Underneath the 4x2, the Pajero Sport makes use of a 2.5-litre common-rail turbo-diesel engine with 131kW and 350Nm, which emits a lovely whistle once the turbo has spooled. The unit performs well, but when coupled with the relatively old five-speed torque-converter automatic transmission, it does exhibit a fair amount of turbo lag. The steering also feels quite heavy due to the chunky off-road tyres, meaning that quick manoeuvres such as pulling out of a junction in an urban environment become increasingly difficult.
On the open road, it becomes a far better driving experience with very little wind noise and the well-judged damping irons out bumps. Driving the Sport around, I gathered the sense that this is an extremely robust machine that is sure to last a lifetime. The mechanics may be relatively old, but at the same time they have been proven to last, which is what you ultimately want in a lifestyle vehicle: longevity.
The manufacturer claims an average fuel consumption of 8.5 litres/100km, but I could only muster 10.2 litres/100km, which when you consider the 70-litre fuel tank, still gives it a good range. The 4x2 is no slouch off-road either, granted you cannot climb or descend overly mountainous or slippery terrain as well as in the 4x4 model, but for mild off-roading, the 205mm ground clearance and grippy tyres cope just fine.
The interior is capacious to say the least. In many seven-seater vehicles, the final row is never meant for anyone from outside the shire. In the Sport, however, there is enough space for two average-sized adults with some semblance of a boot still visible. Should you keep the third-row seats down, there is 1 149 litres of luggage space. The faux-carbon-fibre appearance of some of the trim seems to work well with the rest of the cabin’s design, which includes black leather seats, a multi-function steering wheel with cruise control and audio controls.
The touch-screen Mitsubishi Link system is something I struggled to get working. For instance, I initially could not get my phone to pair to the system. When I eventually got it working, it proved intuitive and easy to work, but at that stage I would imagine anyone would have felt the frustration.
Pricing is key in any market, but especially when you are competing against the well-established Chevrolet Trailblazer and industry stalwart Toyota Fortuner. The Toyota is priced at R447 200 for the 3.0-litre 4x2 auto diesel and the Chevrolet at R451 800 for the 2.8-litre 4x2 diesel.
The Pajero Sport 4x2 comes in at R419 900 and is covered by a 3-year/100 000km warranty and 5-year/90 000km service plan. That makes it a very good value proposition considering the generous standard specification and rugged appeal. I would still go for the 4x4 variant for its sheer ability and relatively small premium of R35 000 though.