Mitsubishi will launch the Pajero Sport Automatic in India, on the 15th of November, 2014. Along with the automatic gearbox option, the Pajero Sport SUV will receive a cosmetic makeover too. The facelifted model with the automatic gearbox option will be pitted against market leader, the Toyota Fortuner. Notably, Toyota plans to launch two new variants of the Fortuner in the coming weeks. The Fortuner’s new variants will include a a cut price model with a rear wheel drive layout and a smaller, 2.5 liter turbo diesel engine, and a top-end 4X4 Automatic model with the 3.0 liter turbo diesel engine. The new variants are aimed at helping the Fortuner further improve its market share in India.
Coming to the facelifted Pajero Sport Automatic, the SUV will be sold with a rear wheel drive option instead of a full fledged, shift-on-the-fly four wheel drive system in order to keep costs low. Mitsubishi will continue to offer a 5 speed manual transmission equipped 4X4 variant of the Pajero Sport in India, which is expected to sit above the automatic gearbox equipped model. Like the automatic variant, the manual variant of the Pajero Sport will also receive a mid life makeover, in keeping with the fact that the SUV is more than 2 years old in the Indian car market. For the record, the Pajero Sport made landfall in India on the 12th of March, 2012, and ever since has been Mitsubishi’s best selling vehicle here.
The facelift of the Pajero Sport will involve mild cosmetic revisions. A refreshed front grille with a smattering of chrome, a re-profiled front bumper and new fog lamp surrounds are the three stylistic changes that the facelifted Pajero Sport will receive. Both the manual and automatic variants of the Pajero Sport will continue using the 2.5 liter-4 cylinder turbo diesel engine that makes 177 Bhp-400 Nm. Significantly more torquey than the 3 liter D-4D diesel motor of the Fortuner, the 2.5 liter turbo diesel mill on the Pajero Sport is known for its enthusiasm across the rev band. The ride, handling and braking package of the Pajero Sport outshines that of the Fortuner.
However, with just 35 dealerships and after service centers across the country, Mitsubishi cannot hold a candle to Toyota’s 250+ dealerships and service centers that are spread more widely across the length and breath of India. It is this strength of Toyota that is allowing the Fortuner to score a clear sales lead over Mitsubishi’s Pajero Sport, which is an equally accomplished if not better SUV all-around. With the launch of the automatic gearbox equipped Pajero Sport at a sharp price point, Mitsubishi will be hoping to boost the SUV’s sales by over 50 %. The Pajero Sport is the only vehicle that Mitsubishi currently sells in India. The Japanese automaker assembles the Pajero Sport through the CKD kit route at Tiruvallur, Chennai.