Bangkok, Thailand - Mitsubishi has given the facelifted Pajero Sport its world premiere in Bangkok during a launch ceremony that took place at the Centara Grand Convention Center in the heart of the city.
The four-year-old, third-generation Pajero Sport receives updated styling, a host of new technical features, new colours, new trims and new upgrades to connectivity with novelties such as a mobile phone activation option for the tailgate. With these changes Mitsubishi will be hoping the big SUV can stay competitive in the busy pickup-based SUV segment.
The Pajero Sport is one of Mitsubishi’s most strategic global models and, with 77,000 units sold in around 90 countries last year, keeping it in the game is of vital importance. It’s based on the architecture of the rugged and popular Triton pickup – and that means every unit sold offers the company a very tidy profit margin.
The third-generation model was launched almost exactly four years ago so it’s time for a refresh in a crowded segment here that includes popular choices such as Toyota’s market leading Hilux-based Fortuner, Ford’s gate-crashing Ranger-based Everest and the newest entry into this party, Nissan’s Navara-based Terra.
The Pajero Sport is well regarded here with almost thirteen thousand sold in Thailand last year while Indonesia accounted for a further twenty thousand units. As well as South East Asia, its key markets include the Middle East and Australia while further afield it’s also imported into the UK.
Thailand is the Pajero Sport’s primary production hub, at its Laem Chabang site around 120km South of Bangkok, so it was logical to give it a world debut in Thailand.
The third-generation model when launched followed the trend set by the Ranger/Everest with a much more imposing front end with an equally attention-grabbing chrome effect grille somewhat in the style of traditional American market pickups.
That visually-aggressive styling trend has become mainstream now and the facelifted version has been reworked at the front to incorporate the more recent evolutions of the ‘family’ styling – dubbed ‘Dynamic Shield’ by Mitsubishi – that was introduced when the latest Pajero Sport was launched four years ago and evolved by the Expander 7-seat crossover in 2017, the facelifted Triton pickup, which arrived at the end of last year, as well as the Eclipse Cross, which doesn’t come here.
The new Pajero Sport receives the revised ‘family’ grille while the small lower fog lights of the outgoing model have been jettisoned and instead there are big and chunky new combination lamps recessed into position higher up that aim to give the front end a wider and more arresting appearance. Although much bigger, by being located higher up and recessed they should be less prone to being broken by stones.
As Mitsubishi chase an even more prominent front end the bonnet has been raised to give a more slab-shaped feel while a new chrome effect skid plate at the bottom of the spoiler also stands out.
Also on the exterior there are new two-tone 18-inch alloy wheels while at the rear there is a new chrome effect finish skin plate while the taillamps are reworked with new LED combinations that aim to imbue the individually distinctive ‘red lines’ that have become signatures of cars at night.
If that’s not enough the Pajero Sport comes with an optional body kit that adds more depth and an even more square shape to the front and rear ends while wheel arch trims, a patterned finish to the side steps for better foot grip and LED lights in the scuff plates are amongst further options.
Completing the outside of the SUV there are two new body colours, “White Diamond” – replacing the existing white option – and “Graphite Grey”. That gives a choice of 5 colours, it’s a small offering, but this segment is mostly conservative when it comes to hues and its paint finishes broadly mimic its key rivals.
The interior is essentially the same with a few detail changes. The 8-inch LED screen has better graphics, there are a number of new chromed accents, including in the door handles, for a more premium feel, while the rear AC power outlet and USB plug offer more convenient use by passengers in the back. But it’s still a pretty class average interior.
New though is a hands-free functionality feature for the tailgate which can now be operated via smartphone as well as setting an optional reservation service for remote opening and closing. The app, which works within Bluetooth range, will also inform the driver if the tailgate has been left open or the headlights on.
On the safety front the new model gets Lane Change Assist (LCA) and Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) functions to add to a list that already includes ABS, Brake Assist, Active Stability and Traction Control, Hill Start, Electronic Brake Force Distribution and Hill Descent Control, keeping it in line with the class.
Mechanically, the Pajero Sport is unchanged and retains the 2.4 MIVEC turbodiesel and 8-speed automatic transmission as well as the option of the non-permanent “Super Select” 4WD-II system which now comes with a new off-road selector that Mitsubishi says “elevates all-terrain performance and self-extraction capability through integrated control of engine output, transmission settings and brake power”.
The new Pajero Sport comes in three versions and pricing has been tweaked to align with recent changes in the segment. The “2WD GT” opens the range at 1,299,000 baht (SGD$65,255.9 accurate as of 29th July 2019) and is followed by higher specification “2WD GT Premium” at 1,469,000 baht (or SGD$ 65,287.68). Both two-wheel-drive versions have seen their pricing drop slightly.
The fully loaded range topping “4WD GT Premium” version is priced at 1,599,000 (or SGD$71,065.35) and that’s an increase over the outgoing model but still represents better value than a similar spec’d Everest.