Mitsubishi Pajero is in fact a Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) developed and sold by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation since 1982. The vehicle is named after Leopardus pajeros, the Pampas Cat which is native to the Patagonia plateau region of southern Argentina. The term is however used for ‘wanker’ in Spanish, so several different names have been employed in export markets. For instance, it is sold as Mitsubishi Montero (mountain warrior) in Spain, India and Americas (excluding Brazil), and in the United Kingdom, it is sold as Mitsubishi Shogun.
These names including Pajero, Montero and Shogun gained a reasonable amount of fame in different regions as a result of which these were used for certain other mechanically unrelated models like Pajero Mini Kei car, the Pajero Junior and Pajero iO/Pinin mini SUVs, and the Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero/Shogun Sport.
Mitsubishi revealed the first prototype version of Pajero in November 1973 at the Tokyo Motor Show followed by prototype II in 1978. The idea was to design a vehicle which was more than just a sport utility vehicle.
The first Pajero was introduced by Mitsubishi in January 1983 at the Paris Dakar Rally. Just after three attempts, the Pajero was able to achieve the first place in 1985 and since then Pajero is one of the most successful vehicles in the Dakar Rally. Its successful run in the Rally helped to gain some off-road reputation as well as boost sales.
First Generation (1982-1991)
In October 1981, the first generation Pajero was introduced at the Tokyo Motor Show. In May 1982, it was officially offered for sale. In the beginning, the Pajero was offered as a 3-door with short-wheelbase featuring both metal and canvas top. The engine variants offered in first generation Pajero include: 2.0-litre 4-cylinder petrol (2000/2.0), 2.6-litre 4-cylinder petrol (Astron 2.6), 2.3-litre naturally aspirated diesel (2300 D), 2.5 liter turbocharged diesel (2500 TD/2.5 TD) and 3.0 liter V6 petrol (3000/3.0).
This 4-wheel drive model came with a turbocharged diesel engine, a front double wishbone suspension featuring torsion bar springs, power steering and suspension seats. All these features made the Pajero a passenger car alongside sport utility.
A new 5-door version with longer-wheelbase was added in the lineup in February 1983. This longer version came with either a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol or a 2.3 liter turbocharged diesel.
Second Generation (1991–2000)
More than 300,000 units of first generation Pajero were sold between 1989 and 1990 and now was the time to bring a renewed version. Hence, the second generation Pajero was appeared in January 1991. It was a completely redesigned version with improved features. Four different versions were offered including: Metal Top, Canvas Top Convertible, Semi High Roof Wagon and High Roof Wagon. Different engine options available were: a 3.0 liter 12-valve SOHC with ECI-Multi electronic fuel injection and a 2.5 liter turbocharged diesel engine with an intercooler.
Two new engines were added in the lineup in July 1993 including a 3.5-L 24-valve DOHC with ECI-Multi and a 2.8-L turbocharged diesel with an intercooler. A new transfer case and transmission were also introduced.
In October 1997, Pajero Evolution appeared on the scene. Multimode ABS and Super Select 4WD (SS4) commonly known as ActivTrak 4WD in some markets were also released for the second generation Pajero. These options were introduced for the first time in any of the Japanese 4-wheel drive platforms.
Third Generation (1999–2006)
In 1999, the third generation Pajero was launched in the Japanese market. However, the third generation Pajero made its debut in other markets in 2000 as 2001 model. In 2003, the third generation Pajero was introduced in the Philippines and certain other developing countries. It was completely a revised version of the Pajero. On-road handling and torsion rigidity was improved. Above all, the third generation Pajero featured a unibody construction compared to the previous body-on-frame construction. The third generation Pajero was a full-sized sport utility vehicle as compared to its previous mid-sized versions.
The third generation Pajero came with a new 3.8-L SOHC 24-valve V6 engine with an Electronic Throttle Valve (ETV).
The third generation Pajero was restyled in 2003 and scheduled to be replaced by new generation in 2006. This generation model was regarded as the most luxurious of the three generations.
Fourth Generation (2006-Present)
On September 30, 2006, the fourth generation model of Pajero was launched by Mitsubishi Motors at the Paris Motor Show. The fourth generation Pajero not only received an improved interior and exterior styling but safety features were also enhanced. For instance, the car received a dual-stage SRS front airbags, new side-impact and curtain airbags. The company kept the Super Select 4WD II system for the fourth generation along with an improved Active Stability and Traction Control (ASTC) system. The car also featured electronic brake-force distribution.
The engines were also upgraded to 3.2-L Diesel rated at 125 kW (167 hp; 170 PS) and the 3.8-L V6 engine now received the MIVEC variable valve timing to increase the engine power to 184 kW (247 hp; 250 PS). Both the upgraded versions comply with the new Euro IV emissions standards. Japanese along with GCC markets still offered a 3.0-L V6 version.