What ‘killed’ the Pajero’s pomp?
Posted Thursday, January 24 2013 at 02:00
Several years back, the Mitsubishi Pajero was the king of off-road driving and even went on to win the fierce Paris Dakar rally a number of times and thus won over fans. However, whatever goes up must come down and so did the car’s popularity in Uganda. The Toyota Prado among others have since stolen the shine.
Mitsubishi Pajero. There was a time when this car was a symbol of privileged circumstances, prosperity and material comfort. Pajero was Pajero. I would never really have thought about it but as I was typing this article it occurred to me just how peculiar the word Pajero actually is, don’t you think? A quick Internet search revealed that since pajero is an offensive term for “wanker” in Spanish, the Japanese manufacturers had to come up with alternative names for many markets overseas.
It is known as the Mitsubishi Montero (meaning “mountain hunter” in Spain, India, and the Americas (except Brazil), and as the Mitsubishi Shogun in the United Kingdom. Mitsubishi’s darling even did inspire competition to come up with answers such as the Prado. All over a sudden, the popularity dipped. It dipped so hard that you rarely see one on the roads today. The Toyota Rav4 swiftly replaced the once popular with the ladies; Pajero short chassis. Of course, there are the newer ones, which for some reason seem to be reserved for government ministries and big organisations.
First things first
The once Big Daddy of Japanese 4x4s has been around since the ‘80s, earning respect for its durability, reliability and spaciousness, nonetheless, as technology advances we see some things become obsolete or they are replaced by the bigger and better. The automotive world is no exception to this rule. How it works is quite simple. A car may be released with technology that has never been seen before and set a standard among the next line of vehicles to hit the market.
However, when a vehicle manages to achieve a higher standard than those of its class then it certainly negatively affects other cars in its genre.Unfortunately, the Mitsubishi Pajero is a victim of this constant loop of advances. The Pajero seems to have been left behind in the race right after 1996 and the rising status of the Prado.
When it held its own mark
The Pajero was available in 2800cc diesel, 3000cc and 3500cc petrol engine variants. The 2.8 and 3.0 had very similar power output figures with the diesel winning with greater available torque. The 3.5 was by far the most powerful option, giving very usable power for on and off road use. The diesel engine was an in-line 4 cylinder block with an inter-cooler and a turbocharger, both options for petrol were in the V6 configuration and naturally aspirated meaning no turbochargers and the like.
On the more lavish versions, Mitsubishi did use their ‘Super Select’ transmission option to deliver selectable drive to either two or four wheels dependant on requirement. This was delivered via either an automatic or manual gearbox. This meant that you had several options when on the move. Either two-wheel drive via the rear wheels, or differing choices of four-wheel drive.
Hard to keep at the top
With our poor roads, poor and sporadic service to the cars, the Pajero proved to be a pain to own. And as we all know we have always been moving towards tighter economic times way back. The constant breakdowns gave the Pajero bad buzz among buyers. At the garages you hear things like gearboxes are the first bits to break. Listen for transmission whine, under body damage, grumbling wheel bearings, suspension alignment, pathetic body roll in tight corners, very soft suspension, steering arm ball joints, the diesels are slow and all engines are thirsty, rust everywhere on older models etc, the list goes on. And finally, the appearance of the first Prado sealed the deal. However, the Pajero seems to be making a comeback with the newer models. But the price tags are still way out of reach for many. Most of these are government or company driven and as usual with cars in this category, they are either banged up and look ugly or are in pristine condition.