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Mitsubishi claims its update of the 1998 GLS Pajero is the most significant change in any of its four-wheel-drive range for some time. It features a number of styling updates that distinguish it from the cheaper GL and GLX versions and the new petrol engine it shares with the rest of the Pajero range, runs happily on standard unleaded fuel.
The new body style no longer requires wheel arch extensions as the front and rear guards have been widened to fully cover the wheels, and colour-keyed mud flaps now form the rear of the wheel arches. The revised styling encompasses the front bumper, head and sidelights, blending them in with the front guard treatment, while the now standard alloy steps flow into the front and rear wheel arches.
The mid-sized four-wheel drive market has become rather crowded with Pajero competing against no less than eight similar sized makes with numerous individual models.
The short wheelbase GLS is only available with the 3.5 litre petrol engine, but with a choice of manual or automatic transmission. In addition to these two variants the long wheelbase version offers the option of a 2.8 litre turbo diesel engine with manual transmission only. Prices start at $46,470 for the SWB 3.5 manual, and extend to $49,560 for the LWB 2.8 manual turbo diesel. Our test was conducted on a LWB 3.5 petrol manual version fitted with a $5300 optional luxury pack consisting of leather seat and steering wheel covers, woodgrain dash and console trim, power operated driver's seat, dual airconditioning, dual air bags, ABS brakes and remote keyless entry.
The NL model has been given an all new 3.5 litre V6 engine with four valves per cylinder and only one camshaft per side in contrast to the previous model engine with two shafts per side. The claimed maximum power is not quite as high as the previous model engine but there is no performance penalty and best of all, this engine runs on ULP with an improved fuel consumption of about 12 per cent. It is also smooth and quiet in operation.
The five speed manual transmission is easy to use with light and smooth gear lever operation. All ratios are well placed and suited to the engine's torque band.
Although the suspension is soft and comfortable around the city and suburbs, I found it to be quite harsh when encountering rougher surfaces. The high body style lifts the vehicle's centre of gravity and contributes to considerable body roll when cornering. Although the Pajero has a hand throttle and inclinometer, which are handy for serious off-road situations, the torsion bar front and coil spring rear suspension still lacks sufficient travel to cope. However, the Pajero is still a good performer for average off-road usage.
The four-wheel disc brakes with ABS functioned satisfactorily, although they did heat up considerably with a significant increase in pedal pressure during our performance testing. The steering turning circle is poor for this size vehicle.
Front seats offer good comfort with electric controls on the driver's seat enabling quick easy adjustment for the right position. Although the middle row of seats is for three it really is only comfortable for two, due to the join in the centre and the large fold-down armrests on each end. The rear row of seats is suitable for only children or small adults and access past the middle seat when folded down is difficult.
The Pajero is a smart contemporary four-wheel-drive vehicle that is smooth, quiet and easy to operate. The new 3.5 litre V6 engine that runs on standard unleaded fuel and offers improved fuel consumption, makes it a better proposition than the previous model.
For medium level four-wheel driving and reasonably heavy duty towing, the Pajero is an excellent vehicle for the modern outdoor family.
Test vehicle supplied by Mitsubishi Motors Australia Ltd.
Poor turning circle
|Country of manufacture||Japan|
|Warranty||3 years, 100 000 km|
$46,470 - SWB
|Number of cylinders||6|
|Engine size||3.5 L|
|Induction||Multipoint fuel injection|
|Wheel size||16 "|
|Type||Yokohama / 265/70R16|
|Turning circle (measured)||13.0 m|
|Width (including mirrors)||1955 mm|
|Fuel capacity||92 litres|
|Max towed mass (trailer plus load)||1775 kg|
NRMA Theft Rating
|Points on scale 0 - 120 (high score is best)||71|
Acceleration - Test results
|50 - 80km/h||5.5 secs|
|60 - 100km/h||7.8 secs|
|0 - 80km/h||8.8 secs|
|0 - 100km/h||13.6 secs|
|Best recorded during testing||11.5 L/100km|
|Worst recorded during testing||13.3 L/100km|
|Average on test||12.1 L/100km|
|Distance to stop (from 80km/h)||38.5 metres|
|Interior noise at constant 80km/h||66 dB(A)|