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The clock is running out for the Mitsubishi Pajero

By Tim Robson, 06 Apr 2020 Car News

The future for the Mitsubishi Pajero

The Mitsubishi Pajero 4x4 is on borrowed time as market forces and boardroom unrest put it under pressure

It’s one of the oldest cars in an old line-up, but the Mitsubishi Pajero’s staying power is quite astonishing.

However, the curtains are starting to draw in on the large 4x4 which has been on sale in largely the same form since the early part of this century.

The company announced last year that the Mitsubishi Pajero – also known as the Shogun in other countries – would leave the Japanese market that it had served for so long, and evidence increasingly suggests that the big wagon will be replaced by a more road-ready large SUV.

2020 Mitsubishi Pajero announced news

Mitsubishi Motors' global chief operating officer, Ashwani Gupta, also refused last year to commit to a new ladder-on-frame platform.

However, the relative lack of sales for large 4x4 wagons means that Mitsubishi - which is in cost-conservation mode - may well look to the Triton-based Pajero Sport as its offroad wagon, and move the Pajero over to a unibody large SUV in partnership with the next-generation Nissan Pathfinder from 2021. 

The Pajero bid sayonara to its home market via a Final Edition model, which was limited to 700 units. Given that the Pajero’s sales had dwindled to less than 500 a year in Japan, it’s not as small a number as you’d think.

mitsubishi pajero 2020

The Pajero - which is built in a bespoke plant in Sakahogi, Japan - is still, however, sold in overseas markets, including Australia.

It was given an update for Australia late last year, with a simplified 2020 line-up now comprising of the base-model GLX at $53,990 and the upper-spec GLS at $59,490, the latter getting a Rockford Fosgate 12-speaker premium audio system. 

Other tweaks as part of this update include the addition of an auto high-beam function, HID headlamps with auto-levelling and headlamp washers as standard to the GLX model.

READ MORE Mitsubishi's big SUV sales surge

It sells less than half of the tally of its smaller stablemate, the Pajero Sport, but it’s almost outselling the much more modern Ford Everest.

Locally, Mitsubishi is in no rush to see the Pajero disappear from local showrooms; in fact, the company makes a lot of hay here with its fleet of older cars that include the popular ASX and Outlander SUVs.

However, the clock may be running out for the large 4x4. Mitsubishi, of course, forms part of an alliance that includes Renault and Nissan, and all future products will need to be viewed through the prism of platform sharing across at least two of the three brands.

READ MORE WhichCar should I buy - 4x4 ute or 4x4 wagon?

However, while a plan for a new Pajero to partner with Nissan's similarly laid-out Patrol was mooted as far back as 2016, the heat appears to have gone out of the idea internally.

Sales of large 4x4s continue to soften, while both safety and emissions regulations have become more onerous.

The Pajero’s current platform doesn’t support the addition of items like AEB and adaptive cruise control, for example, while mild hybrid systems – like in the brand’s Outlander PHEV – also need to be factored into future platform plans.

As well, continued unrest within the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi Alliance has allegedly put paid to a number of platform-sharing projects.