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Urban Assault Vehicle – Pajero Sport VRX

Pajero Sport VRX review New Zealand

In the 1981 movie Stripes; screen comedy legend Bill Murray plays a down and out cabbie character John Winger that enlists to the US Army. He joins a team of other misfits and go through basic training (if you haven’t seen it before I urge you to download it right now – don’t worry I’ll wait). I’m sure you’d agree that the one of the big things you can’t ignore is their EM-50 Urban Assault Vehicle.

The (fictitious) EM-50 is essentially a motor home that has been fully equipped to go into combat and yet designed to ‘blend’ into urban life. At the flick of a switch it can change from a city driver to an off terrain vehicle with protective roller blinds (and flame throwers) plus has a fully operational navigation suite and a power ramp at the back. The moment I got behind the wheel of the new Mitsubishi Pajero Sport I thought of the EM-50.

There’s no denying that it’s big, particularly rear end big! (almost 4.8M length/1.8M width/ 1.8M tall) I had my hands on the 5 seater so when you ‘power’ open the tailgate (or ramp as I now call it) there was a ton of cargo space (1624 Litres with 2nd seat row down). It has some weight behind it too – 2,710kg’s.

There is a lot of bling around its nose and areas such as mirrors and running boards – helping it blend into urban life. LED Head and Running lights mold smoothly into the grille and nose garnish. The interior is civilian life friendly too. Leather seats (heated fronts), well laid out cabin with durable but obvious quality materials. The centre console is expansive and I liked the design but it did encroach on my knee as I drove. Centre dash is a 7” touch screen that is Apple Car Play and Android Auto compatible. It’s easy to navigate around and has an excellent navigation system. The Pajero Sport is loaded with exterior camera’s that can be accessed on the monitor.  (I liked the nearside kerb view that you can look at while driving – reminds me of the ones you get in planes now).

Under the bonnet is a 2.4L intercooled turbo diesel that feels like a brute. It outputs 135kW’s at 3500 revs and 437Nm’s at 2500 but (despite what the badge says) it’s not sporty – it’s confidence inspiring. It’s the type of engine you want on your side when going into battle, it’s a brawler. When combined with its 8 speed autobox it’s reasonably efficient too – 8l/100k’s.

The Pajero is loaded with driver aids, 4 mode off road traction control, hill start assist, hill descent, smart brake and brake assist, Blind spot, Cruise control, I could go on but suffice to say the EM-50 would be proud.

The combination of 18” alloys (black with machine finish) and 218mm ground clearance transfers to 700mm wading depth and at the turn of the dial on the centre console you are ready to take on whatever terrain you wish to conquer – the equation really is that simple!

The ride itself is a little lollopy. It is comfortable and soft and on a long run I believe you will arrive more refreshed than before you set off. But I think it will take a little getting used to before you start throwing it into any corners. Don’t get me wrong, it’s more than capable I just think you’ll need to spend some time behind the wheel. In saying that, start getting into the uneven terrain and you won’t notice the bumps, the suspension is very absorbing.

The Pajero Sport really is the modern version of the Urban Assault Vehicle. It is bling enough to move around the city and at the turn of the dial will hit the rough stuff. It’s more than capable to fill with the troops (either family or work) and has plenty of infotainment options to keep everyone entertained.

I just need to find an aftermarket shop to fit the flamethrower and wheel protection blinds!

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