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Is Mitsubishi working on a replacement for the discontinued Pajero?
Not to be confused with the coming next-generation Pajero Sport that is based on the equally new Triton one-tonne ute, we’re talking about a successor to the full-sized 4x4 wagon that was discontinued in 2022 after nearly 40 years and three distinct iterations.
Rumoured for years now and fuelled by a recent comment made by the Mitsubishi Motor Corporation’s own CEO, Takao Kato, about the importance of preserving the nameplate, speculation is rife that a new Pajero is in the pipeline, and projected for release some time before mid-2026.
To whet our appetites, Mitsubishi even outlined a future-model roadmap as part of its Mid-Term Business Plan “Challenge 2025” update back in March. Among the 16 new vehicles featured (mostly in silhouette) to be released globally over the next five years, there were two 4WD-shaped wagons labelled PPV (for Pick-up Passenger Vehicle) and ‘3-row SUV’, which could be referring to the next Pajero Sport and Pajero respectively.
While Mitsubishi Motors Australia Limited (MMAL) President and CEO, Shaun Westcott, would neither confirm nor deny the existence of an all-new Pajero, he did reveal some intriguing pieces of a puzzle relating to the company’s future plans in this big-SUV space.
“What the Alliance gives us is access to those platforms,” he told CarsGuide at the Triton pre-launch drive near Adelaide recently.
“But what our global CEO (said) is that we value… the distinctiveness of what we call Mitsubishi-ness. We can and will rebadge cars where we need to, but as we have done with the Outlander and the X-Trail, you can see (ours) is distinctively Mitsubishi.
“We share a platform, and obviously that’s the benefit of the Alliance for us. It is even going further in the future with EVs. The platform – the skateboard – is what we need to share. And nobody cares if it is a Panasonic or an Eveready battery in your torch – a battery is a battery, mate!
“We want to distinguish and differentiate ourselves… so, even if we do use Alliance products, we will because that’s how we are going to keep costs down and make our cars more affordable for consumers.
“So, when you (ask about a Pajero based on Patrol), I can’t comment on that, but other than to say that if we do… we will aim to keep the Mitsubishi-ness, as said by our CEO.”
The takeaway from this, then, is that if a Y63 Patrol-based Pajero is in gestation, it would not just be a case of badge-engineering in the same way that the European-market ASX is a Renault Captur with a different name. At most, the Mitsubishi version would have a different body and interior as per the X-Trail-derived Outlander compared to its Nissan counterpart, or at the very least a unique nose and tail treatment to give the next Pajero a distinct identity.
Why isn’t MMC developing its own Pajero from the ground-up, then?
That’s because Nissan is in charge of creating the larger line of 4x4s and SUVs for the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, reflecting the company’s 70-year-plus heritage in this field. It makes sense.
Asked if MMAL needs a large three-row SUV or 4x4 to sit above the coming Pajero Sport replacement, Westcott was a little less opaque in his response.
“I’d like to see it,” he admitted. “I believe there is a space in the Australian market for it. Australia is a country that likes their big SUVs.
“What Australians show us and demonstrate to us through where they walk and where they talk and what they do, is that there is a large aspirational desire to have large SUVs and large pick-ups in this country. That’s people voting with their feet.
“There is a place for it in the market, we believe there is a place for it, our parent company believes there is a place for it, and that line-up of vehicles includes some fairly significant vehicles that we would like to have for Australia.”
Questioned if he would like it to be called Pajero again, Westcott referred to what Kato said on the record.
“I’m going to quote our global CEO, who said … ‘Pajero is a very valuable and very powerful nameplate’,” he explained. ‘“And whatever we replace it, it would need to be very powerful and very significant…’, and I agree very strongly with our global CEO.”
What the timing would be remains a secret, but Westcott reiterated that there is plenty of development activity going on in the 4x4 wagon space already.
“Our Pajero Sport is there at the moment, and that will be refreshed at some point in time, and what form that takes I can’t tell you,” he said.
“But there will be another vehicle… and we had all the shrouded vehicles put out, and not every single car in that line-up will come to Australia, but there are some significant models or vehicles that are shrouded that will come to Australia.
“(But for now) I will not speculate with you, other than to say that there are plans to upgrade and replace the Pajero Sport.”