Mitsubishi’s Pajero Sport has been available to weekend warriors and families alike for almost a decade, and in a lot of ways the age shows. But there’s a certain charm in its simplicity, and it’s one this writer appreciates.
That’s particularly so when the Super Select 4WD-II dial is switched to any mode that engages the transfer case in this mid-to-large size 4X4 SUV. Based on the Triton ute means the Pajero Sport has good bones too.
The duo are all but identical from a mechanical perspective, with the only real departure presenting in the rear suspension setup, which swaps leaves for coil springs, prioritising comfort over all-out carrying capacity.
The ride is soft and compliant, with a fair bit of body roll when pushed, but outright pace is not what this car is about anyway. Under the hood is a 2.4-litre 133kW/430Nm diesel 4-cylinder, backed by an 8-speed automatic gearbox, rather than the 6-speed in the Triton.
This leads to the aforementioned transfer case to allow four-wheel drive and finishes off down back with a differential lock. It’s not the most refined powerplant getting around anymore, with a fair bit of clatter.
There’s an unexpected but welcomed surge of power when the turbocharger comes on boost though and while it’s no powerhouse, a 0-100km/h time is inconsequential for a car like this. What impressed most is the tractability on low throttle applications.
That’s accompanied by an impressive real-world fuel consumption of 9.1-litres/100km, against a claimed figure of 8.0-litres/100Km. Remembering that this vehicle does have 7 seats and tips the scales at a whisker over 2.2 tonne, it’s decent.
Both these attributes were well appreciated on a road trip with three on board, between Sydney and Canberra. The smoothness of the ride and solid feel of the build truly belies the Pajero Sport GSR’s vintage.
The interior is trimmed in leather across all seven seats, along with the steering wheel and gear knob. It’s not the softest nor the highest quality, but it’s rugged enough, while remaining comfortable.
That’s another tick for those who would consider taking this anywhere further than the local supermarket carpark. A mixture of hard and soft plastics is flanked by accents of chrome, aluminium and piano black.
We still don’t understand why manufacturers put the latter in off-road capable vehicles. It looks lovely when new, but invariably gets scratched if the vehicle is used for purpose and looks horrible forever.
The front pews are heated and together with electric adjustability and a tilt and telescopic adjustable steering wheel, make for a comfortable space to mow down the kilometres. The instrument binnacle houses a screen for vitals.
Atop the centre stack sits an 8.0-inch touchscreen. The latter handles everything from your reversing camera and associated sensors, right through to entertainment through the wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, with audio delivered via 8-speakers.
The screen quality is average for a 2023 model. There are two USB charging ports front and rear, along with a HDMI port up front. An odd one, presumably to allow for a feed through the screen.
This is supplemented with a 220W power outlet in the rear, which could come in handy. The second row of seats recline for comfort and obviously fold up to allow passengers into the third row.
On those, we’ve seen much smaller, but they’re still not large enough for an adult for anything more than a giggle and an uncomfortable photo. Rounding out interior accommodation is an impressive array of storage.
This includes space in the doors which could accommodate a 1.5-litre bottle, glove compartment and centre storage. This is supplemented with 131-litres of boot space with the rear seat up, and 502 with them down.
This can expand to 1,488-litres with the second row down, which is handy once you’ve worked out the intricate origami that goes into making that actually happen. The similarities with the Triton are also evident outside.
The familiar Mitsubishi grille and sharp LED headlight treatment that sit above the transformer-style driving lights mean you cannot mistake the Pajero Sport for anything else on the market.
Despite a relatively deep bumper, it boasts a solid 30-degree approach angle. Down the flanks the familiarity continues, as does the blackout treatment which is in essence the difference between the GSR and Exceed variants.
Against the Terra Rossa red panel work it was quite nice, less so is the fact the GSR can only be had in this, Black Mica or White Diamond. The 18-inch wheels also cop the gloss black treatment and are wrapped in 265/60 Toyo A32 rubber.
Down the rear, the upward opening electric hatch completes visuals with a handsome spoiler that carries through the same black coating as the roof. On a short off-road test loop, we found the assets that made on road commuting enjoyable carried over on dirt.
Quiet, comfortable, and solid, it could eat up an outback highway. The addition of the factory tow pack means it’s good for up to 3,100kg of braked hauling. It does a decent job over more technical off road terrain too.
The combination of independent coil sprung suspension up front, and a coil sprung rear, saw characteristic wheel lift at times. Despite this, the traction control system did a fine job of maintaining forward momentum if not a little slow and laggy at times.
One thing that was abundantly clear was the benefit of size. While it is long, it has a solid ramp over (23-degrees) and departure (24-degrees). The narrow wheelbase in comparison to newer competitors means it is easier to push through tighter sections of track too.
Regardless of the terrain one may be traversing, safety is also well covered on the Pajero Sport GSR, including airbags, forward collision mitigation, blind spot monitoring and lane keep assist, rear cross traffic alert, and emergency braking assist.
There’s also ultrasonic misacceleration mitigation, along with regulars in the form of ABS, traction control, and hill descent control for off-road duties. With a new Triton on the horizon, we hope to see this model continue into the future.
The 2023 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport GSR is a great way to get into a rugged, comfortable and spacious off-roader, without the sting in the hip pocket. Priced at $65,490 drive away, it comes with a 10-year warranty and 10-years capped price servicing to boot.
Our test vehicle was provided by Nissan Australia for review purposes.