The first Pajero prototype was unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show in November 1973. The Pajero II prototype followed in 1978, five years later. Mitsubishi's aim was to create more of a recreational vehicle, not just an SUV, as an alternative to the Toyota Land Cruiser and the Nissan Patrol for Japanese buyers.
In January 1983, the first Pajero made its debut at the Paris Dakar Rally, taking first place in 1985 at only the third attempt. To date, the Pajero is the most successful vehicle in the Dakar Rally (winning its class 7 out of the last 10 races, and 15 of the full 32 races). This not only gave the Pajero an off-road reputation, but also helped in the sales department. Other wins followed, at events such as the Australasian Safari and Northern Forest.
The first generation made its debut at the Tokyo Motor Show in October 1981, and was launched in May 1982. Initially, it was a three-door, short-wheelbase model available with a metal or canvas top and three different engines options, although more were gradually added, ending with a 3.0-liter V6 on top of the range.
The Pajero was further refined in June 1984. The turbo diesel engines now had higher power/torque ratings, whilst the long-wheelbase models got standard four-wheel disc brakes and four-way adjustable shock absorbers as standard equipment.
The first generation platform was later built under license by Hyundai Precision Products as the Hyundai Galloper from 1991 to 2003, and exported to Europe for a brief time. While it used first generation mechanicals, the Galloper's body was closer to the second generation Pajeros.
Mitsubishi redesigned the Pajeros for a second generation, which debuted in January 1991, although exports did not commence until later in the year. Just about everything was now new and further enhanced. A new, larger body was available in four different versions; Metal Top, Canvas Top Convertible (short wheelbase), Semi High Roof Wagon and High Roof Wagon (long wheelbase). The short wheelbase models were stretched by 70 millimetres (2.8 in) and the long-wheelbase models by 30 millimetres (1.2 in). The available engines included a 3.0-liter 12-valve SOHC (6G72) with ECI-Multi electronic fuel injection and a 2.5-liter turbocharged diesel engine (4D56T) with an intercooler.
The third generation was introduced on 2 August 1999 and was scheduled to be replaced by the Autumn of 2006, having been restyled in 2003. This was the most luxurious of the three generations, moving to a more upscale segment to compete against the Land Rover Discovery, but more importantly, to counter its home rival Toyota Land Cruiser's growth. The 3.0 L engine's power was increased to 130 kW (175 hp/177 PS), and the 3.5 L engine was given gasoline direct injection, increasing power to 162 kW (217 hp/220 PS) in the Japanese market (export versions kept the standard EFI engine, now with 149 kW (200 hp/203 PS). The 2.8 L Diesel was retained only for developing markets, and was replaced by a new 16-valve direct injection engine, with 3.2 L and 120 kW (161 hp/163 PS).
The fourth generation was introduced at the Paris Motor Show on 30 September 2006. New interior and exterior styling were accompanied by enhanced safety with dual-stage SRS front airbags as well as new side-impact and curtain airbags. The Super-Select 4WD II system was retained, complemented by an improved Active Stability & Traction Control (ASTC) system and electronic brakeforce distribution. With skid plates, heavy weight components and 8.7 inches (220 mm) of ground clearance the vehicle retains its reputation as one of the toughest and most capable 4x4s.
The engines were upgraded with the 3.2 L diesel gaining Common Rail technology, a DPF for cleaner emissions and producing 125 kW (167 hp/170 PS) and the 3.8 L V6 gaining MIVEC variable valve timing to boost power to 184 kW (247 hp/250 PS). Both engines meet new Euro IV emissions standards. The 3.0 L V6 is retained for the Japanese and GCC markets.
From 2009, the 3.0L V6 engine was dropped in the GCC markets, and was replaced by a 3.5L V6 engine, rated for 141 kW (189 hp/192 ps) and 306 Nm torque. Further enhancements to the 3.2L Turbo Diesel in the 2011 model year saw the power and torque increased to 147 kW/197 hp/200 PS and 441Nm respectively.
For the 2010 model year the Pajero gained a Rockford acoustic sound system and two interior color options, black and beige, in some markets.
For 2012, this model has been minimally restyled and given an improved monocoque body and suspension.
For the 2015 model year Pajero has received an updated front fascia with a revised grille, LED daytime running lights and a new spare tire cover. The interior design of the model is also slightly updated and it includes the metallic trim, the new piano black accents for the VR II, the wood grain trim for the Exceed and Super Exceed and the additional sound deadening material. The engines will be carried over and they will include the 3.0-liter 6G72 V6, the 3.5-liter 6G74 V6, the 3.8-liter 6G75 V6, the 2.8-liter four-cylinder turbo diesel 4M40, and the 3.2-liter 4M41 common rail four-cylinder turbo diesel.
The Mitsubishi Pajero Sport is a mid-size SUV produced by the Japanese manufacturer Mitsubishi Motors since 1996, spanning over three generations. Since 2015, for the third generation, Mitsubishi has no longer used the Challenger name, and use Pajero Sport/Montero Sport name instead.
Production began in Japan in 1996, and was available for most export markets by 1997, where it was variously known as the Challenger, Pajero Sport in Europe, Montero Sport in North America, South America and the Philippines, Nativa in parts of Latin America, the Caribbean and Canada and the Middle East, Shogun Sport in the United Kingdom, and Strada G-Wagon in Thailand. Based on the Mitsubishi Strada pickup truck of the same vintage, sharing many components and some body panels (i.e. front doors), the first generation Pajero Sport (Challenger) was also built on the second generation Pajero wheelbase, and served as a junior model to the larger Pajero.
The second generation of the vehicle, based on the ladder frame chassis of the Mitsubishi Triton, was gradually introduced to selected markets (Russia, South-East Asia and the Middle East) through the autumn of 2008, following its debut at the Moscow Auto Salon. 2.5 or 3.2 litre diesel and 3.0 or 3.5 litre V6 petrol engines are available as before, while five- or seven-seat interior configurations are offered. As with the Triton pick-up on which it is based, production of the new Pajero Sport for all markets is concentrated in Thailand.
In the Philippines, in Canada and in Mexico, Mitsubishi Challenger is officially named as Mitsubishi Montero Sport. The Mitsubishi Montero Sport is available in seven variants: GLX-V 4x2 (5-speed Manual), GLS-V 4x2 (5-speed Automatic), GLS-V 4x4 (5-speed Manual), GT-V 4x4 (5-speed Automatic) all equipped with Variable geometry turbocharger giving maximum output of 178 PS and 350 Nm (Automatic) or 400 Nm (Manual) of Torque. Also offered are non-VGT variants GLX 4x2 (5-speed Manual), GLX 4x2 (5-speed Automatic) & GLS 3.0 V6 Gasoline (5-speed Automatic). The Montero Sport mainly competes with the Toyota Fortuner and Chevrolet Trailblazer in the Philippines and several other markets.
In India, Mitsubishi Challenger is sold under the name Mitsubishi Pajero Sport. It is equipped with 2.5-litre 16 Valve intercooled turbocharged DOHC diesel engine giving a maximum output of 175 bhp and 400Nm of torque. It weighs 2065 kg and gives out a mileage of 12kmpl. It sold with a price tag of INR 23.12 lakhs.
In Bangladesh, Mitsubishi Challenger is assembled by state-owned automotive industry Pragoti and sold under the name Mitsubishi Pajero Sport.
In August 1, 2015, Mitsubishi Motors unveiled the third generation of the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport in Thailand and would be released as 2016 model year and would be powered by the new 4N15 2.4L MIVEC engine. Since the third generation was unveiled, it has no longer used the Challenger name, and used Pajero Sport/Montero Sport name instead.
The Pajero Sport/Montero Sport has 3 engine options. The old 4D56 DI-D Common Rail produce 136 PS and 314 NM (GLX Variant in Indonesia) and 4N15 MIVEC with Variable Geometry Turbo producing 181 PS and 430 NM (Dakar Variant in Indonesia and All Variants in Thailand and Philippines.) and the 3.0L 6B31 MIVEC V6 Petrol Engine.
The Mitsubishi Pajero iO is a mini sport utility vehicle produced by the Japanese manufacturer Mitsubishi between 1999 (since June 15, 1998, in three-door form, and August 24, 1998, as a five-door) and 2007. The "iO" name is derived from the Italian for "I" which, according to Mitsubishi, "generates an image of being easy to get to know, easy to drive, and of being one's very own Pajero".
It was exported as the Montero iO, and to Europe as the Pajero Pinin, Shogun Pinin or simply Pinin to honour Pininfarina, which built the local market versions of the car at their factory near Turin, Italy. It was also produced in Brazil as the Pajero TR4 from 2002 to 2015 under license. The name was changed after imported versions were referred to as "1.0" instead of "iO", which could lead to confusion about the engine sizes. The Brazilian TR4 had been since July 2007 the Mitsubishi's first four-wheel drive flexible-fuel vehicle, running on gasoline, ethanol or a combination of the two.
The Pajero Evolution was introduced in October 1997, which was developed in response to new entry requirements for the Paris – Dakar Rally's T3 Class. The Pajero Evolution came standard with a 3.5-liter 24-valve DOHC V6 with Mitsubishi Innovative Valve Timing and Electronic Lift Control (MIVEC). A new, dual plenum variable intake helped increase power and a new independent rear suspension made the ride even smoother.
With those first tentative steps back in 1985, Mitsubishi Motors began to build a motorsport legend that would come to dominate that most challenging rally for decades. Back then, the company entered a trio of Pajeros, and incredibly, two of them finished in first and second place. This was to become a familiar scene at the finish of Dakar – Mitsubishi Motors posted no less than seven consecutive victories on the Dakar Rally, and a record total of 12 victories.
1985 - Mitsubishi's first Dakar victory
This is where Mitsubishi Motors’ heritage on the world's greatest off-road rally began. A trio of Pajeros piloted by Andrew Cowan, Patrick Zaniroli and Bernard Béguin contested the 1985 Dakar. Frenchman Zaniroli gave the team the first of its record-breaking 12 victories. Andrew Cowan finished second.
1992 - The most successful Dakar to date
The organisers made significant changes to the route of the 1992 Dakar and the event finished in Cape Town, South Africa, for the first and only time in its history. The event also turned out to be the most successful one to date for Mitsubishi Motors, with victory going to Frenchman Hubert Auriol. He was joined on the podium by teammates Erwin Weber of Germany – a Dakar rookie – and Kenjiro Shinozuka.
1993 - Third Mitsubishi victory by Bruno Saby
Five official cars were entered in 1993, with Frenchman Bruno Saby joining Kenjiro Shinozuka, Erwin Weber, Jean-Pierre Fontenay and Spain’s Salvador Servia. Mitsubishi Motors took its third outright victory, courtesy of Saby and co-driver Dominique Serieys, the team's Race Director at Pont de Vaux, France. Weber and Shinozuka were fourth and fifth.
1997 - The Mitsubishi Motors' team dominated
The 1997 event started and finished in Dakar. Mitsubishi Motors’ team dominated from the outset to win for the fourth time. The team filled the top four places in the overall classification, with Kenjiro Shinozuka claiming his first win, which was also the first win at Dakar for a Japanese driver. Jean-Pierre Fontenay, Bruno Saby and Hiroshi Masuoka followed him over the line.
1998 - A successful season
The event returned to a traditional Paris start in 1998 and attracted a 173-car entry. Bruno Saby, Kenjiro Shinozuka, Jean-Pierre Fontenay and Hiroshi Masuoka were joined by the former French skier Luc Alphand. Fontenay clinched the team's fifth outright victory, as teammates Shinozuka, Saby and Masuoka filled the remaining three podium positions. To cap a successful season, the team also won the FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup for the first time.
2001 - First woman ever wins the Dakar
Jean-Pierre Fontenay, Kenjiro Shinozuka, Jutta Kleinschmidt, Hiroshi Masuoka, Carlos Sousa and David Prieto tackled the 2001 event for Mitsubishi Motors. The rally soon developed into a battle between Mitsubishi Motors, Nissan and Schlesser. Kleinschmidt became the first woman ever to win the Dakar, after teammate Masuoka lost time in Senegal and dropped to second place. Sousa and Fontenay were fifth and sixth. It was Mitsubishi Motors' sixth outright win in the Dakar Rally.
2002 - Mitsubishi filled nine of the top 10 places
The 2002 event began in Arras, northern France and Mitsubishi Motors entered Pajeros/Monteros for Jean-Pierre Fontenay, Kenjiro Shinozuka, Jutta Kleinschmidt, Hiroshi Masuoka, Carlos Sousa and Luc Alphand. Mitsubishi Motors’ runners claimed nine of the 15 stages and took a second consecutive victory, courtesy of Masuoka's maiden success. Mitsubishi Motors completed a rout of the top 10, with Pajeros/Monteros filling nine of the top 10 places. Kleinschmidt and Shinozuka were second and third.
2003 - First Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution to win Dakar
The 2003 event began in Marseille, France, and finished in the Egyptian resort of Sharm El Sheikh. Mitsubishi Motors fielded a pair of new Mitsubishi Pajero Evolutions for Frenchman Stéphane Peterhansel and Hiroshi Masuoka, plus two traditional Pajeros/Monteros for Jean-Pierre Fontenay and Massimo Biasion. Peterhansel charged into what appeared to be an unassailable lead, only to hit trouble on the penultimate stage in Egypt, which ended with him handing a second consecutive victory to Masuoka. It was also the team's third successive win and its eighth Dakar success in total. Masuoka was joined on the podium by Fontenay and Peterhansel.
2004 - Stéphane Peterhansel claims the victory
Former biker Stéphane Peterhansel made up for the previous year’s disappointment by clinching a comfortable maiden victory on four wheels on the 2004 Dakar rally. This gave the new four-litre V6 Pajero/Montero Evolution a second successive win and Mitsubishi Motors' ninth in total. Peterhansel also became the second competitor after Hubert Auriol to have won the event on both two and four wheels.
2005 - Mitsubishi's 10th Dakar victory
In its bid to claim a record breaking 10th Dakar victory, the Mitsubishi Motors Repsol ATS Studios Team entered five cars for the 2005 Telefónica Dakar Rally, which started in Barcelona for the first time and finished in Dakar. Stéphane Peterhansel and Luc Alphand emerged in front once the event headed into Mauritania and clinched the five fastest stage times on their way to a convincing one-two win for Mitsubishi Motors. The success marked Mitsubishi Motors' fifth successive Dakar triumph and a second win for Peterhansel in a Mitsubishi. Alphand took a personal best second overall and Dakar team debutant Joan ‘Nani’ Roma was sixth. Andrea Mayer and Jean Michel Polato piloted the L200 pick-up in which Andrea finished 10th overall in Rallye Orpi Maroc.
2006 - Luc Alphand's maiden Dakar victory
Stéphane Peterhansel, Joan ‘Nani’ Roma, Luc Alphand and Hiroshi Masuoka lined up for the start of the 2006 Dakar Rally in Lisbon, Portugal, with the latest version of the Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution MPR12 looking for a sixth successive victory in the African classic. Peterhansel took command as the event reached Mauritania but damaged his suspension soon afterwards. Alphand inherited the lead and held on to it to the finish to clinch his maiden Dakar victory and Mitsubishi Motors’ eleventh in total. Roma finished third and Peterhansel recovered to take fourth place, although Masuoka crashed out of the event in Morocco.
2007 - 7th Mitsubishi victory in a row
In addition to Mitsubishi Motors’ continuing test and development programme with the Pajero/Montero MPR13, the 2007 cross country rally season brought the team further success as Stéphane Peterhansel took the laurels ahead of Joan ‘Nani’ Roma (2nd) on the Baja España, as well as his fourth win for Mitsubishi Motors in the UAE Desert Challenge. He followed this up with the team’s 12th, and his third, win in the Dakar.