-appointed VRX diesel, which was equipped with most bells and whistles. It sat on 18” rims equipped with Dunlop AT 20s for extra grip on the rough stuff, and enhanced drivability all round.

Inside, the Pajero had leather seating, climate control air-conditioning which was easy to adjust for maximum comfort, and electronic aids everywhere, including front seat and exterior mirror adjustment.

Leg room within is ample. There is no stinting anywhere inside this big unit and if extra people want to enjoy the drive there’s a pair of well-padded and good-sized rear seats tucked under the cargo floor area in the back of the wagon, and these can be put into effective use in mere seconds.

The big news, however, is that specifications for the NT include enhanced sound reduction and vibration mitigation, adding up to a lack of noise, vibration and harshness.

Super Select auto

Selecting D for drive on the five-speed Super Select auto transmission will see seamless gear shifts. These is also the option to quickly kick the lever sideways for manual shifts to extract maximum performance if you’re towing a big load up a range, or if you’re about to drive onto a badly rutted section of beach. The VRX comes with a rear diff lock on the diesel model as standard equipment to get that power to the wheels with extra efficiency.

The Pajero's new four-cylinder engine is a significant improvement over the previous model. The 3.2L intercooled turbo diesel engine features common rail direct fuel injection, double overhead cams, four valves per cylinder and is designated the 4M41 for the technically-minded among us.

It's a state-of-the-art job and specifications show an enhanced kilowatt count to 147 (over 125) due to a larger variable geometry turbo, new cylinder head and injectors and revised electronic calibration. This also equates to more torque, of course, and the figure of 441Nm at only 1800rpm is impressive.

Significantly, the new engine offers an increase of some 18% in both power and torque over the previous model. Even so, Mitsubishi also claim improved fuel economy to the tune of some 13% over the previous model. Best of all is the low emission status of the engine, which conforms to Euro 4 Emission controls.

Rear wheel drive standard

Interestingly, Mitsubishi retains rear-wheel-drive as standard in the Pajero. While quite a few 4x4 vehicles these days have constant all wheel drive (and make no mistake, it is a great system) there is a downside for owners of these off-roaders in that all four tyres tend to need replacement at once. It can really hurt the hip pocket.

With careful tyre rotation, involving of the spare tyre in the mix, a smart Pajero owner will usually only need to replace two tyres at a time. In fact I have always done so with my own rear-wheel-drive 4x4.

The Pajero selectable 4x4 system offers standard two-wheel-drive, full time 4WD, 4WD lock and 4WD low range. The flexible drive system is assisted by braking and safety packages of ABS/EBD/BA plus traction and stability control. This comes with all models.

Note that the NT Pajero also features a new Aisin automatic transmission which has taller gearing equating to less revs on the tacho at all speeds. In fact, 100kph will see slightly less than 2000rpm on the dial.

Smooth ride

The specifications and safety features do make interesting reading but it's the real world experience of either driving or being a passenger in the VRX diesel that will truly impress. The vehicle is particularly soft riding, quiet, smooth as silk and very refined. Gone is the chatter of the previous diesel model, which somehow sounded very busy even if the tachometer indicated that it was not.

Bumps, potholes and even corrugations are taken in the Pajero's stride. For serious off-road work its low range gearing mated to 225mm ground clearance, a 36.6-degree approach angle and 25-degree departure angle will see the Pajero travelling off-road with ease. And whether you’re on rough tracks or trails or the beach, occupants will enjoy the ride thanks to coil spring suspension all round.

Last but not least is the NT diesel's fuel economy. The fuel tank capacity is 88L (smaller than some competitors) and I managed a very creditable 11.8Ls per 100km on a mix of city and country driving. I took it a day's circuit of the border ranges and had a lovely time with manual gear changes on the really steep and windy stuff.

Clearly, the new NT Pajero diesel is not just a pretty face: it is a powerful, competent and refined seven-seater well worth a look if you’re after a solid four-wheel-drive.

The Pajero VRX has a list price of approximately $64,000. Other models in the current Pajero range (GL, GLX, GLS and Exceed) range from around $44,000 to $75,000.

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