New Pajero Sport to kick-start 2016 for Mitsubishi
Mitsubishi is planning to more than quadruple sales of large SUVs in New Zealand via the launch of a brand new model, the Pajero Sport.
The new SUV goes on sale next month, replacing the ageing Pajero and Challenger models in the segment. However, Mitsubishi NZ plans to continue to sell the Pajero to cover for a lack of a seven-seater SUV when the five seater-only Sport arrives.
At present Mitsubishi sells about 20 of the current Pajeros and Challengers a month and the plan is to use the Pajero Sport to increase that to at least 100.
Daniel Cook, Mitsubishi NZ's head of sales and marketing strategy, says his company doesn't expect to fully challenge the likes of the Hyundai Santa Fe and the Toyota Highlander in sales volume.
"But we do expect the Pajero Sport to be among the top four or five best-sellers in the large SUV segment," he said during an Australasian media launch in New South Wales on Thursday.
"This new model is a very good SUV that we believe we have priced very attractively."
Pajero Sport, built off the ladder chassis platform of the Triton ute, is powered by the same 2.4-litre MIVEC turbocharged diesel. This engine develops 135 kilowatts of power and 437 newton metres of torque.
But what is dramatically different with the Pajero Sport is that where the Triton's engine is mated to a five-speed automatic from the current Pajero, the Pajero Sport's transmission is a brand-new eight speeder.
Another major difference is that the Triton has the traditional one-tonne ute leaf-sprung rear suspension while the Pajero Sport has a coil sprung setup for a more passenger car-like ride.
The end result is a new SUV that offers an impressively sophisticated and quiet drive on the road, while retaining the true offroading ability that has become a hallmark of the Pajero name.
During Thursday's media event, journalists were invited to take the Pajero Sport on solid offroad workouts that included driving across giant sandhills near Newcastle before heading into rugged hills overlooking the Hunter Valley.
They were the perfect combination to not only demonstrate Mitsubishi's well-known Super-Select 4WD system but also to try out a newly-installed hill descent control and a new Off-Road Mode which lets the driver dial in specific surfaces for maximum traction. These surfaces are gravel, sand/snow, sand, and rock. On-board computers optimise wheelspin, transmission, brake force and engine power for maximum offroad capability.
The Super Select 4WD combines forces with the hill descent control and the Off-Road Mode to turn on a display of strong offroad ability. It quickly became obvious that the Pajero Sport is going to be one of the most capable offroading SUVs on the New Zealand market.
But the truth is that these days not many people take their SUVs off the road - instead they're the new-age wagon.
The good news is that it is also impressive on the seal. A highway drive into Sydney showed the vehicle to be long in the legs thanks to that eight-speed auto. It is an easy and relaxed drive, and at 100kmh the engine is ticking over at less than 1600rpm, which contributes to a published average fuel consumption figure of 8L/100km.
Pajero Sport is the first Mitsubishi to be designed from the ground up using the brand's new "dynamic shield" frontal design that was seen in New Zealand for the first time on the facelifted Outlander. It's a distinctive-looking SUV, with vertical tail lights perhaps its most memorable design element.
The interior design makes heavy use of piano black and silver accents, the steering wheel is a new four-spoke design, and seating is comfortable front and rear. Being a five-seater, the Pajero Sport offers an enormous amount of rear load space - 673 litres with all seats in use, growing to 1624 litres when the rear seats are folded down.
Tow capacity is up to 3100kg braked, and trailer stability control is standard to help minimise the risk of trailer sway.
Other standard safety items are hill start assist, emergency stop signal, speed sensing automatic door locking, a rear-view camera and reversing sensors.
Two versions will be sold in New Zealand.
The entry model will be the XLS which will come with 18-inch alloy wheels, halogen headlights and daytime running lights, integrated side steps, privacy glass, high-grade cloth seats, keyless entry and start, automatic air conditioning, six-speaker audio, and a Mitsubishi Connect audio system which allows Android Auto or Apple CarPlay to run through the car's 7-inch display screen.
The system also offers Bluetooth for such activities as hands-free texting, and playing content stored on USB and HDMI devices.
Top version will be the VRX, which will feature 18-inch machine finish alloys, LED headlights and tail-lights, leather interior trim, heated and powered front seats, eight-speaker audio system, dual zone automatic air conditioning, and an electro-chromatic rear view mirror.
The VRX also boasts a full suite of safety-related extras including forward collision mitigation, an around-view monitor system, blind spot monitoring, dusk sensing headlights, rain-sensing wipers, and an unintended acceleration mitigation system.
Prices will be $58,990 for the XLS and $63,990 for the VRX. Cook confirmed Mitsubishi NZ intends offering the XLS for a special introductory price of $49,990 until about March.
Mitsubishi has been enjoying sales growth in New Zealand for six years now, and arrival of the Pajero Sport will add momentum to that growth, he said.
"This is a premium new-generation SUV. In every respect this is one of Mitsubishi's most advanced vehicles ever, and one of the safest. We anticipate a lot of interest."