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In recent times, the sales of diesel engined four-wheel drives have steadily increased along with the introduction of a new generation of diesel engines. Many of the current diesel engines offer lively performance and good fuel economy, and are reasonably refined. Automatic transmissions are also becoming a commonplace option in most model ranges, broadening the appeal of a diesel four-wheel drive.
One of the latest diesel engine updates to arrive in Australia is the release of an all new direct injection turbo diesel unit that is now available in the Mitsubishi Pajero. The new powerplant has a capacity of 3.2 litres and replaces the 2.8 litre indirect injection engine that has been part of the Pajero line-up since the early '90s. In addition to the new engine, the Pajero will receive a number of exterior detail changes as part of a facelift for the 2003 model. The changes include a new grille, restyled front bumper, revised tail light surrounds and updated side body mouldings.
The new diesel engine is a giant leap forward for Mitsubishi, making much better use of available technology, in addition to offering a significant increase in capacity over the outgoing engine. The new diesel is a double overhead camshaft configuration that features four valves per cylinder and an intercooler to produce 121 kW of power at 3800 rpm and 373 Nm of torque at just 2000 rpm. Despite a notable improvement in power output, Mitsubishi also claims that the improved breathing efficiency of the new engine delivers a reduction in fuel consumption of a similar order.
Mitsubishi first offered its tiptronic five-speed automatic transmission in the petrol variant of the NM series Pajero, launched back in 2000. Now the same transmission is also available with the new diesel powerplant. Of course, a five-speed-manual gearbox is standard fitment with Di-D Pajero.
The new diesel is available in three model variants, the GLX, the GLS and the Exceed. GL diesel has now been omitted from the model line-up. Prices of the new Di-D models start at $49,990 for the GLX, $55,810 for the GLS and $61,490 for the Exceed (all fitted with a manual gearbox). The tiptronic automatic transmission is available as an option on all three abovementioned variants for an additional $3000. Dealer charges and statutory costs are extra.
The GLX Di-D Pajero with five-speed-manual gearbox was the variant evaluated for this report and represents the entry level diesel Pajero. The standard equipment features of this vehicle are reasonably good and include airconditioning, power steering, electric mirrors and windows, radio/CD player, engine immobiliser, driver's airbag, limited slip differential and cruise control (now standard on all Di-D models). Significantly, anti-lock brakes are not fitted to the GLX, while a passenger's airbag is available as an option.
A monocoque body shell has been used since the introduction of the NM Pajero, and aside from the new engine, the structure of the Pajero remains unaltered. The test vehicle appeared reasonably well finished, although it had been subjected to a fairly hard life. As a result, the Pajero had a couple of rattles and some poor fitting body mouldings.
The interior of the Pajero is roomy enough to satisfy the space requirements of most adults. The front bucket seats are quite comfortable, offering good lateral support but no lumbar adjustment. The rear seat is a 60/40 split-fold unit that is quite basic in shape and there is still only a lap belt for the centre rear seating position. A foldout third row seat provides additional seating for two small children.
The Pajero has a good layout of controls and instruments that, typically of many Japanese vehicles, is clear and easy to operate. While the steering wheel may be tilted, there is no adjustment for reach.
The new 3.2 litre Di-D engine is an impressive unit that develops good power and torque, and delivers good performance. The engine comes into its own on the open road where it is particularly responsive, providing easy and safe overtaking. I still found the engine in the GLX quite noisy, with a pronounced amount of diesel clatter permeating the cabin of the vehicle.
The Pajero's suspension is very compliant and gives the occupants a very comfortable ride. The brakes would certainly benefit from the addition of ABS, as it was easy to lock the wheels during a sudden stop and for the vehicle to get out of shape.
Mitsubishi's new 3.2 litre direct injection diesel engine is an impressive unit that helps bolster the ranks of the Pajero and broaden its appeal. With a significant capacity increase and use of more up to date technology, the Di-D engine delivers greatly improved performance and better fuel economy.
Test vehicle supplied by Mitsubishi Motors Australia Ltd.
Responsive new engine
Significant engine noise
|Country of manufacture||Japan|
|Warranty||Three years, 100,000 km|
$49,990 - GLX
|Number of cylinders||4|
|Engine size||3.2 L|
|Induction||Direct injection turbocharged|
|Claimed max power (kW)||121 kW @ 3800 rpm|
|Claimed max torque (Nm)||373 Nm @ 2000 rpm|
|Wheel size||16 "|
|Spare tyre type||Full size|
|Type||Power-assisted rack and pinion|
|Turns to lock||3.6 m|
|Turning circle (measured)||11.8 m|
|Width (including mirrors)||2075 mm|
|Seating capacity||5 + 2|
|Fuel capacity||90 litres|
|Max towed mass (trailer plus load)||2500 kg|
NRMA Theft Rating
|Points on scale 0 - 120 (high score is best)||61|
Acceleration - Test results
|50 - 80km/h||4.6 secs|
|60 - 100km/h||7.2 secs|
|0 - 80km/h||8.4 secs|
|0 - 100km/h||13.3 secs|
|Best recorded during testing||9.4 L/100km|
|Worst recorded during testing||12.7 L/100km|
|Average on test||11.1 L/100km|
|Distance to stop (from 80km/h)||35.3 metres|
|Interior noise at constant 80km/h||70 dB(A)|