Jude Morte / Jude Morte | October 02, 2008 00:00
Fortuner hunterFor nearly half a decade, Mitsubishi saw midsize SUVs from different marques come and go, only to find out that the sole company with more combined total unit sales that the triple diamond star (read; the Japanese automaker with a sombrero logo) lorded it over in the aforementioned segment. Then again, with a tagline of "The World Is Mine," plus performance, utility, features and looks to match, who wouldn't want to get one?
The folks from Cainta then decided that they have been in the shadows of the midsize SUV segment for far too long, and recently released the one brand capable of taking down Toyota's midsize SUV juggernaut - the newest iteration of the Mitsubishi Montero Sport.
The new model grew significantly over its predecessor, as it now measures 4,695 mm in length, 1,815 mm in width, 1,840 mm tall, with a 2,800 mm wheelbase. Measurements of the previous model are 4,620 mm in length x 1,775 mm in width x 1,730 mm in height, with a 2,725 mm wheelbase. The dimensional increase leads to a vast interior space that provides a sense of comfort, purpose and safety. This time, the Montero Sport has a three-row, seven-passenger setup that can be varied to handle complex cargo dilemmas.
The Montero Sport's exterior is perfect for people looking for an SUV with a muscular stance and at the same time having a contemporary styling befitting an urbanized off-roader. Fender flares on the wheels arches plus bulging curves on the rear quarter panel widens its stance. A pair of highly specialized halogen projector headlamps provide superior visibility, with additional lighting provided by the front foglamps mounted on the bumper. The large doors, in combination with the tubular design stepboards, are designed in a way to make getting in and out of the Montero Sport effortless. Load bearing roof rails come standard and add to the SUV's appeal. At the rear, a tailgate with large glass area and Euro-inspired tail lamps adds to the unique Mitsubishi visual identity.
Also getting an all-new treatment is the interior. The Montero Sport GLS SE gets a black and light grey dashboard accented by silver and woodgrain trims. The inner door trims with bottle holders also get the same accents. Behind the thick-rimmed three-spoke steering wheel is the instrument cluster with easy to read gauges that illuminates to an amber hue during night time driving. While at the center of the dashboard, a multi-information LCD meter provides detailed information on heading, altitude, barometer, fuel consumption, range, date, and time. Adding luxury to the Montero Sport is the genuine cowhide leather dyed to a light grey color that covers all of the seating surfaces. Audio entertainment is provided by the Mitsubishi Motors Audio Design single in-dash CD/MP3/WMA player by JVC with six speakers (four speakers for the GLS variant). This audio system can accommodate hands free mobile phone operation thanks to its Bluetooth pairing function. MP3 devices can also be connected via the audio systems USB, auxiliary input ports or also by Bluetooth pairing. Other standard equipment for the GLS SE includes an auto climate system with a separate rear aircon control, electrically adjustable driver's seat, power side mirrors with one-touch fold function, key cylinder illumination, two special keys with built in electronic immobilizer, keyless entry with alarm, and convenience sockets. However, the Montero Sport GLS variant will be equipped with a manual controlled dual aircon system and black water resistant fabric seats.
Making the Montero Sport move is a turbocharged/intercooled DOHC 16-valve 3.2 liter Common Rail Direct Injection Diesel, putting out 163 PS and 35.0 kg-m of torque. Mated to the engine is an INVECS-II four-speed automatic transmission (with Sportronic mode). And for those who would like to spend their Montero Sport vehicles on dirt for long periods, a Super Select 4WD system (found on the current Pajero) has a synchronized free-wheel front differential that lets the driver switch from 2WD to high-range 4WD even at speeds up to 100 km/h – and back at any speed with just a movement of the lever. The high-range 2WD mode is ideal for economical and quiet driving while the high range 4WD is more suited for drivers who need the extra confidence in driving through rain and other slippery surfaces. When maximum traction is needed such as climbing steep slopes with loose surfaces, it is ideal to use the low-range 4WD. Additional assurance that power will be transmitted as positive traction is the job of the hybrid limited slip rear differential and this is standard only on the Montero Sport GLS SE variant.
Extensive research and development was invested in making sure that the Montero Sport has superior riding comfort than the competition. The excellent riding comfort of the Montero Sport is made possible by its front double wishbones with coil springs, and a rear three-link coil suspension with a long trailing arm design. Both ends of the Montero Sport are fitted with stabilizer bars to reduce body roll during cornering. A power assisted rack and pinion steering system provides good road feel, better response, and a class-leading turning radius of 5.6 meters.
Not to be overlooked are the Montero Sport's safety features. Stopping power is achieved by 16-inch ventilated front disc brakes with ABS and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD). Mitsubishi's proprietary Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution (RISE) body and frame system greatly enhances the survivability of its occupants, incorporating front and rear crumple zones with reinforced beams to absorb collision force and direct it away from the vehicle's interior. Toss in dual-stage front SRS Airbags and seat belt pre-tensioners that react instantaneously in the event of a frontal collision, and these features greatly reduce the chance of occupants experiencing massive blunt force trauma. The second row is equipped with two three-point seatbelts (plus a center two-point lap belt), while third row riders get three-point seatbelts as well.
The Montero Sport is available in five colors - Gemstone Grey Mica, Cool Silver, Sedona Red, Savanna White, and Pyrenese Black. The all new Montero Sport 3.2 GLS SE retails for P1.68 million, and the GLS model sells for P1.5 million, and Mitsubishi Motors Philippines will back it up with a three-year or 100,000 kilometer warranty.
Obviously, the new Mitsubishi Montero Sport was created for a single purpose – to take the Toyota Fortuner (and the rest of the midsize SUV segment) down. And has the features and performance to back up the hype.