The Mitsubishi Pajero is dead, and I’m gonna miss it
A eulogy, and a review
Back in 2019, Mitsubishi launched the Pajero Final Edition, of which only 700 units were built and only for the Japanese market, which was supposed to mark the end of the road for Mitsubishi’s most popular off-roader. And it did, but I guess we can be glad the Pajero managed to stick around for a couple more years.
It’s a sad day for off-road enthusiasts, as the Pajero (sold and marketed as Shogun or Montero in different markets) becomes yet another victim of the extremely stringent regulations in place in terms of emissions. During its long and varied history, over 3 million units have been sold in 39 years.
The first generation debuted in 1982 in Tokyo, available as a 3-door (short wheelbase) or as a 5-door with long wheelbase. It was a sturdy form-follows-function type of vehicle but it was quite advanced for the time. It was available with a turbodiesel engine, which was a novelty in the early 80s, independent suspensions and power steering. Apart from the 2.3 L turbodiesel, buyers also had a choice for two petrol engines, a 2 L petrol and a 3 L V6.
In 1983, Mitsubishi introduced the 7-seater variant and the Evolution, the off-roading racer and 7-time winner of the Paris-Dakar rally.
The second generation Pajero was unveiled in 1991 with new engines and an all-new Super Select 4WD system. It was available with a 2.5 L diesel and, after 1993, a 2.8 L diesel and a 3.5 L V6.
The third generation, introduced in 1999, came with a bigger and completely redesigned body. The new Super Select 4WD had been improved with a torque-vectoring system which would detect what sort of terrain you were on and distribute power and torque accordingly. There was a new 3.8 L V6 petrol and a new 3.2 turbodiesel engine.
The fourth generation, the one you could buy until today, was unveiled in 2006 with minor modifications in the exterior and significant improvements to the interior. The body has fundamentally never changed over the last 13 years, becoming somewhat iconic, but several technological additions in the cabin meant the Pajero managed to stay relevant, in tune with the times, while always retaining its... soul.
‘My’ Pajero 100th Anniversary Edition
These pictures were taken in 2018 with my iPhone 6
A few years ago, on my way to the Top Marques Monaco - which is another great car show that C19 ruined - I realized two things about the Pajero: it’s awesome and it’s thirsty.
Three days before I was due to leave for Monaco - I’d already bought train tickets - I got a call from Mitsubishi Italia. ”Hey would you like to drive a 100th Anniversary Edition for a few weeks?” asked the head of PR. “100th Anniversary of what? The Pajero was launched in the 1980s.”
I didn’t get an answer but I did get the car. It’s called the 100th Anniversary Edition to celebrate the company’s 100th birthday and it’s a wondrous, blacked-out, diesel-powered version of the only vehicle in the world that’s called ‘Wan*er’. Fun fact: the Pajero is marketed as Montero in South America but the name means…that.
Now that’s a cool vehicle. And there are also two Ferraris
The 100 (let’s call it that) was made exclusively for the Italian market, and limited to 100 units. Under the bonnet, you’ll find a 3.2-litre V6 diesel that’s thirsty, and torquey. Fuel consumption figures were appalling, I definitely would’ve said money if I’d taken the train, and it was difficult to park because it’s tall and broad and long (1.86 mt W x 1.88 mt H x 4.9 mt L).
It’s a little unrefined, and a little too brisk for everyday use, but its 190-hp, 310-lb-ft diesel engine sounds and drives and feels like nothing else these days. Mainly because diesel is de-facto defunct.
It’s spacious but uncomfortable. It has a sat-nav that works pretty well and low-range, it also has a surprisingly large boot, which I basically used as a closet (it was very hot in Monaco so I‘d change clothes at least twice a day. Plus, and I’m Italian, which means I’m biologically programmed to look good at all times) because the car is so tall.
What the hell was I doing? And why does it look like I only have one leg?
I don’t usually care when cars are retired but this is different. I like the Pajero, and I hate the fact that it is falling victim to the eco-frenzy. Carmakers need billions, plural, just to keep their cars road legal and compliant with the stringent regulations, and Mitsubishi knows that replacing the Pajero just doesn’t make financial sense right now. And let’s face it, we already know that it‘ll probably come back as a watered-down electric SUV in the future.