The all-new Mitsubishi Montero Sport has finally landed on Philippine shores! The second-generation Montero Sport, which dominated the sport utility vehicle (SUV) market for seven years, started to lose its flair following allegations it is prone to sudden unintended acceleration as well as the release of the all-new Ford Everest and the introduction of the Isuzu mu-X, Chevrolet Trailblazer. The all-new Toyota Fortuner is also awaited by SUV buyers.
Koichi Namiki, corporate general manager of Mitsubishi Motors Corporation, said, “with the third generation all-new Montero Sport, the idea of what a pick-up truck-based SUV should be with its amazing design, amazing comfort, amazing all-terrain performance and amazingly advanced equipment concept.” Those are brave statements given its fiercest competitors, so lets see what the all-new Mitsubishi Sport can dish out.
Off-Road Torture Test
Recently, Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corporation (MMPC) First Vice President for Marketing Services Froilan Dytianquin and Manager for Advertising and Promotions Arlan Reyes entrusted a group of highly qualified experts to come up with an off-road track/course to highlight the all-new Montero Sport’s off-road capabilities to the public and media for four days. Straight from the Batangas City port with barely 10 kilometers on the odometer, the two units of the all-new Montero Sport were readied for the test: GLS 4WD six-speed M/T (manual transmission); and the top-of-the-line GT 4WD eight-speed A/T (automatic transmission). The course starts off with the use of the Super Select 4WD II Dial Type Selector settings to 4HLC (4wd High-Range w/ Locked Transfer) and 4LLC (4wd Low-range w/ Locked Transfer) traversing a gravel slalom then on to the articulation and gravel pit to feature the R/D (rear differential) Lock “ON” setting. And lastly, the 40-degree climb onto a two-story high make-shift hill highlights the Hill Assist feature. What a punishment!
What can amaze from the Mitsubishi’s advanced 4WD Selector system are the 4LLC setting and R/D locks, on the GLS six-speed M/T traversing over the articulation and gravel pit, where you start off on a crawl and by releasing your foot of the clutch and gas pedal, the all-new Montero will move on its own – yes, the manual will not stall! All you need to do is steer through the obstacles and the computer will do everything for you. For the hill climb, with 430 Newton-meters of torque, start off at the foot of the hill, release the clutch between 1,000-1,500 revolutions per minute and watch the all-new Montero climb with great ease with its engine doing 1,200 rpm – no need to rev up the engine or gain momentum from a distance. Going downhill was just the same, or by releasing the pedals when going down, the computer helps guide you with confidence, – easy.
The GT model A/T has even more advanced traction control system or four off-road modes: Gravel, Mud, Sand and Rock, much like on the Lancer Evolution 7,8,9 and 10 – without the rocks settings of course. This regulates the engine, transmission and brakes to control the amount of tire slip and maximize the car’s all-terrain performance over poor surfaces. Also, its ability to extract itself is maximized when it gets stuck. Articulation and gravel pit was no sweat because it was the hill assist that needed more programming. R/D locks “Off” HDC (Hill Decent Control) “On,” starting off the base of the hill and stopping mid-way showing the Hill Assist, the all-new Montero Sport will not crawl backwards so there is no need to step on the brake and gas pedal at the same time. All that is needed is pressing the pedal and the all-new Montero Sport moves on its own merrily. Going downhill is where the HDC comes to action, and the all-new Montero Sport holds steadily at a pre-determined speed, helping with the job of brake control so the driver can concentrate completely on steering. This makes the potentially difficult task of driving down a steep hill or rough terrain a lot easier.
I was doing this for four days in both M/T and A/T variants, and the all-new Montero Sport never missed a beat, and they had no creaks or weird noises after the abuse. Mileage when we finished was 215 kilometers and foot traffic for the entire event was almost 10,000.
As a Daily Driver
MMPC lent me the same GT unit used at the Mitsubishi Expo to allow me to test its on-road capabilities. Given the superb off-road capabilities of the all-new Montero Sport is utilized by only 5 percent to 10 percent of its lifetime by most SUV users, the day-to-day driving is where most of us use them most. And I was astonished at how a Japanese ladder-frame SUV rides like those old American cars.
But lets start off with the safety features like the new RISE or Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution body construction that redirects energy and away from the occupants in case of an accident. The GT and GLS M/T has seven airbags: driver and passenger; driver SRS double knee airbag; and SRS side and curtain airbags. Meanwhile, the GLS Premium A/T has six airbags like the GT without double knee SRS airbags and the GLS A/T has two airbags. Standard features included anti-lock brake system and electronic brakeforce distribution with brake assist. New safety features include Trailer Stability Assist, Active Stability Control, Hill Decent and Hill Start Assist. But wait, the GT model has the Forward Collision Mitigation System with three settings. It warns the driver with audible and visual signals and automatically applies emergency braking – great for those who fall asleep behind the wheel! It will shock you at first but you’ll get use to it. Lastly, the blind spot warning features a light at the side mirrors that lights up if there is an object or vehicle at the blind side.
The 4N15 four-cylinder 2.4-liter turbocharged diesel engine with VGT (variable geometry turbo) power plant is shared in all ranges and uses the common rail direct fuel injection. It Euro 4 compliant and has MIVEC (Mitsubishi Innovative Valve-timing Electronic Control) technology. This is the same variable-valve timing technology used on the rally-proven Evolution 9 and 10, Paris-Dakar Evo Pajeros and newer Mitsubishi gasoline-powered models. It is Mitsubishi’s exclusive technology that varies the timing and lift of the intake valves for optimal performance across the rev ranges, so at low ranges MIVEC provides quicker on-demand acceleration while higher ranges gets a boost in power. So 181 PS (178 horsepower) at 3,500 revolutions per minute can be utilized when fully loaded, and overtaking and trekking the mountains becomes a breeze with the 430 Nm of torque available. With all that torque, the all-new Montero Sport feels like it has a bigger displacement engine without the guilt of polluting the air while remaining fuel-efficient. On the stretch of NLEX, SCTEX and TPLEX, the cruise control was most needed because of the long distance of the expressways and their speed limits. But driving becomes exciting when shifting gears with the paddle shifters – shifting gears at low rpms along the gear range was smooth and precise.
While most SUVs have stiff and jarring ride, the all-new Montero Sport offers something like a full-sized sedan and there’s the comfy leather, dual-layered cushion seats absorbing most of the vibration and bumps that is great for long drives. The much-improved and repositioned three-link coil springs with stabilizer bar rear suspension and double wish-bone coil springs with stabilizer bar at the front also help make the ride of the all-new Montero Sport even better.
So even on standard 18-inch wheels and its truck-based chassis, bumps, runts, pot holes, uneven roads and humps are all soaked up like sponge to water, though there is this tendency for the all-new Montero Sport to bottom-out on a full load depending on speed and severity of road conditions.
Additional innovative features also include headlamp washers, cruise control and multi-information display remote, audio remote control, keyless operation system, rain-sensing wipers, electronic chromic rear view mirror, push start button, power tilt and sliding sunroof, auto light control, app-based mirror link, accessory sockets front and rear, and speed sensing auto door locks that, however, lack a separate switch to unlock them.
The SUV consumer market has increased significantly from the versatility of having a pick-up-based passenger vehicle. Meaning, you have the comforts and amenities of a car that can carry seven passengers instead of five, and space for baggage while having the confidence and ruggedness of driving over any given terrain. Also, there’s the ability to wade through water.
So these pick-up-based passenger vehicles allows you to get you and your family safely home with all the amenities a higher end luxury SUV or executive class sedan can offer. The all–new Montero Sport has even evolved into something the designers took from a science fiction movie, while in the area of equipment, clever Mitsubishi engineers threw in all the advanced technologies they can think of while keeping the prices reasonable. I’m looking forward on how competitors will compete against this bang-for-the-buck SUV.