Performance Meets Safety in Mitsubishi Pajero Sport
Performance Meets Safety in Mitsubishi Pajero Sport
BANGKOK 24 DEC 2018
The word ‘performance’ reminds us images of men in racing overalls driving bespoke vehicles racing to the all-important win. Keen motorsports enthusiasts will also remember names like Hiroshi Masuoka, Kenjiro Shinozuka, Tommi Makinen, the late Richard Burns, and two famous Thai drivers, Pornsawan Siriwattanakul and Tull Suwannarat, former cross-country champions in T2 category, to name a few. These drivers have used four-wheel-drive Mitsubishis over the roughest deserts and toughest forests to beat the odds and achieve victories.
But, what does motorsports have to do with a modern-day four-wheel-drive SUV like the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport? The fact is, it has plenty to do with it, especially in the areas of performance and safety.
Performance, matched with safety and durability, is what win races. No other branches of motorsports test a vehicle’s performance, efficiency, safety, strength and durability like rallying. Innovations generated through research-and-development and technologies that are tested in racing vehicles are subsequently engineered for road-going vehicles like the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport.
The beginning of Mitsubishi Motors Performance
Mitsubishi Motors’ leadership in four-wheel-drive technology, traction systems and off-road performance is not new. The root of Mitsubishi Pajero Sport’s performance and safety date back to more than 80 years.
It all started in 1934 when the Mitsubishi PX33 prototype was developed. A passenger car originally developed for use by the military, it had had to be tough, versatile and be able to traverse over all sorts of terrains. Therefore, the PX33 became the first Japanese sedan with full-time four-wheel-drive. Some versions of this prototype were also fitted with Japan’s first direct-injection diesel engine, coded 445AD. However, the entire PX33 project was halted three years later.
The technology was kept under wraps for many decades before the company, now known as Mitsubishi Motors Corporation, began to utilize it for the development of a new product line. The pioneering four-wheel-drive technology re-emerged at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1973, this time under an open-top vehicle known as the Mitsubishi Pajero. And a legend is born. A second prototype was shown in 1978, and production started in 1982.
Mitsubishi Pajero proved to be a success on the roads and off it. Its overall performance was so outstanding that it was soon entered into professional competition and races. In its first year of participation in the world’s toughest cross-country desert rally, the lightly-modified Mitsubishi Pajero finished the 10,000-kilometer race 11th overall, out of more than 100 participants.
Encouraged, Mitsubishi Motors toughened up the Mitsubishi Pajero for safety and durability and improved its overall performance. The results came quickly. In only its third outing, the Mitsubishi Pajero took overall victory in the 1985 race.
Mitsubishi Motors spent the next 25 years in the sport, garnering a total of 12 overall wins out of 26 entries (seven of the wins were consecutive victories from 2001 – 2007). These statistics earned the Mitsubishi Pajero the nickname ‘King of the Desert’ and more importantly, Guinness World Records recognized the achievement as the ‘Most Dakar Rally Wins by a Manufacturer’.
Winning performance on and off the road
One of the strongest qualities contributing to the Pajero’s mighty performance is its four-wheel-drive system. Technical data and results from races are transferred to Mitsubishi Motors road-going vehicles so customers benefit from the advanced technologies. However, in a world of luxury, finesse and comfort, one cannot expect a vehicle like the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport to have a race-spec four-wheel-drive drivetrain as it will be too unrefined, rough and not suited for daily use.
Instead, Mitsubishi Motors used computer and electronic technology to refine performance systems for everyday use. Additionally, the automaker has also programmed the drivetrain to make it more relevant for everyday use, whether on urban roads, highways or jungle tracks.
Known as the Super Select 4WD-II drivetrain, this is like a combination of full-time 4WD and part-time 4WD. It now uses an electric actuator to facilitate switching between drive modes instead of employing manual control. The system features four drive modes:
- 2H (2WD High-Range) – Rear-Wheel Drive reduces unnecessary mechanical friction on dry tarmac to enable the best possible fuel economy.
- 4H (4WD High-Range) – Four-Wheel-Drive for a range of slippery surfaces. Power is split 40-60 (front-rear). On a normal road, power will be split 50-50. The Torque-Sensitive Type system will increase performance and safety with Full-Time All Wheel Control.
- 4HLc (4WD High-Range with Locked Transfer) the Center Differential Locked system provides better drive on snow-covered and highly slippery roads, sand and other tough surfaces. It distributes power to all four wheels equally.
- 4LLc (4WD Low-Range with Locked Transfer) uses low gears and locks the center differential for use when more drive torque is required to negotiate craggy rock fields or muddy terrain.
Additionally, the Super Select 4WD-II also comes with Off-Road Modes that enhances traction via various setting in off-road modes. They include Gravel, Mud/Snow, Sand or Rock settings. Each setting results in different engine output and braking to optimize performance and traction. The selected mode will be displayed on the multi-information display. The final weapon in its four-wheel-drive armory is the Rear Differential Lock that works in conjunction with the Center Differential Lock – a feature not many SUVs have. When engaged, the system will lock the rear differential, resulting in a consistent 50-50 power distribution to the rear wheels. This is an important feature in really tough off-road conditions.
To ensure there is enough power, the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport uses the 4N15 engine that features a lighter turbo for faster response. As a result, acceleration and power is always available on demand, whether it is in start-stop city traffic or on highways and even off-road. This also results in better fuel economy and reduced noise, vibration and harshness (NVH).
The inline 4-cylinder 2.4L MIVEC VG Turbo Diesel with aluminum block engine produces 181 ps at 3,500 rpm and 430 Nm at 2,500 rpm. It has the highest specific output of 74 ps/L and 176 Nm/L in its class – higher outputs per liter of capacity.
Power from the 4N15 is sent primarily to the rear wheels via an Eight-Speed Automatic Transmission. The presence of more ratios means the engine’s power is used more effectively for smoother acceleration and lower fuel consumption. It also features INC (Idling Neutral Control) which reduces internal energy losses caused by torque converter drag when the vehicle is stationary with the gear selector in ‘D’, improving fuel consumption.
The Mitsubishi Pajero Sport also has a range of safety features to match its performance. Compared to the race Pajero, these are more finely-tuned systems that work in the background without intruding into the overall driving experience. The active safety technologies include:
- Forward Collision Mitigation System (FCM) – uses a millimeter wave radar gun to monitor the vehicle ahead and detect an impact. The system will attempt to avoid, or mitigate the extent of impact damage, by warning the driver and applying the vehicle’s brakes.
- Ultrasonic Misacceleration Mitigation System (UMMS) – avoid unintended acceleration while stationary or at speeds of up to 10 km/h. Ultrasonic sensors detect obstructions in front or behind the vehicle, and will retard engine power with an audible warning if the system detects sudden or hard acceleration by the driver while there are obstacles in the vehicle’s path.
- Blind Spot Warning (BSW) – bumper-mounted ultrasonic sensors detect vehicles at and around the rear quarters. An indicator will appear on the door mirror on the respective side on which an obstructing vehicle is detected.
- Multi Around Monitor has four cameras – one on each side and another one on the front and rear of the vehicle to give the driver a bird’s eye view of any obstacles around the vehicle. The area behind the vehicle is displayed, along with active guidelines to aid parking.
- Active Stability and Traction Control operates to stabilize the vehicle by regulating engine output and braking when it senses instability or one or more wheels are slipping sideways. It also restricts wheel spins to provide optimum drive and traction.
- Hill Start Assist System (HSA) prevents the vehicle from moving backward on an incline. It applies the brakes for two seconds after the driver moves the foot from the brake to the accelerator pedal.
- Hill Descent Control (HDC) automatically applies the brakes to maintain speed of descent between 2 – 20 km/h. This gives the driver maximum traction and steering capability and allows the driver to concentrate on steering the vehicle down a slope, especially in low-grip conditions.
For passive safety, there are seven airbags including front and side airbags for the driver and passenger, driver’s knee airbag, and curtain airbags up to third-row seats. To protect its occupants, and similar to a roll-cage used in Mitsubishi Motors’ racing vehicles (albeit completely hidden) is the Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution (RISE) body system. It uses strong, high-tensile steel to create energy-absorbing elements against impact from all directions.
Unlike its racing brethren with a sole focus on performance and safety, the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport will be driven by a completely different group of drivers who will also require driving conveniences and luxury.
To ensure the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport has all the qualities of a favorite SUV, it comes with radar-guided Adaptive Cruise Control system that maintains a preset distance to the vehicle in front. If the vehicle in front slows down or stops, ACC will follow, maintaining a safe distance. There is also the Electronic Time and Alarm Control System (ETACS) – a system that controls all electrical components in the vehicle, including the speed-sensing front wipers, power window timer, automatic headlamps, assisted signals for lane changes, low light warning, emergency stop signal, speed-sensing automatic door locks, coming home and welcome lights, vehicle immobilizer and keyless operation system.
On the luxury front, the interior of the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport comes with console side garnish soft pad, a high contrast combination meter and a Nanoe air purifier, a 220V AC power supply, smartphone pocket for driver and passenger, electronic parking brake, improved air outlet vents for the second and third row seats, keyless operation and engine start and the most spacious cargo space in its category.
Other luxuries include dual-zone climate control, tilt-and-reach adjustable steering wheel, eight-way power-adjustable front seats for driver and passenger, roof-mounted monitor for rear passengers, auto-dimming rearview mirrors and rear climate control. Ergonomics has also been updated with the T-Shaped High Console that puts all controls within easy reach of the driver including the seven-inch touchscreen entertainment and navigation console. The multi-function steering wheel houses controls for adaptive cruise control, paddle shift for manual control of gear changes and audio controls.
All the performance, safety and technology are presented using Mitsubishi Motors’ latest design language, known as ‘Dynamic Shield’. The ‘form follows function’ ethos has resulted in a design that looks big, tough and rugged while combining protection, performance and aesthetics in a functional front-end.
The Mitsubishi Pajero Sport is one of the perfect examples of how winning races can help develop winning products. By combining an adventurous spirit with progressive elements that challenge design and technological frontiers, the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport’s bold design and superior performance is developed to inspire and motivate customers to keep on driving towards lifelong progress. This is in line with the automaker’s global brand strategy ‘Drive your Ambition’.