Why shouldn't we mourn the death of the Mitsubishi Pajero?

CY Foong/Jul 31, 2020 01:00 PM

If you’re a fan of Mitsubishi and 4x4s, you are probably saddened by news of Mitsubishi announcing the end of production of the Pajero in 2021.

Right now is probably not a good time to be a Mitsubishi fan. The Eclipse name was revived on a crossover and sales of Mitsubishis are dwindling to the point they're exiting European markets while focusing more on ASEAN markets. The Pajero being killed off in favour of Outlanders might be the final nail in the coffin but please bear with me.

This is exactly how I imagined a Pajero in my head

The Pajero is by all means a very iconic SUV. Like how non-car people would call every pick-up truck a ‘Hailak’, the Pajero was once a trendy SUV way before they became crossovers. Besides the Toyota Land Cruiser – which is called the Ninja in East Malaysia, and the Isuzu Trooper, the Pajero was one of the most common SUVs I've seen on the road growing up.

Mitsubishi’s iconic SUV was launched in 1982 and replaced the Mitsubishi Jeep, a model that had roots that traced back to World War II as the Willys Jeep.

Immediately when the Pajero was launched, it captured the hearts of many off-roading enthusiasts. It began taking part in the infamously challenging Paris Dakar rally in 1983, before winning in 1985. Mitsubishi went on to take the podium at least once in the following 22 years until 2007.

The only time when not a single three-diamond-badged SUV landed on the podium was in 1990 but still, it was quite a record for Mitsubishi. Even the Guinness Book of Records recognised Mitsubishi by giving it the title of ‘Most Dakar Rally Wins by a Manufacturer’ with 12 overall wins and 150 stage wins.

As for the production Pajero, it was pretty old-school. Across four generations, the Pajero grew bigger but the whole formula stayed the same. The current generation might be introduced in 2006, making it 14 years old, but its underpinnings dated back to 1999!

That might be one of the reasons to pull the Pajero out of production. The body-on-frame chassis is too costly to build. Worse, sales of the Pajero have been slipping since 2008, when there was a global economic downturn. Even when the model was launched in Malaysia briefly in 2014, not many people bought it. Some were more in favour of grey-import Land Cruisers.

Plus, given Mitsubishi’s recent attempts to be green and fuel-efficient by pushing forward with hybrid and electric technology, the Pajero felt like a completely old dinosaur among a sea of efficient robots.

So, while it is sad to see Mitsubishi putting the Pajero out to pasture, in light of what’s happening at Mitsubishi, it’s probably for the best. Also, if you want to see the old Mitsubishi spirit continue in today’s models, have a look at our Triton review.