The fourth generation Pajero was first introduced in 2006 at the Paris Motor Show, displaying a modified exterior design. More chiseled lines and polished curves gave the new Pajero an authoritative, military officer-posture that commanded not just respect but aesthetic appreciation.
The same 3.2-liter diesel 4M41 engine from the third generation model can be found under the hood. And why not? It's an able engine that churns out 165-horsepower and 374 Newton-Meters of torque mated to an evenly geared 5-speed INVECS II automatic transmission. Its Sportronic Mode is based off Porsche's Tiptronic technology.
Acceleration is smooth with a superb pull while gears shift easily. The average fuel consumption at mixed driving conditions in the city is 7.8km per liter (based on vehicle fuel meter). Engine sound is well dampened considering the diesel engine.
The two-tonne SUV has a solid brake performance with a pedal that gives just the right amount of feel. The Super Select 4WD II system allows the driver to shift from 2-wheel to 4-wheel drive modes on the fly.
For fully charged drives, the double wishbone front suspension setup and multi-link rears strike a good balance of comfort and firm handling, the steering feel being slight understeer to neutral. Body roll on hard cornering is subtle.
The elegant, ergonomically designed interior makes this machine all the more fine. The black and beige two-tone color scheme looks tasteful with the wood trims and aluminum accents. This stylish finishing gives the impression that Pajero's duties have been reassigned to more civilized activities as opposed to its off-road inclined predecessors.
Legroom is spacious with ample seating capacity for a family of seven (or eight skinny people). The climate control system is automatic and easy to operate, providing adequate cooling for Manila's hot weather.
Extra features make this macho vehicle sweet, such as heated seats and 12-speaker Rockford 6 CD audio system with RCA jack AUX input and USB port with iPod connectivity. For a factory installed audio system, audio quality is good; the subwoofer adds a kick of deep bass. Retractable side mirrors can be activated from the alarm remote when the lock button is pressed three times.
While the new Pajero sounds modern and well equipped so far, I found it inconvenient that there are no auto-up and down switches aside from the driver-side power window. It is also missing speed sensing doorlocks, memory for driving lamp and foglamp switch, as well as the hill-start and hill-descent assist system.
The Pajero stepped into the limelight once again when Executive Order 877-A took effect - a policy lowering the tariff rates on imported vehicles from Japan with 3000cc and above displacement. The lowered price puts this vehicle - tagged at Php2.75 million - at a strategic position between pick-up-based SUVs and more expensive, premium models.
Despite the minor shortcomings, the Pajero is a fine buy for a muscular vehicle with an impressive lineage below P3 million. The powerful performance, comfortable ride and plentiful seating/loading capacity makes it a practical choice for every man who appreciates style, supremacy and a little adventure on the weekends.