It was a thrilling experience to research and decide the vehicle to buy, thanks to my interactions with you, and starting an ownership thread is the only way to keep in touch with all of you and contribute something in return. There are many pictures already available of interiors, and in rainy conditions in Mumbai it has been difficult to snap pics of the Pajero, so uploading the good ones I managed. I have done 1050km and am past the first service, and past one 400km highway trip, and some extremely difficult driving conditions, so have a few observations to share.
In my buying decision thread, I have described the process I went through in some detail here (Decision Time Approaching: Mitsubishi Pajero Sport vs Toyota Fortuner
) ending with the PDI. I took delivery on 14th June, a Sunday. I paid the final amount a week earlier and the vehicle was sent for registration. I am not the type of person who would do a DIY on the registration given Mumbai traffic and hassle, so trusted the dealer who did a competent job. Buying experience:
The delivery was taken on a Sunday, and the showroom was understandably thinly staffed, and those present served us well. Paperwork had been all taken care of during the PDI and the D day was a ferociously rainy day, and I was accompanied by wife and kids, and wanted the entire process to end quickly. Any shortcomings could be tackled later during first service.
It was a difficult day because there was very little fuel in the vehicle to begin with, and by the time I finished touring the service facility and using google maps to find out the nearest functional fuel outlet, I had nearly exhausted the diesel, and my phone battery.
I managed to refuel, have lunch, drop my family off, and set out to change the tyres. The stock Apollo Apterra tyres were decent, but I was going by the advise of my tyre dealer with his 30 years experience and decided to change new-for-new. The phone died on me, and I used up a lot of precious daylight in locating the dealer (I had only spoken to him over the phone, and he came with the reference of a very close and experienced car enthusiast friend of mine).
But finally I reached, with 148km on the ODO (including 57 during the drive), swapped the tyres for Michelin Lattitude Cross, and headed back exhausted, and reached home at 8:30pm. Whew.
On that day, it turned out that there were a few items that the dealer could have better dealt with – the dealer gave me yellow rubber footmats, and was embarassed later when I mentioned it to him, and has agreed to change them to black. I was not given my music system remote, but this reached me later on another day of heavy rain. There was mild left pulling as I left the dealership and my tyre guy advised me that it was getting late and I should get alignment corrected during first service, and I went with that. The sat-nav says I am near Chennai and the dealer has said that he will re-install the system later (it involves opening the dash). The left horn was not working.
Finally, given that the sale was happening during monsoon, the dealer should have been clear that there was no anti-rust, and given me the option of doing it at some extra cost, but instead gave it to me without the anti rust. I now have to get it done again, and it involves leaving the car with the dealer’s service station for 2 days, but with a bit of alertness from him, could have been fitted in within the delivery schedule. Driving around
I will write about my expereince on the initial feel, interiors, music system, daily city driving, driving in rain, hill+cloud+rain driving, dynamics and ride quality, manual fallback, first service, overall experience (which is very good so far) and plans on accessorizing.
Initial feel: The feel is one of compactness. It seems to be caused by the particular combination in this car of the room available for the knee and the distance of the (not telescopic) steering wheel, among other things. If you move forward to have the steering wheel at a comfortable distance, the knee knocks against the dash. I have finally managed to get a comfortable position. But the specific curvature of the seat does not seem to suit me – I get pain in the upper back, which I have never got while driving my Corolla. The electrically operated backrest cannot be brought forward more than a certain extent, unlike in a manual system.
For my height of six feet, when I get down from the car, my feet don’t touch the ground – I have to hop down, so high is the car, and especially with the seat at maximum height. I am still experimenting on the best height for the seat, but for now it seems the max height is the best setting.
I idle for a minute before setting off, and don’t use the music system etc. while reversing out of parking (nearly nicked it once while paying some attention to an audiobook), and force myself to do it with extreme care and patience (the only scratches on my previous car were on bumpers because of carelessness while parking). Then I drive at low speeds for a little while before reaching cruising speed. The AT upshifts at around 2k, and at that rpm, in 5th gear, I hit 100kmph, so I guess one can be safe during the first 1000km staying within 100-110kmph though the manual (which has innumerable typos) says 135kmph. It takes around 2 min to get to the operating temperature.
Interiors: There is a lot of material already on this so I will merely say that there is a polished and dignified feel about everything. But some things are unexpected. All doors etc. have cup/bottle holders of the same size as the one next to the driver’s seat holding the rather compact cylindrical ashtray, so while the ashtray can be kept anywhere, I doubt if a large 1 litre bottle can be comfortably kept in these places. Unlike my Corolla which could hold my CD case comfortably within the box between the front seats, in the Pajero this is not possible, so I have to keep it in the driver side front door. There are various little slots for keeping phones etc. but phones have got bigger over time, and I cannot keep my iPhone 6+ in these, and have to use a windscreen mounted holder. But none of these are deal spoilers. The box between the front seats is not in a position to use as left armrest unless the driving seat is pulled back a bit.
The aircon is silent and effective and the backseat controls are effective. My smaller child who spends most of her time between the last row backrest and the hatch (the hatch cannot be opened from inside) says that cooling is good there also. I can get the coil sprayed with water once in a while without even opening the hood.
Music system : One has to reach out a bit to this, the user interface is a bit anachronistic, the touch screen is basic and not swift, but whatever works does so faultlessly. I still have to get the satnav to work however. The sound quality is good, and plenty of customization can be done, especially if a sub-woofer is added (as per the Kenwood manual). One problem which I forgot to mention during the first service was that if one keeps bluetooth on the phone on, the system quickly pairs, but if one uses the steering mounted controls to toggle between various inputs like iPod, tuner, bluetooth etc., the moment bluetooth gets selected, a song randomly picked up from the phone starts playing. The same thing happens in a different way – if I am not playing any music, and a call comes in, and if I take it on the bluetooth, upon the conclusion of the call, a randomly selected song from the phone starts playing. But not to worry. The bluetooth picks up the entire phonebook all right, but it is not really needed since it is easier to dial out of the phone itself. Caller ID gets displayed quite nicely.
The information display above the touch screen seems to understate the fuel consumption. I have got 9kmpl so far approx with a normal mix of city and highway driving (AC on plus average 3 people), but looking at the display one would get the impression of a lower number. Nevertheless, a useful real-time guide. So is the altimeter during hill driving.
City driving: I ruminated a lot on the comparison between the Fortuner and Pajero on “low end torque” and suitability for city driving. After 2 weeks, I feel that there are 3 types of city driving one does – bumper to bumper, uninterrupted driving at regular speeds for a few hundred meters at a time, and driving at a reasonable speed but with interruptions, such as when a cow walks across or when the BMW at the end of the street reverses just as you are picking up speed.
In the first two types of city driving, low end torque does not matter, IMO
. All cars are the same. In interrupted driving, where one has to accelerate after sharp braking, the Pajero can feel a bit sluggish compared to the Fortuner AT, which seemed to almost read my brain on accelerating. The Pajero spends a half-second digesting the instruction, but it is a minor matter.
I drove in extreme rain, a few 100mm per day, and the Pajero behaved impeccably. Knee deep water is meat and drink for it. I was careful about getting dirty water hitting the AC coil, so did not drive through water higher than that. Question to the gurus – the Pajero AC coil is faily exposed – how does one drive a 4x4 built like this? Is there no risk of the coil getting dirty and AC getting affected? Or one just stops and sprays some clean water and moves on?
The Pajero continues to give a reassuring feel even on very slippery looking roads. I was circumspect during such drives, but if I had speeded up a bit, I still would have been stable. I guess that in safer vehicles, one pushes the safety frontiers further, and it comes to the same thing in the end.
Highway and hill driving: Apart from the upper back pain, it has been a smooth ride on highways. While returning from Nasik, I encountered a situation when we were driving through heavy rain on a winding hill road, and a cloud was enveloping us. The headlights are 60w each, but the fog lamps are 55w affairs and together make a great combination, and made it seem simple. Climbing up steep slopes does not seem to be an issue. I did not need to use the manual fallback during climbing.
The user manual says that there is engine braking during hill descent, but over time, the relatively smaller component of engine braking is something I have got used to and it has got built into my driving habits, so I would not call this a big deal either. Descending down hills was a breeze, especially since this vehicle corners quite well and is remarkably stable. I still have to do the Ooty type of hairpin bends though.
Ride quality: There is tolerable NVH, and the ride is good in all three rows of seats. Part of it has to do with the Michelin Lattitude Cross tyres, and the nitrogen filling. On the first day itself, the tyre change had made an immediate and significant positive impact. It had been smooth with the Apollo Apterras, but the Michelins took it to a different plane. The change for 5 tyres was much less than 1% of the cost of the vehicle, so value for money.
At speeds of 110kmph, one gets the sense from the engine sound that this is just the appetizer. It doesn’t matter how many people there are – the acceleration is the same. Now since the first service is over, I will take the speeds above 120kmph, and then see the behaviour.
Surprisingly, the body roll is minimal while changing direction, and happens only when cornering at speed. The Pajero stays true to its reputation on bad roads – it flies through arrow-straight, regardless of obstacles, though I have treated it like the 4x2 it is, and not subjected it to rough driving at all. In short, I could not have asked for more.
The other thing about engine braking not being present is that given the massive momentum, it smoothens out the ride. The natural coasting also increases fuel efficiency. So once you build th minimal engine braking into your driving habits, the AT should be a superior drive.
Braking is highly competent, though I have to test it at very high speeds. I hear about the Fortuner that the bigger 16” drums at the rear prevent sufficient air cooling of the drums and that there have been many complaints on braking. However the 11” drums on the Pajero AT’s rear wheels are supposed to rarely get heated up. I have found the brakes on the manual significantly better, but once more, this is a matter of getting used to.
The manual fallback operates in two ways – 1) one can push away the gear lever to the manual side and pull it back to the AT side when wanting to revert to AT or 2) one can use the paddle shift, and when wanting to revert to AT, and pull and hold the right hand (“+”) paddle for 1 second to bring it back to AT. Using the left (“-“) paddle gives engine braking, if needed. Altogether, the arrangement is highly intuitive and convenient.
1000km service: This went off smoothly. The oil is not replaced at this time, but will be done in the 6month service. At that point the shavings will be drained out. I will get the service center to use the best synthetic oil (Motul 5W40) they have, else bring my own stuff and get them to use it if they permit. Then some serious speeds can be tried. The left horn which wasn’t working was replaced FOC, the car was inspected and cleaned up. I would have been happier if they had taken it up and examined from underneath. But I will give it back in a few days for anti-rust and they will have a chance to do it then along with the satnav. The staff is courteous and thorough, though the entire place has an easy paced look to it, in contrast to the very busy appearance of the Toyota folks that I have got used to. Alighnment was sorted out and the left pulling is gone. I don’t mind spending time in the facility as one makes friends with fellow fellow owners.
Overall, I am quite pleased with the way things are going. I would rate it 9/10 so far.
On accessorizing plans, I have planned the following:
- windsheild mounted phone holder
- Good quality floor mats – I believe dampmat is good. I would need rubber mats for sure, though.
- Wuurth or 3M or some other good quality car cleaning and maintenance kit – I plan to clean and wax myself once a quarter.
- Perhaps a car cover to protect from sunlight
- I hear good things about the Jopasu brush, and people say there is no need to clean the car. The manual says clearly that regular washing is needed for the exterior, protection agent for the leather interiors, and mild detergent based cleaning and wiping everywhere. I wonder where Jopasu fits in. I have to think more about these things over time – for the present the rains are taking care of cleaning.
Do give me your comments. If it has been too long, my apologies.