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Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Shogun: All-conquering Overlander


ON THE motoring journalism side I get to drive roughly one hundred new vehicles a year. This includes press units delivered for a week at a time, and cars encountered on launches, and they range from budget hatchbacks to supercars to SUVs, a class of vehicle that South Africans are enthralled by - along with much of the world.

Most of them are good for there really are very few bad cars left on our market - which I suppose does make motoring journalism a little more challenging than in decades past when there were still some dire and obvious whipping boys on sale. Some are brilliant.

Yet occasionally I encounter a vehicle that leaves me thinking, "Ya...I'd buy one of these." And this is not always based on tangibles such as cutting-edge technology or performance.

The Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Shogun is one of these vehicles, and even though it's arguably dated against other bakkie-based SUVs, especially the latest Ford Everest and Toyota's soon-to-be-launched new Fortuner, there's a reassuring solidity, purpose and practicality to it. Especially now that in Shogun guise the venerable Pajero Sport comes loaded as standard with more than R70,000 worth of extras thanks to Mitsubishi having teamed up with the likes of Tough Dog, Maps 4 Africa, and Opposite Lock to create what they dub "the ultimate overlander."

"Pajero Sport families, like Pajero families, use their vehicles regularly for heading off the beaten track. With this in mind, we approached some of South Africa's best known off-road specialists to put together a list of bespoke adventure gear for the Pajero Sport," says Wynand Pretorius, the affable Chief Operations Officer (COO) at Mitsubishi Motors SA.

The base vehicle remains essentially unaltered. This means you get the well-respected 2.5 Di-D turbodiesel engine making 131kW and 350Nm, available from 1,800 to 3,500rpm, with zero to 100km/h coming up in under nine seconds. Expect it to (theoretically) sip around 8.5 litres of diesel per 100km.

Power runs through a five-speed automatic, while of course the machine is equipped with Mitsubishi's Dakar-proven Super Select 4WD system. This gives four different driving modes including 2WD, 4WD, 4WD with lock up, and 4WD low range.

As for that extra kit, well, it includes Geoland all-terrain tyres from Yokohama, heavy-duty front and rear shocks from Australian company Tough Dog, and heavy-duty protection plates for the engine and gearbox as well as rock-sliders, all courtesy of Stofpad.

From Front Runner comes an off-road snorkel, custom roof rack (with spotlight) and detachable tow bar, while inside there's a handy rubber cargo protector. Every new owner of a Pajero Sport Shogun will also receive the latest Garmin GPS Nuvi-cam device that's pre-loaded with popular African overland routes and maps thanks to Maps 4 Africa.

On the move the Pajero Sport Shogun feels like the overlander it is, and while it's perfectly useable in the urban environment its sealed-surface manners are not nearly as polished as those of more sophisticated, road-biased SUVs. But then this vehicle is not designed solely for school runs and perhaps occasionally ironing out speed bumps or mounting pavements. It's far more hardcore than that - and buyers need to remember this when opting for one. But its off-road prowess, engineering integrity and proven reliability are simply superb. As is the fact that at a very accessible R514,900 the price remains essentially unchanged - despite the addition of all that kit.

Also included in the price is a five-year/90,000km service plan, and a three-year/100,000km warranty - as well as the ability, of course, to simply fuel the machine and head for Cairo on a whim.

Nice, Mitsubishi. Very nice.

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