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Mitsubishi Montero 3.2 DI-D (Old)

13th Sep 2009 7:00 am

The Montero ticks all the boxes luxury SUV owners want

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  • Make : Mitsubishi
  • Model : Montero

Though the Montero is essentially a face-lifted version of the earlier Pajero 3.2, it looks distinctively different with a new grille, a new bumper and reworked front fenders, which still have those characteristic bulges. The fog lamps are now round instead of rectangular and the narrower grille has a prominent central bar. Going over to the sides, the body-cladding is in a different shade and the rear wheel arch retains that huge bulge towards the rear-lights. The rear remains pretty much the same with just an addition of an air-spoiler.

The Montero’s 3.2-litre twin-cam, 16-valve unit is a direct-injection turbo but doesn’t come with ‘common-rail’ technology — a byword today for cutting-edge diesels. The specs are still pretty impressive though, especially the 38kgm of torque, which is developed at only 2000rpm.

It has a lot of electronic help like the M-ASTC (Mitsubishi Active Stability Traction Control) system where the engine ECU houses eight sensors within it, all on the lookout for loss of traction.  If a wheel spins or is not in symphony with the other three, the ECU engages traction control providing a combination of braking and accelerating force through the hydraulic control unit, so you won’t be caught wanting for traction.  Add the differential locks and a low range transfer case and you have an SUV that can brush off most surfaces.

The biggest improvements are in the interiors. While the earlier Pajero 3.2 had good quality, but very dull, grey plastics, the Montero’s cabin is now a nicer place to live in. The décor is a nice mix of wood and black and suede leather and the pleated seats look very rich.

Equipment levels are in keeping with the price tag as well. Electric adjusters for both front seats are standard (not present on the earlier Pajero 3.2) as are airbags. A CD/MP3 player comes as standard. The Montero also comes with an ‘RV meter’ that gives info outdoor fans will relish. Neatly integrated into the top of the centre console, the bright LCD screen displays altitude, atmospheric pressure, the date and time, AC vent positions and also has a compass. It’s a gizmo that’s sure to be a hit with owners.

The front seats are extremely comfortable and supportive and road visibility is superb. The middle row has decent legroom, but the seat base is a touch too low and doesn’t give sufficient under-thigh support. The last row is best for a couple of kids but what’s ingenious about this pair of seats is that they stow under the floor to offer a flat and unhindered luggage bay. Special mention of the awesome Rockford Fosgate audio system that comes standard in the Montero because its sounds really good.

You wouldn’t expect this massive piece of metal to be nimble, but the monocoque construction of the chassis and a raft of electronic driver aids make this a car you would want to take anywhere.

At any speed, on any surface, the Montero in a word is confidence-inspiring. Yes, there is a distinct amount of body roll given the Montero’s lofty dimensions but it always feels firmly balanced and doesn’t threaten to topple over even when you push the limits. The steering is nice and accurate and the huge tyres (265/65 R17) afford massive amounts of grip and impeccable ride quality on the roughest of roads. 
 

On slippery roads, the Automatic Stability & Traction Control keeps you on the straight and narrow. Driving with the ASC switched off, it is easy to break traction especially in two-wheel-drive mode. Like most SUVs, driving in regular 4WD mode on a loose surface gives a greater sense of security, the added traction making the Montero a lot safer to drive.

Speaking of rough roads, you couldn’t possibly drive around in a Mitsubishi SUV and not plonk it off the road, can you? One gripe you may have though is the lack of an electronic 4WD selector, but the stubby lever the Montero comes with is easy to use with its ‘press and shift’ action. Off-road, the Montero is amazingly capable.

Mitsubishi Montero 3.2 DI-D (Old)
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