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The Mitsubishi Pajero Sport won its category as Large SUV/Crossover in the coveted CAR Magazine’s annual Top 12 Best Buys awards for 2021.

Announced today (Friday 12 March 2021), the CAR team says “it is the excellence of your product that drives our content and shared success”.

“We are extremely proud of our victory in the CAR Top 12 Best Buys awards,” says Nic Campbell, General Manager of Mitsubishi Motors South Africa. “It is our first victory in the category known as Large SUV/Crossover, and our Mitsubishi Pajero Sport 2,4 DI-D 4×4 Exceed, was singled out as the favourite.”

All three Mitsubishi Pajero Sport models – the 2.4 MIVEC 4×2 A/T, the 2.4 MIVEC 4×4 A/T and the flagship 2.4 MIVEC 4×4 A/T Exceed – were driven and judged by the CAR team.

“Only vehicles that at least five of the seven-member CAR editorial team have driven are eligible for entry,” says CAR Magazine editor Ray Leathern in the April issue of the magazine which appears on shelves on Friday 12 March.

CAR Top 12 Best Buys 2021 judging criteria

“We factor in the findings of road tests and driving impressions we’ve published up until the April issue,” says Leathern. The members of the CAR Magazine team have tested or driven each of the three models and were most impressed by the flagship 2.4 MIVEC 4×4 A/T Exceed.

Each model in the range is driven by Mitsubishi’s renowned 2.4-litre MIVEC DOHC intercooled turbodiesel engine with Common Rail Direct Injection, where the 4×4 models are coupled to Mitsubishi’s unique Super Select II 4WD System with Electronic Off-road Assistance, Hill Descent Control and a Rear Diff Lock.

All models have a 2 700 kg Towing Mass (Braked), a 30o Approach Angle, 24.2o Departure Angle and 23.1o Ramp Breakover Angle.

“Our Pajero Sport, which was comprehensively upgraded towards the end of 2020, was designed and built to help you escape the everyday and ignite your spirit for adventure, as it has clearly done for the CAR Magazine team,” says Campbell.

“Think of any terrain and Pajero Sport will take you there. At the core of this high-performance machine its powerful 2.4L DOHC MIVEC engine is coupled to an 8-speed automatic transmission, providing the optimum balance of engine power, fuel economy and interior quietness. Together with the Super Select II-4WD system, the engine offers performance that makes driving through the most challenging conditions and rugged terrains a pure joy.”

The Pajero Sport’s Super Select II-4WD system provides four driving modes: 2WD High Range, 4WD and 4WD High and Low Range with locked centre differential, while the selectable Off-Road Mode maximises traction on unsealed surfaces. The Gravel, Mud/Snow, Sand or Rock setting can be selected to suit surface conditions and optimises engine output, transmission settings and braking, for superior traction.

“An easy-to-operate four-wheel-drive selector dial allows switching between 2WD and 4WD on the move at speeds under 100km/h. Hill Descent Control (HDC) can be initiated when you start travelling down a steep gradient more than 5° and can be set at any speed between 2-20km/h. This system adjusts engine output and automatically applies the all-round disc brakes to maintain the set speed, allowing the driver to concentrate on steering.”

Ranges, not individual models

CAR Magazine drove all three Mitsubishi Pajero Sport models in the period leading up to the CAR Top 12 Best Buys awards for 2021.

“Except in the Budget and Performance car segments, we consider an entire range, not one specific model,” says Leathern.

“We measure cars against direct rivals in their class and rule on excellence that considers both size and price.”

All the facets

The team at CAR Magazine also looks at the complete offering.

“We look at the package, personality, performance and, most importantly – in the more value-led COVID-19 world – price,” says Leathern.

The 2.4 MIVEC 4×2 A/T retails for R624 995, the 2.4 MIVEC 4×4 A/T costs R674 995 and the flagship 2.4 MIVEC 4×4 A/T Exceed is available at R704 995.

Campbell emphasises that nothing is more important than safety. “This played a major part in the accolade. The Pajero Sport is built with Mitsubishi Motors’ Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution (RISE) body construction and packed with innovative safety technology, which offer drivers the peace of mind of driving one of the safest cars on and off the road.

“The Pajero Sport has everything from 7 airbags and ISOFIX child seat anchor points, ASTC (Active Stability and Traction Control), ABS (Anti-lock Braking System), EBD (Electronic Brake-force Distribution), BAS (Brake Assist System) and many more.”

This includes a modern interior with a tilt and telescopic adjustable steering column with a multi-function leather steering wheel that includes audio and cruise control, bluetooth with hands-free voice control, smartphone-link display audio (SDA) with CarPlay and Android Auto.

“All of this is connected to an 8″ touch screen colour digital instrument display, automatic air-conditioning with rear passenger controls, electric windows, USB and accessory sockets (dual USB at the back), fully trimmed leather interior and a 150W power plug.”

The Exceed model includes Mitsubishi’s remote-control connectivity and a power tilt and sliding sunroof.

Choosing the winner

“Sometimes many intangibles go into a great car,” says Leathern.

“Yes, the recently updated Pajero Sport nails the brief in terms of affordability and value for money – especially at the top of range where the all-bells-and-whistles Exceed undercuts similar competition by upwards of R100 000, but it’s in less obvious ways the Mitsubishi snatches the award here, too.

“Its recent makeover has imbued it with a sleeker, less polarising aesthetic. As we found in our February 2021 test, it possesses all the high-quality specification and refinement you’d expect, while feeling light on its feet to drive and robust when the going gets tough.

“In our opinion you really can’t go wrong with the Pajero Sport,” concludes Leathern.

Campbell accepted the award, which was presented in the form of a hamper delivered to the Mitsubishi head office in Edenvale, including South Africa’s most-awarded bubbly to celebrate, a bottle of Silverthorn’s Green Man; a hamper from Ginger Lily; and a few cupboard staples from the Chef’s Warehouse Essentials line to add a bit of spice, sourced from independent small suppliers carefully selected by chef Liam Tomlin, who is passionate about the South African food industry.

“We are extremely proud of our Pajero Sport range taking the honours in this highly-acclaimed annual CAR Magazine Top 12 Best Buys Awards and thank the team for appreciating the value of our flagship product,” concludes Campbell.