Earlier this year, Mitsubishi homologated an automatic variant of the Pajro Sport SUV at the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI). While the launch was slated for the second half of 2014, a report on Autocar claims that the Pajero Sport Automatic will be launched in August, with deliveries to commence from September. Amidst the turmoil that Hindustan Motors – Mitsubishi’s joint venture partner in India – is going through, this announcement will come as a relief to many Pajero Sport SUV owners, as Mitsubishi seems serious about hanging around in the Indian car market. Notably, the Pajero Sport SUV is Mitsubishi’s only offering in India.
The Pajero Sport Automatic will be assembled at Hindustan Motors’ Tiruvallur factory, off Chennai, by means of completely knocked down (CKD) kits that are imported from Thailand. The SUV’s Automatic variant will also address a long standing gap that the SUV’s portfolio has featured due to the absence of an automatic gearbox, a feature that many buyers shopping for SUVs priced over 20 lakh rupees insist on. The Pajero Sport Automatic will retain its 2.5 liter-4 cylinder turbo diesel engine that outputs 178 Bhp of peak power and 400 Nm peak torque. A shift-on-the-fly 4 wheel drive system will be standard fare on the SUV, along with a low ratio for difficult road conditions.
The Pajero Sport Automatic is likely to be priced about a lakh rupees higher than the manual gearbox equipped version, which sells at 23.5 lakh rupees. With the 5 speed automatic gearbox in tow, the Pajero Sport is likely to gain volumes and this will present good cheer to Mitsubishi dealers, who were enervated by having to sell a single product, that too with only a manual gearbox option when the segment clearly demands an automatic. The Pajero Sport rides and handles better than India’s best selling luxury SUV, the Toyota Fortuner, and has he potential to be a sales champion given the bog brand value of the Pajero badge. However, the former is let down massively by the poor dealership reach of Mitsubishi in India.