Mitsubishi's Pajero Sport Aspire has landed, but what else could you buy for similar money?

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2022 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Aspire
2022 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Aspire
  • Feature-rich Pajero Sport Aspire aims to get you out of your car and into an SUV.
  • The new model comes in 4x2 and 4x4 flavours, with standard eight-speed auto boxes.
  • Comparative hatchback and sedan prices puts affordability into perspective when tyre-kicking.
  • For motoring news, go to Wheels24

As SUV sales rise, manufacturers are pulling no punches to launch fresh models to entice motorists to jump out of their trusted hatchbacks and sedans and into raised body off-roaders. Mitsubishi Motors South Africa (MMSA) is the latest carmaker to bring a new SUV derivative to market with its keenly priced Pajero Sport Aspire. Available in 4x2 and 4x4 versions, the hardened utility vehicle aims to strike fear into the heart of the popular Toyota Fortuner and venerable Ford Everest.

The Pajero Sport Aspire 4x2 costs R674 995, and the 4x4 will set you back R724 995. Attractive pricing considering we recently drove the more compact Hyundai Tucson that costs around R700 000 for the nice one. 

We think this Pajero Sport Aspire might be just the right thing if you're looking for a replacement for your premium sedan or hatchback. But, we also believe there are several cool passenger cars to consider if you're shopping at this price point. Let's tuck into what the Pajero Sport Aspire has to offer, and then we'll highlight a few alternative vehicles that you could consider too.

2022 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Aspire
2022 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Aspire

What is 'Aspire', and how does it fit in the Pajero Sport line-up?

According to MMSA spokespeople, the Aspire nameplate symbolises superior sportiness and technology across some of the brand's most successful markets, including Australia. It will be launching several Aspire models in South Africa in 2022 and beyond. With the addition of the two Aspire models to the Pajero Sport line-up, there are now a total of five versions for you to choose from, depending on your mobility requirements.

Jeffrey Allison, General Manager: Marketing at MMSA, says: "Since we first introduced the current-generation Pajero Sport in 2020 and subsequently added the range-topping Exceed to the line-up, the Pajero Sport has proven to have great aspirational value. The limited-edition Aspire models will further cement Mitsubishi's position as the family vehicle of choice for consumers who desire the traditional capability, versatility, durability and comfort of the Pajero Sport but who also want to make a bold statement and stand out from the crowd."

You certainly will stand out in the Pajero Sport Aspire as it features a striking Dynamic Shield front end design. It's set apart from the other models in the line-up in a Jet Black or a White Diamond exterior paint finish, garnished with a two-tone roof, black roof rails, a black front grille and 18-inch alloy wheels – also in black.

2022 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Aspire
2022 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Aspire

Beefy performance with potential to 4x4

Both Pajero Sport Aspire models are powered by a 2.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine that serves up 133kW and 430Nm. This is more than enough to propel the seven-seater at respectable speeds. Thanks to an eight-speed torque converter automatic transmission, you get nice short ratios for gapping it around the city and those long cogs for lazy open road cruising. 

Suppose you opt for the 4x4 version of the Pajero Sport Aspire. In that case, you gain Mitsubishi's Super Select 4WD-II system, which delivers rugged performance in the most challenging driving conditions. Four selectable off-road modes (Gravel, Mud/Snow, Sand or Rock) ensure optimal engine output, transmission settings and braking for superior traction control when traversing challenging surfaces.

2022 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Aspire
2022 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Aspire

Loaded with luxury and safety features

Mitsubishi says the seven-seater cabin of the Aspire models smacks of comfort and luxury. Key features include black leather seats, power slide and reclining function for the driver's seat, newly added power lumbar support, electric windows all round with one-touch auto up/down function, and dual-zone climate control with a rear ventilation duct for the second row of seats. A multi-function leather-clad steering wheel places audio and cruise control settings at the driver's fingertips, while the full-colour digital instrument display ensures visibility of all relevant information.

The Pajero Sport also offers Bluetooth connectivity with hands-free voice control, coupled to Mitsubishi's advanced smartphone-link display audio connected to an 8-inch touchscreen. All models provide additional USB and accessory sockets (dual USB for the rear passengers) and a 220V AC 150-Watt power plug.

2022 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Aspire
2022 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Aspire

Of course, you get Mitsubishi's RISE (Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution) body construction. But you also get seven airbags and ISOFIX child seat anchors. Active safety features include Active stability and traction control (ASTC), an anti-lock braking system (ABS), electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), and emergency brake assist system (BAS).

The Pajero Sport Aspire safety package is rounded off with hill-start assist (HAS), trailer stability assist, auto levelling dusk-sensing LED headlights, front fog lamps, daytime running lights, rain-sensing windscreen wipers, rear park distance control and a rear-view camera for safer and easier parking. If you buy the 4x4 version, you also get hill descent control to the mix.

2022 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Aspire
2022 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Aspire

Is it worth considering as a family vehicle?

The new Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Aspire ticks all the boxes regarding family vehicle requirements. You can comfortably carry five people and luggage, or you can take seven people and use it as a shuttle bus, or you could drop all its seats and turn it into a proper light commercial vehicle.

That's the fantastic allure of these SUVs; you can use them for all sorts of lifestyle requirements. We would go for the 4x4 version, budget permitting, as it offers the capability to get out there and explore again now that we seem to be putting the pandemic behind us. But, we also think you could consider these vehicles if you spend this sort of money on a new car.

Alternatives to the Pajero Sport Aspire 4x2 (R674 995): If you spend this money, you can also buy a Triton 2.4DI-D double cab 4x4 auto for the same price. Of course, you might prefer a bakkie as you can load larger objects in the rear. You'll lose the seating for seven here, but you gain a class-leading 4x4 drivetrain, which is a bonus any way we look at it. 

If you'd prefer to stick to a premium hatchback, consider the Audi A3 Sportback 40 TFSI S Line that's priced at R673 500. Yes, that's what you will have to pay for a stylish five-door hatch these days with decent performance and features. Incidentally, BMW's 118d M Sport is also an option here if you prefer diesel and the fuel savings that come with that, but it's priced at a rather dear R679 094. Sure, you get a sporty drive and tons of street cred, but if you want more 'car for your money', the Pajero Sport Aspire is the one we'd opt for at this price point.

Alternatives to the Pajero Sport Aspire 4x4 (R724 995): If you are considering the 4x4 version of the latest Pajero Sport, you could also look at the slightly cheaper (only by R195) but more powerful Ford Everest 2.0 Bi-Turbo XLT that's priced at R724 800. You don't get 4x4 capability with the Ford, but XLT models are packed with premium features, and it comes with an exquisite 10-speed automatic gearbox. Just keep in mind that Ford launches a new Everest later this year. 

You can also stick to premium sedans here, and again, we'd look at the Audi side of life with the tried-and-tested A4 35 TFSI Advanced. It's priced at R727 000, powered by a punchy but fuel-efficient petrol turbo engine, and is decently appointed as standard. If you want a car that will turn heads at this price point, you could also consider the BMW 220i Gran Coupe Sport Line priced at R731 100.

2022 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Aspire
2022 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Aspire

Tough choices when you have the bucks

Shopping for a replacement vehicle can be challenging enough when you have to consider the rising cost of fuel and living expenses. Still, it's made even more difficult when you have so many incredible vehicles to choose from across so many different segments.

Of course, you'll know what you need best in terms of mobility requirements, but it's interesting to see that you can either buy small premium cars these days or large utility vehicles for similar money.

The Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Aspire is compelling, and we hope to be able to assess one of these models soon to let you know what it's like to live with in the city and what its real-world fuel consumption figures are like.

Do you think the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport Aspire is a worthwhile alternative to the Toyota Fortuner and Ford Everest? What about its merit as a replacement for your premium sedan or hatch? Let us know your thoughts on the new model in the comments section below.

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