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Pimped-up Pajero is a pro



I WONDER what refinements they made to the Pajero’s exterior? A brighter bulb in the blinker, a bit more chrome somewhere?

I don’t know and I wonder if anyone at Mitsubishi knows either, because there’s no further mention of the claimed “exterior refinements”.

Not that it really matters because a heck of a lot of refinement has been carried out under the bonnet and to the interior, made all the more noticeable by my transfer from a slightly less expensive rival to a Pajero VRX Di-D (Direct injection Diesel, get it?).

While my previous mount did an OK job, the Pajero produced comforts and performance way beyond expectation.

In its latest update, the evergreen Pajero has gained a much stronger diesel engine and a slick new automatic transmission.

It also has improved towing capacity, a smarter, quieter interior, a few more models in its big family – and prices have gone up, in some cases quite sharply.

Known as the NT Pajero, it retains the 3.2litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel, but output has gone up from 125kW and 373Nm to a much fitter 147kW and a whopping 441Nm.

That means it will use more juice, right? Wrong. It uses 13 per cent less.

If you get the sporty short wheelbase three-door manual model you’ll get better than 9.0litres/100km and the regular one should give a return of  11.2litres/100km.

That’s partly due to a bigger variable-geometry turbocharger and some clever plumbing to the air and fuel passages in the motor.

Good news is the diesel is available across the entire and newly extended range, one reminiscent of the annual gathering of the clan. At last count I think there were 18 Pajeros of one kind or another, diesels, petrols, manuals, autos, three-doors, five-doors, base, mid-range, sporty, luxury and ostentatious versions.

Prices start at $43,990, peaking at $74,790.

Our VRX slotted in second from the top in pecking order, with a price tag of $66,490.

The serious lads will be happy to know towing capacity is up 500kg to 3000kg and that the vehicle, which has already won a couple of ‘4WD of the Year’ awards, comes with a centre diff and a rear diff lock, will climb any mountain, ford any stream. Or something like that.

But most VRXs will take mum and the kids to school and back, to the shops, the city, the park.

They’ll travel in great style, because the surprisingly virile machine – it runs to 100km/h in 11.3 seconds – has a fab audio system, a beautiful blue-lit dash, full leather seat trim, powered (and warmed) front seats, privacy glass and suchlike luxuries.

Naturally it has bits like rain-sensing wipers, lights that switch themselves on as needed, an electronic safety system that restores order should the driver manage to unsettle the spacious SUV, and a set of foglights (because you never know).

It’s a sweet thing to drive. Comfy, lovely touch to the steering wheel and the switchgear, excellent view, and our car had a very good wide-angle reversing camera that displayed a bright picture on the mini-TV screen.

It ran on 18-inch alloys, was easy to park, a delight on the suburban roads and freeways – and to test its off-road abilities, I did venture across a metre or two of lawn between me and the neighbour.

Nobody is going to take a vehicle of such class on a paint-scratching, dust-penetrating, spring-graunching rocky incline. Not if they’ve paid nearly $70,000 for it.

No. They’re going to enjoy the ambience of the five-star cabin, put a nice John Cougar Mellencamp CD in the 850W 12-speaker Rockford Acoustic music thingy, cruise along blissfully on a scenic country road and smile graciously at the people carting tents, caravans and hiking gear in battered trailers behind their workhorse 4WDs.

This one is for people who prefer an Omega to a Zobo, Emirates to Virgin Blue … you know what I mean.

The beautifully-finished VRX will take up to seven people (the two rear seats fold away underfloor when not needed), the cargo area is uncluttered because the spare wheel is outside and if, perchance, the vehicle finds itself steered into a rough patch, it has all the equipment to be driven out again.

A class act.

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