The new Pajero Sport represents a major improvement on the Challenger, which it replaces.
The latter was an honest off-roader but showing its age, feeling dated and pretty ‘agricultural’.
With three grades to the range and list prices starting at $45,000 for the GLX, the Pajero Sport is keenly priced compared to the opposition.
Its new bodywork includes Mitsubishi’s current ‘dynamic shield’ front-end treatment as already seen on the 2016 Outlander, although the rear-end styling might be a bit more polarising.
The upgrades in terms of quality of materials, improved finish and layout are immediately apparent, delivering a more contemporary look and feel. Rake and reach adjustable steering and an electric park brake are among the ergonomic improvements.
All models score a reversing camera and rear park sensors.
Digital radio and Smartphone Link Display audio (Android Auto TM1/Apple Carplay 2) are standard on all variants. A CD player isn’t provided and navigation is via apps with a compatible smartphone only.
The front and rear seating has also come in for attention and while seats are still firm, they offer more comfort and are better shaped. Leather-trimmed seats are standard on the GLS and Exceed.
Interior space is increased and the cargo area generous, expanding further when the rear split-fold seats are folded and cushions tumbled forward.
Safety hasn’t been forgotten with all models achieving a five-star ANCAP rating.
Upgraded noise insulation, adopting the 2.4-litre diesel as used in the latest Triton, and a sophisticated new eight-speed auto, make the Pajero Sport noticeably smoother and quieter.
The new gearbox helps harness the engine’s 430Nm of torque for solid performance and better fuel consumption. Official consumption has dropped significantly from the Challenger’s 9.8 litres, down to 8.0 litres/100km.
The newcomer is rated to a useful 3100kg maximum towing capacity.
Road manners are more refined, too. The steering is quicker and more accurate, handling is competent in class terms, and ride quality also is enhanced.
Off-road ability remains a strength and new features include hill-descent control, a rear diff-lock (GLS and Exceed), and four selectable off-road driving modes for different terrains. Mitsubishi’s Super Select II 4WD system with low range and centre diff-lock is standard.