Mitsubishi Pajero resurrection wanted in Australia

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Mystery surrounds a forthcoming large SUV teased by Mitsubishi. Could it be a return of the Pajero as the brand’s premier nameplate, after a four-year hiatus?


Mitsubishi Australia has expressed interest in a revival of the Mitsubishi Pajero four-wheel-drive – the spirit of which may appear in an upcoming seven-seat large SUV confirmed for production by head office in Japan.

Speaking to Drive, Mitsubishi Australia CEO Shaun Westcott said the Pajero nameplate was “very, very valuable” to the company, and that “anything that carries the name Pajero needs to be really distinctive and a really great vehicle.”

Mitsubishi in Japan has teased plans for multiple large SUVs – including a ‘monocoque’ vehicle, and a model based on the new Triton expected to be the new Pajero Sport – and Mr Westcott confirmed plans to introduce some form of a large SUV in Australia in the future.

The Mitsubishi Pajero ended production in 2021 after almost four decades and in excess of 3.3 million sales globally – of which more than 150,000 were sold in Australia.

“Our global platforms – and some of them are under shrouds – [that] lineup over the next few years includes some large SUVs in there.”

“What their nameplates will be, I can’t tell you, but there is definitely plans for us to have large SUVs in the future,” Mr Westcott told Drive.

“Whether that’s a Pajero Sport or whether it’s a Pajero, I can’t say as we sit here now, other than to say that we do believe Australia – and we all know the Australian market very well, we all live here – the demand for large SUVs is still pretty strong in this country.”

In November 2023, Australian buyers took delivery of almost 3100 Toyota Prado SUVs, 1460 Toyota LandCruiser wagons, and more than 940 Nissan Patrols.

“We’re not Europe, we’re Australia, and our job is to supply the market with what it needs,” Mr Westcott added.

In March 2023, Mitsubishi revealed plans to introduce 16 new models in the next five years, including a “pick-up passenger vehicle” – likely the next Pajero Sport based on the all-new Triton ute platform – as well as a mystery seven-seater SUV.

When asked by Australian media at the unveiling of the new Triton in July 2023, global executives for Mitsubishi said the mystery vehicle was not – at that time – planned for sale in Australia.

Speaking to Drive this month, Mr Westcott did not confirm either way if the new vehicle would be sold in Australia, or if it would wear the Pajero name.

“We definitely – as you’ll see the lineup with the shrouds on – there is definitely a large SUV,” he said.

“It’s undercover, but there’s a large SUV in there. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you more than that right now.”

Artist Theottle created digital illustrations for Drive of what a new-generation Mitsubishi Pajero could look like, based on the car maker’s current design language.

One possibility is a new Pajero could share its underpinnings with another large SUV found elsewhere within the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance.

“I would say [the alliance is] very healthy,” Mr Westcott said. “If you look at it, it’s a relationship of respect, collaboration, and cooperation. It’s working for us.”

In April 2023, a top Mitsubishi executive dismissed the possibility of the Pajero being a rebadged Nissan Patrol – however, they left the door open for the Pajero sharing “systems and components” from the alliance.

“A vehicle like the Pajero, that’s our brand, that’s at the heart of our brand,” Koichi Namiki, the executive in charge of product strategy for Mitsubishi Motors, told a media roundtable at the time.

“If we do that, of course we want to control everything and we might utilise some of the alliance systems and components and so on, but we would like to produce the vehicle.”

However, Mr Westcott wasn’t as quick to shut down the idea of sharing a platform with the Nissan Patrol.

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Spy photos of the next-generation Nissan Patrol.

“I’m not going to speculate in that space, other than to say that through the collaboration and cooperation agreement we have within the alliance, they are able to access some of our platforms and we are able to access some of their platforms. You’re seeing that already,” he told Drive.

“If you look at the Outlander standing out there – the X-Trail and the Outlander share the same platform, yet they still retain a distinctive identity.

“Our global CEO is on record of talking about Mitsubishi-ness, and I think we’ve achieved that with the Outlander.”

Mr Westcott argues the Outlander remains a distinctly Mitsubishi product – despite sharing its platform with the Nissan X-Trail – leaving open the possibility of a Pajero following that same recipe. Potentially with hybrid technology.

“The way we make cars more affordable for customers is to share, collaborate on [research and development], on technology.

“If I can use the [Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance’s hybrid] battery at the end of the day – and I just use simplistic analogies… if your torch has got Eveready in it or it’s got Panasonic batteries in, who cares anyway? It’s a battery,” Mr Westcott said.

“If you look at the future and the amount of [research and development] and investment that’s required to take battery technology where it needs to be, it just makes sense to work together to collaborate and create what I call the skateboard, which is basically the platform.

“Then you create your own vehicles on top of that. The opportunities for us to do that are there. It really depends on our individual market requirements and what we need in this country. Obviously, there’s economics around that, so the economics have to be taken into account.”

The Mitsubishi Australia boss declined to answer whether there were any platforms that were entirely off-limits within its alliance with Renault and Nissan.

According to Mitsubishi’s own product plan shown earlier this year, it’s going to be late 2024 before its large SUV comes to market.

Ben Zachariah is an experienced writer and motoring journalist from Melbourne, having worked in the automotive industry for more two decades. Ben began writing professionally more than 15 years ago and was previously an interstate truck driver. He completed his MBA in Finance in early 2021 and is considered an expert on classic car investment.

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