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Mitsubishi Montero Sport: Taking over the top spot

By Ghaith Madadha - Jan 03,2022 - Last updated at Jan 03,2022

Photos courtesy of Mitsubishi

Known as the Pajero Sport in some markets, the Mitsubishi Montero Sport  —  as it is known in the Middle East and elsewhere  —  is a tough and capable mid-size SUV, that effectively supplants “our” more familiar Pajero as the Japanese manufacturer’s flagship SUV. With rumours of a larger, more luxurious upcoming Nissan Patrol-based successor largely dispelled for now, since long-running Pajero’s discontinuation last year, the Montero Sport is expected to continue as Mitsubishi’s largest SUV for the foreseeable future, but whether it proves as popular locally and regionally, remains to be seen.

Well-equipped, spacious, comfortable and thoroughly effective off-road, the Montero Sport is only just smaller than the late great Pajero and for most intents and purposes, capably covers similar ground. And while it may share body-on-frame construction and a front-engine, rear-drive architectural orientation, the Montero Sport is not in fact a derivative of the departed Pajero. Rather, it is built on a shortened and modified platform shared with Mitsubishi’s similarly popular L200 pick-up truck, and competes with similarly rugged truck-based SUVs like the Nissan Xterra, Toyota Fortuner and Ford Everest, where available.

 

Design departure

Similar in many ways, the Montero Sport’s design, however, radically differs from the Pajero’s upright, squared-off and generous glasshouse design and more classically proportioned stance. Instead, the Montero Sport reflects Mitsubishi’s modern sharp, wedged and expressively surfaced design language. Most closely resembling its L200 donor, the Montero Sport features a thick side crease and muscular wheel-arches. Rugged and jutting in design and demeanour, the shorter Montero Sport features a longer wheelbase and more pronounced bonnet and front overhang, but nevertheless achieves a similar sense of visual rear “weight” and forward momentum.

Imposing in it presence with its high bonnet line, slim squinting headlight and huge deep-set running lights, the Montero Sport’ rising waistline, slim, heavily chromed three-slat grille and large, lower intake framed by C-shaped chrome accents, all emphasise both its height and breadth. At the rear, a descending roofline, tapered tailgate and tall slim lights draw attention to the vertical plane. Positioned longitudinally under its tall clamshell bonnet, the Montero Sport is meanwhile powered by a naturally-aspirated 3-litre V6 engine and smooth-shifting 8-speed automatic gearbox combo for Middle East markets.

Consistently capable

Producing 215BHP at 6,000rpm and 210lb/ft torque at 4,000rpm, the Montero Sport gains an additional three gears over the Pajero, with the broader ratio range serving to well-leverage its output for performance, refinement and efficiency. Estimated to cross the 0-100km/h acceleration benchmark in approximately 10-seconds, the near two-tonne Montero Sport is meanwhile capable of achieving a 182km/h top speed. Progressive in delivery and smooth in operation, the Montero Sport moves with reasonably brisk confidence in town and the open road, but its high cabin refinement and insulation levels perhaps blunt performance perceptions.

Most efficient when driving the rear wheels in normal conditions, the Montero Sport is a confident performer that delivers consistently. If not outright fast, it, however, never feels lacking, whether setting off from standstill, overtaking in mid-range or reaching for its rev limit. Capable of engaging while on the move, the Montero Sport’s 4H driving mode delivers improved road-holding and traction for both on-road and off-road conditions. Driving with a 60 per cent rear bias, 4H mode provides improved grip, but still allows much of the balanced driving feel and agility of a rear-driver.

 

Effortlessly effective

An effective off-roader that proved effortless through desert dunes in regular four-wheel-drive mode during test drive, the Montero Sport features a locking centre differential when additional traction is needed, and low gear ratios for high power driving at a crawling pace when needed for even more demanding circumstances. Sitting high with 218mm ground clearance, the Montero Sport delivers generous 600mm water fording ability, and 30° approach, 23.1° ramp and 24.2° departure angles. Meanwhile, a drive mode selector optimises wheel slip, transmission, braking and engine torque for various surfaces and conditions. 

Built on a rugged truck-derived body-on-frame and rear live-axle platform, the Montero Sport is a more sophisticated ride that trades its L200 relation’s commercial vehicle style rear leaf spring suspension for coil springs, and benefits from a single body unit for enhanced rigidity, rather than a separate pick-up cab and bed set-up. As a result, it is a more comfortable and settled ride with improved handling. Refined on road, it also well insulates occupants from bumps, lumps and imperfections with its forgiving suspension and tyres, and is smooth, relaxed and stable on motorways.

Committed comfort

A comfortable and high riding SUV, the Montero Sport turns tidily in and leans slightly through corners, but is, nevertheless, committed and reassuring throughout. Tidily turning in, if not outright sporty, the Montero Sport’s weight distribution provides for balance through corners. Meanwhile, its steering is accurate but light and set-up for comfort rather than edgy feel and feedback. A spacious seven seat SUV with plenty of passenger and luggage space, the Montero Sport’s high-set bonnet can, however, make it feel like an even bigger and wider vehicle when manoeuvring in tight confines.

That said, and despite the high bonnet, the Montero Sport is more manoeuvrable than it feels, with a comparatively narrow body and tight 11.2-metre turning circle, while parking sensors and around view camera provide additional driver confidence in such circumstances. Pleasant, user-friendly and well-appointed with good quality materials, the Montero Sport is a well-equipped vehicle with plenty of modcon, infotainment and safety features, including a two sensor automatic tailgate, seven airbags and driver assistance systems such as rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, lane change assistance and a forward collision mitigation system.

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

Engine: 3-litre, in-line V6-cylinders 

Bore x stroke: 87.6 x 82.9mm

Compression ratio: 9.5:1

Valve-train: 24-valve, variable valve timing, SOHC

Gearbox: 8-speed automatic, four-wheel-drive

Drive-train: Locking centre differential, low gear transfer case

Power, BHP (PS) [kW]: 215 (218) [160] @6,000rpm

Specific power: 71.7BHP/litre

Power-to-weight: 108BHP/tonne

Torque, lb/ft (Nm): 210 (285) @4,000rpm

Specific torque: 95Nm/litre

Torque-to-weight: 143.5Nm/tonne

0-100km/h: under 10-seconds (estimate)

Top speed: 182km/h

Fuel capacity: 70-litres

Wheelbase: 2,800mm

Track, F/R: 1,520/1,515mm

Overhangs, F/R: 900/1,125mm

Ground clearance: 218mm

Wading depth: 700mm

Approach/ramp/departure angles: 30°/23.1°/24.2°

Tilt angle: 45 per cent

Kerb weight: 1,985kg

Gross vehicle weight: 2,670kg

Seating capacity: 7

Steering: Power assisted rack and pinion

Turning radius: 11.2-metres

Suspension, F/R: Double wishbone/3-link, coil springs, anti-roll bars

Brakes, F/R: Ventilated discs 320mm/ventilated discs

Brake callipers, F/R: 2-piston/1-piston

Tyres: 265/60R18

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