Why Mitsubishi’s local model line-up continues to win hearts
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JOHANNESBURG - Just as other much-loved brands – ranging from appliances, foodstuff and beverages to clothing lines and footwear – have become household names in South Africa, Mitsubishi has, over more than five decades, entrenched itself in the local culture by providing products that local buyers can identify with and aspire to. In the process it has established a base of customers that appreciate the core values of performance, quality, reliability and durability that the brand represents.
With a number of instantly recognisable nameplates in its stable, Mitsubishi Motors South Africa (MMSA) continues to appeal to buyers in the leisure market who want a vehicle that is suited to both work and play, while setting them apart from the crowd.
Perhaps the most famous Mitsubishi model is the inimitable Pajero. The current generation of this off-road legend was introduced in September 2017 and underwent upgrades in 2019 and 2020, before it was announced that the Pajero would be discontinued.
To pay homage to this off-road icon, MMSA recently announced the availability of the Pajero Legend 100, a special edition celebrating the last 100 units of the iconic SUV in its current form. Buyers also receive a certificate of membership to the Legend 100 Club.
Taking over as the crown jewel in Mitsubishi’s 4x4 SUV range is the 2.4L MIVEC Turbodiesel 8-speed A/T 4x4 Pajero Sport Exceed, introduced in 2020. It is big brother to the 2.4L MIVEC Turbodiesel eight-speed A/T 4x2 and the 2.4L MIVEC Turbodiesel eight-speed A/T 4x4.
“The Pajero Sport is extremely important to Mitsubishi Motors and it ticks all the boxes to become our hero model,” says Nic Campbell, General Manager of MMSA.
The Pajero Sport offers seven seats, making it an attractive all-round package that combines off-road prowess with on-road comfort. All models are powered by Mitsubishi’s 2.4L MIVEC turbodiesel four-cylinder intercooled turbodiesel engine, with 133 kW and 430 Nm of peak torque on tap. The powerplant is mated to an advanced eight-speed automatic transmission.
“In 4x4 guise, the Pajero Sport’s impressive eight-speed automatic transmission, coupled to Mitsubishi Motors’ Super Select II-4WD system, provides the optimum balance between engine power, fuel economy and interior quietness,” says Campbell. “Together the engine and transmission provide the kind of performance that makes driving in, on and through virtually any conditions and terrain an absolute breeze.
“Something that adds huge value to the new Pajero Sport is the fact that many additional features come as standard as opposed to most of its competitors where it attracts an extra cost, making our new SUV even more attractive.”
A win in the Large SUV/Crossover category in the recent CAR Magazine annual Top 12 Best Buys awards for 2021 is proof of just how capable and popular the Pajero Sport is.
The Triton is the epitome of tough in a kid leather glove. It combines Mitsubishi’s tried-and-tested 2.4L MIVEC turbodiesel engine with either a six-speed automatic or a six-speed manual transmission. There are four models in the line-up; two 4x2 models and two 4x4 models. All are double-cab derivatives.
The 4WD models are fitted with Mitsubishi’s latest Super-Select II 4WD, which delivers optimum traction and handling characteristics for any given surface, delivering impressive off-road performance.
“For many South Africans a bakkie is more than simply a practical vehicle; it is also a status symbol. Although they use it for work, they also want to be able to take it out to play and this is where the Triton shines,” Campbell explains. “It’s tough and it looks the part.”
The Triton was instrumental in MMSA’s landmark year in 2019 when its sales climbed while some of its competitors were struggling to keep sales momentum going in the right direction.
In September 2011 MMSA make its first foray into the rapidly expanding compact crossover segment of the local market when it introduced the ASX. This exposed the brand to a younger audience and ten years down the line, the latest generation of this popular model continues to make waves by giving customers access to the SUV lifestyle without having to compromise on performance and reliability.
Says Campbell: “The ASX offers the best balance in design, technology and price and serves as an attractive crossover SUV for our customers, with a spacious interior, a roomy boot and the fuel efficiency of a smaller car.”
The ASX uses the latest version of Mitsubishi’s 2.0L MIVEC aluminium engine, offering 110 kW at 6 000 r/min and 197 Nm of peak torque at 4 200 r/min. Two transmission options are available, the first being a five-speed manual. The other is a six-step CVT for improved performance and fuel efficiency.
“Both models are packed with practical, easy-to-use equipment needed on a daily basis, and can be upgraded with a host of accessories available from any of our dealers nationwide,” says Campbell.
Early in 2019 MMSA pulled another proverbial rabbit out of its SUV hat with the introduction of the highly anticipated Eclipse Cross. Initially only available with a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated powerplant, a 1 499 cc engine was later added to the line-up. In fact, the Eclipse Cross was the first vehicle from Mitsubishi to use this new 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbo engine.
The newly developed MIVEC unit delivers maximum power of 110 kW at 5 500 r/min and peak torque of 250 Nm all the way from 2 000 r/min to 3 500 r/min. This slightly smaller four-cylinder engine, coupled to an automatic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) with Sport Mode, is optimised for fuel efficiency and turbo-charged to put highly responsive performance at your command.
“The Eclipse Cross was a hit from the word go,” says Campbell. Produced at the Mizushima Plant in Japan, it is such a popular design that it is selling up a storm around the globe. Locally, it is attracting lifestyle-orientated buyers eager to benefit from the outstanding value it represents.”
The Mitsubishi Outlander is no stranger to the South African market and excitement is mountain for the introduction of the 2022 model.
“Full pricing and packaging will only be made available once we have details of its arrival in SA,” enthuses Campbell. “Needless to say we are extremely excited about the future design direction the all-new Outlander will give our customers.”
Also on the cards for the not-too-distant future is the Xpander Cross. The Xpander Cross is a family-friendly crossover MPV built with solid SUV styling, comfortable and pleasant drivability, as well as a practical and versatile interior design.
Expectations are that both will go a long way towards reaffirming Mitsubishi’s status as a frontrunner when it comes to identifying customer demands and shaping its new vehicle strategy accordingly.