Winner of the 2020 Middle East Car of the Year awards’ Midsize SUV category in a segment well-fielded with accomplished models, the Mitsubishi Montero Sport is a practical, accessible and attainable vehicle with plenty of refinement, generous equipment levels, genuine off-road ability and an imposingly towering road presence. Only just smaller than Mitsubishi’s highly popular and long-established Pajero flagship SUV model, the Montero Sport offers similarly levels of ability, space and comfort, in addition to more advanced driver assistance systems and an 8- rather than 5-speed gearbox.
Whether the Montero Sport will compete with or eventually replace the aging but still very impressive Pajero one can speculate. However, given that the Montero Sport is known in certain markets as the ‘Pajero Sport’ and that our more familiar Pajero is likewise sold in some markets under the ‘Montero’ nameplate, one assumes that the differentiation in the pair’s naming strategy, indicates that the two are intended to complement each other in Middle East markets. Set to run side-by-side for now, the two models’ design is similarly distinct.
Tall and imposing with squinting headlights aside a slim three-slat chrome and browed by clamshell bonnet, the Montero Sport’s height is emphasized by its huge lower intake, framed with C-shaped chrome trim and flanked by side lights. The Montero Sport’s high-set bonnet, tall cabin and roofline and upward waistline kink at the rearmost side window all underline its height. Similarly, a thick side crease extending from the headlight edges, over bulging squared-off wheel-arches and then extending into and bisecting slim vertical rear lights also seem to emphasize height.
Rugged and jutting in its design, surfacing and demeanor, the Montero Sport, with its shorter length yet longer wheelbase and more pronounced bonnet and overhang, doesn’t quite have the Pajero’s classical rear-biased stance. But it does achieve a similar sense of visual rear ‘weight’ to help lend a certain sense of urgency to its design. Meanwhile under its muscularly contoured and tall bonnet, the range-topping Montero Sport version is powered by a naturally-aspirated in-line 3-litre V6 engine driving all four wheels and mated with a smooth-shifting 8-speed automatic gearbox.
Developing 215BHP at 6,000rpm and 210lb/ft torque at 4,000rpm, the Montero Sport benefit from its broad range of gear ratios to make the most of its output to maximize performance and minimize fuel consumption. Able to achieve a 180km/h top speed, is meanwhile estimated to cover the 0-100km/h acceleration benchmark in around 10-seconds or less, even with its near two-tonne weight in the top spec 3-litre 4WD variant, as tested. Smooth and progressive in delivery and build-up, the Montero Sport moves at a good pace in town and the open road.
Refined and insulated inside, the Montero Sport isn’t and doesn’t feel particularly fast, but is quick enough and never feels short, whether setting off from standstill or overtaking in mid-range or reaching for its rev limit. Driving in rear-wheel-drive in normal conditions to reduce consumption, the Montero Sport’s four-wheel-drive system can be engaged in 4H mode on tarmac or moderate off-road conditions for added traction and grip, where it drives with a 60% rear bias to lend it more agility and feeling of balance like a rear-wheel-drive vehicle.
A capable off-roader that proved effortless through desert and dunes in regular four-wheel-drive mode during test drive, the Montero Sport is, the Montero Sport features a locking centre differential when additional traction is needed, and low gear ratios for high power driving at a crawling pace when necessary for yet more demanding conditions. A drive mode selector meanwhile optimizes wheel slip, transmission, braking and engine torque for different surfaces and conditions. The Montero sport also features generous 218mm ground clearance and 30° approach, 23.1° ramp and 24.2° departure angles.
A comfortable and refined drive that well insulates occupants from bumps, lumps and road imperfections with its absorbent tyres and forgiving suspension, the Montero Sport is a smooth and relaxed ride with good highway stability too. Riding high and comfortably, it leans slightly through corners but nevertheless feels balanced, grippy and committed throughout. Tidy into corners with its balanced weight distribution, the Montero Sport is reassuring if not particularly sporty. Steering meanwhile is accurate but light and set-up for comfort rather than edgy feel and feedback.
A spacious and big 7-seat SUV with plenty of room for passengers and luggage, the Montero Sport however feels like a bigger and wider vehicle from the driver’s seat, owing to its high-set bonnet. Nevertheless, despite the high bonnet, the Montero Sport is a more maneuverable vehicle than many in its class, with a comparatively narrow body and tight 11.2-meter turning circle. Parking sensors and an around view camera meanwhile add more confidence in tight confines.
Pleasant, user-friendly and well appointed with good quality materials, the Montero Sport is also well-equipped with convenience, infotainment and safety features including a two-sensor automatic tailgate, seven airbags and driver assistance systems like rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, lane change assistance and a forward collision mitigation system.
- Engine: 3-litre, in-line V6-cylinders
- Bore x stroke: 87.6 x 82.9mm
- Compression ratio: 9.5:1
- Valve-train: 24-valve, variable valve timing, SOHC
- Gearbox: 8-speed automatic, four-wheel-drive
- Drive-train: Locking centre differential, low gear transfer case
- Power, BHP (PS) [kW]: 215 (218)  @6,000rpm
- Specific power: 71.7BHP/litre
- Power-to-weight: 108BHP/tonne
- Torque, lb/ft (Nm): 210 (285) @4,000rpm
- Specific torque: 95Nm/litre
- Torque-to-weight: 143.5Nm/tonne
- 0-100km/h: under 10-seconds (estimate)
- Top speed: 182km/h
- Fuel capacity: 70-litres
- Height: 1,800mm
- Width: 1,815mm
- Length: 4,825mm
- Wheelbase: 2,800mm
- Track, F/R: 1,520/1,515mm
- Overhangs, F/R: 900/1,125mm
- Ground clearance: 218mm
- Wading depth: 700mm
- Approach / ramp / departure angles: 30° / 23.1° / 24.2°
- Tilt angle: 45%
- Kerb weight: 1,985kg
- Gross vehicle weight: 2,670kg
- Seating capacity: 7
- Steering: Power assisted rack and pinion
- Turning radius: 11.2-meters
- Suspension, F/R: Double wishbone / 3-link, coil springs, anti-roll bars
- Brakes, F/R: Ventilated discs 320mm / ventilated discs
- Brake calipers, F/R: 2-piston / 1-piston
- Tyres: 265/60R18