In August of 2008, Mitsubishi stunned the market with the World Debut of the new Montero Sport/Pajero Sport at the Moscow International Auto Salon as its official answer to the highly competitive pickup-based midsize SUV segment. In the local market, it competes against the Ford Everest, Isuzu Alterra and previous market leader Toyota Fortuner.
The basic shape of the Montero Sport is a fusion of its predecessor and the modern lines infused from the Triton/Strada pick-up platform. The result is a sharp front-end, which reflects the three-diamond Mitsubishi badge and flowing lines resulting in a sleek passenger cabin extending to the rear end.
The interior design is both modern minimalist and utilitarian; basic controls are ergonomically placed and easy to access while featuring holders for almost every moving bit and piece. The multi-information LCD meter provides detailed information on heading, altitude, barometer, fuel consumption, range, date, and time. In-car entertainment is provided by a JVC MP3/WMA/CD player with auxiliary and USB inputs and integrated Bluetooth for handsfree mobile phone connection.
The second row seats have recessed slots that hold belt fasteners for a clutter free look while the belts themselves have clips to hold them in place. The third row seats can fit two average size Asian adults and the adjustable headrests are certainly a welcome feature as they prevent one's head from hitting the rear glass while trying to sit in a comfortable position. The third row can also be folded flat when not in use to accommodate more storage. For even more luggage space, the second row can be folded to accommodate longer items. There are also strategically placed hooks for securing loose cargo with a net or ropes.
Dual Stage front SRS Airbags come standard for active safety as well as anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution. The Montero Sport also benefits from Mitsubishi's RISE safety engineering which stands for Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution body-and-frame system which greatly enhances the survivability of its occupants in the event of a crash. However, I leave the testing of these safety features to the professionals. In the vehicle security department, a standard alarm system with immobilizer and keyless entry is also standard.
The new generation CRDi 4D56 2.5-liter DOHC 16-valve turbocharged and intercooled engine powers the GLS 4x4 M/T. We gave the engine a bit of a workout going through a series of mountain roads while trying to overtake some slower moving vehicles. The engine is fine for daily city driving and the occasional trip out of town, but if you require a lot of climbing and go outdoors quite often, you might be better off with a little more power from the 3.2-liter GLS 4x4 variant, giving out 27 PS of extra power.
In terms of handling, it performed quite well under normal speeds in the winding uphills and downhill roads where we drove the car on, but there is a touch of body roll at higher speeds due to the softer suspension setup, which very much considers ride comfort. Off the road, the standard highway tires coupled with the Super Select II 4-wheel drive system can get out of the minor jams you might occasionally encounter. In normal Philippine driving conditions (read: bad roads with potholes) it absorbed road bumps with ease while providing a comfortable ride. Overall, the Montero Sport features the most balanced suspension setup in its class offering a good compromise between handling and comfort.
The Montero Sport GLS 4x4 manual transmission is Mitsubishi's simple answer to Modern Urban Utility. It's not something extraordinary, nor does it offer a hair-raising experience, it's well equipped, it works, and it comes with an attractive price tag at Php1.47-million.