Spare a thought for those who score the job of coming up with a car’s name.
In a global market, a name chosen for its noble connotations could well have a less appealing meaning in some corner of the world.
The Mitsubishi Pajero, first launched almost 32 years ago, was named after a cat native to a region of southern Argentina. But in Spanish it’s a vulgar word, meaning something which sounds like banker. Awkward.
Unsurprisingly, the vehicle is known as the Montero (mountain hunter) in Spain, the Americas and India.
Actually, I know a woman who has a short-wheelbase (SWB) Pajero as her second vehicle, with the words “4Ponta” on the number plate, although she seems quite happy to get around in it on tar a lot of the time, too.
And little wonder. The SWB may be as rugged as they come but it’s also supremely comfortable, easy to drive and packed with high-end spec, which sets it apart from the Jeep Wrangler and Land Rover Defender, both also “pukka” SWB 4x4s, but very pared down in terms of spec, in comparison.
Its proportions are decidedly compact compared with most of the other 4x4 beasts which converge on the soft sands of Mozambique’s Ponta do Ouro, but its pedigree is massive.
In fact, the Pajero lays claim to being the most successful vehicle in the Dakar Rally’s history, with no fewer than 12 wins.
A true legend, as SUVs go, and that’s the tag the special-edition 2014 two-door SWB Pajero has: Legend, following in the tracks of the long-wheelbase Pajero Legend which was launched last year.
At R580 000 (sjoe!) it’s R30 000 more expensive than the standard model, but Mitsubishi says the extra kit on it is worth about R80 000 more, if added separately.
It’s mostly serious adventure stuff: offroad tyres with a pressure monitoring system – feeding info to an odd little gauge perched on the dash – and an air compressor built into the engine compartment, dual batteries, bash plates under the engine, sump and gearbox; a nudge bar, two great big high-intensity discharge spotlights, heavy-duty seat covers – stashed in a duffel bag – and a rather handsome square roof rack, which you’d need fairly often as there’s not of load space behind those back seats.
In typical have-it-all Pajero style, those spotlights have automatic leveling, preventing the vehicle from dazzling other drivers on the road, and the leather seats not only have those seat covers for serious bundu bashing, but have two heat settings, and the driver’s one is powered in five directions.
Also new is a rear-view parking camera – which projects the image onto a corner of the cabin’s rear view mirror – privacy glass, colour-coded door handles, and a USB port.
The Legend has the standard 140kW/441Nm, 3.2 litre turbodiesel engine, teamed with a five-speed auto transmission, and you can switch from 2WD to all-wheel-drive while on the move.
For the really tricky stuff – mostly mud and sand in the South African context – the centre diff can be locked in either AWD high or low range, splitting the power 50:50 between front and rear axles.
On the downside, it’s a little on the thirsty side – fuel consumption is 11 to 12 litres per 100 kays.
I think it’s the total package, this chunky, high riding, unpretentious, go anywhere SUV – tough and capable but easy to drive, and agile too. But it would be a waste to invest that sort of money in the likes of the Legend if you’re not going to do any serious offroading.
Pavements don’t count. -Star Motoring
Engine: 4-cyl, 3.2-litre turbodiesel
Gearbox: 5-speed automatic
Power: 140kW @ 3800rpm
Torque: 441Nm @ 2000rpm
Consumption (tested): 11.5 l/100km
Price: R579 900
Warranty: 3-year/100 000km
Maintenance plan: 5-year/100 000km