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Mitsubishi Challenger

Carpedia  ·  October 30, 2019

Mitsubishi Challenger

The Mitsubishi Challenger, aka Mitsubishi Pajero Sport, is a go-to vehicle for offroad enthusiasts and a reasonably priced one at that. For a medium SUV, the Pajero Sport packs a lot, coming up against its counterparts, like the Ford Everest and the Toyota Fortuner. With recent upgrades over the years, the Pajero Sport has morphed from a bulky SUV to one with class and elegance. 

It arrived in Australia as the Challenger for the first two generations and the Pajero Sport in the current generation. It is versatile and comes in different powertrain options. Produced since 1996, the Pajero Sport as a brand has had tremendous improvements. Let's see how it evolved through the years to the present. 

First Generation 1996-2008

The year 1996 saw the reign of Japanese cars in the world. Mitsubishi decided to try a stab at the SUV market. With the outline of the already manufactured Triton at hand, designers tweaked its design to come up with the Mitsubishi Challenger. The Challenger was also known as Nativa, Montero Sport, Shogun Sport, and Strada G-Wagon in other countries. Although the Mitsubishi Challenger draws inspiration from the Pajero, it is smaller in comparison. It, however, maintains Parejo's luggage space advantage. 

The first generation featured different engine modes which included a 3-litre 4-speed/5-speed powertrain (136kW, 265Nm). The 1999 model year featured two engine modes including a 3-litre 4-speed automatic and 3-litre V6 5-speed manual. Both powertrains produced a maximum torque of 265Nm and 136kW of power. 

In 2000, Mitsubishi introduced the Challenger series which came with anti-lock braking, frontal fog lights, limited slip differentials, side steps, and a leather steering feature. It still featured the previous year's engines. For the 2001 model year, Mitsubishi released two base models and an LS model with the same powertrain. 

The new XS lineup came up in 2002 and introduced 15-inch alloy wheels and new trims but maintained the main features of the previous series. These models ran on the same powertrain. The following year saw the launch of the new XS with the inclusion of a rear spoiler and cloth interior design for specific to the luxury model. The engine, however, remained similar to stock with no change to it. 

For the model year 2004, the Challengers featured a bolder body frame but still with no performance upgrades.

Second Generation 2009-2014

The second generation officially came out in August 2008, and the public did not get access to them until early 2009. Among the new releases was the XLS series, the premium class. Mitsubishi decided to retain the previous edition ladder chassis but ditched the leaf spring suspension for the more modern coil springs, for the rear wheels. This feature tremendously improved the vehicle's handling in rough terrain. The new models featured a 7-seater option, side curtains and airbags, and a reverse camera. The engine also received an upgrade that improved its fuel efficiency. 

The 2009 LS release featured cruise control, electronic brake-force distribution, engine immobiliser, traction control and vehicle stability control. The LS also offered a third row in the trunk as an option. The powertrain details for the next releases were:

• LS (5-seater) – 2.5-litre DT4 petrol engine that put out 350N.m of torque and 131kW of power with consumption of 9.8L/100km 

• LS (5-seater) – 2.5-litre DT4 diesel engine that put out 400N.m of torque and 131kW of power with 8.3L/100km

• LS (7-seater) – 2.5-litre DT4 diesel engine that produced 350N.m of torque and 131kW with consumption 9.8L/100km

• XLS (5-seater) – 2.5-litre DT4 diesel engine producing 350N.m of torque and 131kW of power with consumption of 9.8L/100km

The 2010 Challenger had similar specifications to its previous releases. In 2011, commemorated its 30th anniversary and released a special-edition Challenger with new features like protective glazing on the windscreen, power mirrors, and new roof rails. These models retained the previous year's drivetrain with 2.5-litre DT4 5-speed diesel engine that produced 350Nm of torque and 131kW of power while consuming 9.8L/100km. The manual variant, however, put out 400N.m of torque and 131kW of power while using up 8.2L/100km. The XLS models came with dusk-sensing Xenon headlights and mobile prone connectivity feature. The 2012 release saw an upgrade in technology with the inclusion of rain-sensing wipers.

In 2014, the Challenger got a significant design facelift which featured a new chrome front grille, interior chrome door handles, halogen headlights, high-mounted rear stoplight, a multifunction control screen and a spare-wheel. The LS version came with premium-leather gear knobs, and chrome exterior door handles.

Third Generation 2015 – Present

In August 2015, Mitsubishi revealed their third generation of the Mitsubishi Challenger named the Pajero Sport. This model became available here in Australia and Thailand as well. The following are the engine choices.

• 4N15 MINEV 2.4-litre diesel engine that produced 133kW of power and 430N.m of torque with improved consumption of 8.3l/100km

• 6B31 V6 3.0-litre petrol engine with 162kW maximum power and 314N.m maximum torque

• 4D56 I4-T 2.5-litre diesel engine that put out 100kW maximum power and 350N.m of torque

In Australia, we have the Sport available in base model 5-seater GLX and GLS versions or the 7-seater GLS and Exceed versions. Due to low sales of previous manual mode Challengers, we only get the Pajero Sport in automatic transmission. The new generation included premium features including a sunroof, dual-zone auto air conditioning system, multi-layer cushioned seats, multi-information display, and touchscreen system with navigation and all-around proximity sensors. The new models are lighter with the integration of CF plastics in their construction and now more fuel-efficient at 8.3L/100km. 

The 2019 Pajero Sport featured a major facelift which included a newly designed front fascia with dual-layer headlight configuration, an auto-hold parking brake, 8-inch digital screen, wider infotainment, and a hands-free electric tailgate. Pajero Sport was quite well-received in Australia with increasing sales each year. Sales reached 4,049 in 2014 and 6,566 in 2018, with hopeful projections for the MY2020. 

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