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Mitsubishi’s legendary Pajero returns


This is Africa! If you want a vehicle that can handle what Africa has to throw at it then you need something with a proven track record, something tough and something capable and comfortable. Currently, something like a Land Rover Defender would be ideal but let’s be honest, it’s a bit prehistoric. Now there are some vehicles that can deal with the demands of the modern-day explorer, like the latest Mitsubishi Pajero Legend II, which I drove.

I’ll be up-front about this, the Pajero is showing its age when you look at the competitors from Toyota and Ford; however, it does have its advantages in that it is hugely capable off-road and it has a slight charm to it. What does this new version with almost R50 000 worth of value offer?

On the outside, the car remains pretty much unchanged; it’s easily identifiable as being a vehicle with a purpose. It’s large, high off the ground and square, everything you want to fend off a few taxis looking to cut you off in traffic. The Legend II does make use of some added kit though, like the heavy-duty rock sliders that run along the side of the car. Underneath, Mitsubishi has fitted yet more heavy-duty protection plates below the engine and another below the gearbox assembly, which will protect the important bits from any potential damage should your off-road skills fail you.

Other additions to the Legend II include some Legend II badges as well as a heavy-duty tow bar from Bosal and a Pajero-stamped chrome nudge bar. On the outside the car looks ready for action, even though I still maintain it looks a bit dated now. What about the interior then?

Unfortunately, the same can be said for inside. It feels and looks old; however, that being said, I found that if you are in the market for a tough car then you probably don’t want a tech-fest interior with more electronic gadgets than NASA! The design is simple yet ergonomic. The centre stack features a touchscreen display which works in conjunction with the reverse camera. The multimedia system is connected to a decent Rockford sound system which features many speakers throughout the cabin as well as a subwoofer at the rear.

As for the comfort aspect, the Pajero does offer some nice features like leather seats as well as wood trim on the steering wheel, which in my opinion features far too many buttons. Once you familiarise yourself where and what everything does, it tends to become less of an issue. Above the centre screen is that iconic vehicle information display which looks like it comes from the 90s. It shows fuel range as well as trip information plus a graph showing altitude change for when you decide to drive up Mount Kilimanjaro.  So as not to get lost on your expedition, the Pajero Legend II offers a high-end Garmin nüviCam with magnetic mount and built-in dash cam (unexpected wildlife encounters). The system features the brilliant Tracks4Africa off-road map set for Southern Africa.

Under the hood one will find the tried and tested 3.2-litre DI-D turbo-diesel engine, which uses a high-pressure common rail direct injection system to deliver 140kW and 441Nm of torque. What’s more, this engine will happily run on 500ppm diesel for when you are unable to find 10ppm in the Congo. Power is delivered to the rear wheels through a five-speed automatic gearbox – okay, even Toyota offers a six-speed now - with self-shifting options for those who want control. The gearbox is mated to Mitsubishi’s unique Super-Select II 4WD system, which allows for an unmatched level of control in all conditions.

The Pajero will happily go where you point it once you pop it into low-range and lock the rear and centre diff. The car’s torque peaks at around 200rpm, which means that all 441Nm are available at crawl speeds, ideal for off-roading.

On the road though the car delivers a comfortable ride; I won’t compare it to whipped cream or some silly analogy like that but for a big SUV it is decent. I will admit, it’s not light on fuel and the engine does sound agricultural. The gearbox is lazy but then again this is no Autobahn SUV. This is a simple, reliable, tough vehicle and carrying a price tag of R759 900 it is the most affordable in its class.

Article written by Justin Jacobs
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