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GRAN TURISMO CAR REVIEWS

Mitsubishi Pajero Mini

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Year: 1997-1998 
 Country: Japan
 
Class: Kei
Type: Sport Utility Vehicle
 Host: GT2
 
Price: $10,364 (used '97 Mini VR-II)

Length: 129.72" // Width: 54.9" // Height: 66.1"
Wheelbase: 89.34"
Track: 50" front & rear
Overhang: 3' 4"
Ground Clearance: 7.62"
Weight: 2,028 lbs. (VR-II) 2,072 ('98 Mini Sport)
Layout: Front Engine / 4-Wheel Drive
Tires: 175/80 R-15
F. Suspension: Macpherson struts / coils
R. Suspension: 5-link / coils
Brakes: disc / drum
 
Engine: 659 cc SOHC V4
Tested HP: 64 @ 6,400 rpm
Torque: 71 @ 3,000 rpm

 
Lbs. per HP: 31.7 // Hp per liter: 97.1
 
Aspiration: intercooled turbo
Fuel Syst: EGi
Valves / Cyl: 5 (Mini Sport), ? (VR-2)
Bore x Stroke: 2.36 x 2.29"
Compression: 8.5:1
Redline: 7,000 // RPM Limit: 8,000
Transmission: 5-speed manual
 
0-60 mph: 16.6 seconds
0-100mph: 1:04.240
 
400 M: 20.869 @ 65 mph
1 KM: 38.426 @ 85 mph

 
Test Track: 2:29.178
 
Top Speed
1st: 22 mph @ 7,250 rpm
2nd: 38 mph
3rd: 61 mph
4th: 93 mph
5th: 113.50 mph (7,100 rpm)


  

 


EXTERIOR

Who can't resist a spin in this little jeepster-mobile?!? Well, maybe YOU can, but I sure can't! The Pajero Mini is just all about cute, and it must be a blast to drive off-road in real-life. It's a go-anywhere vehicle, and in GT2 this is no exception.
 
Another merit here is the Pajero's oddness, which looks out-of-place amongst the other several hundred automobiles in GT2. Its spare tire, its three mirrors (two are door-mounted, the 3rd is on the hood!), and just over 7 inches of ground clearance. There is nothing else like the Pajero Mini, even amongst Kei cars.
 
And amazingly, we have not one but two versions of this recreational vehicle to toy with in GT2: the Pajero Mini VR-II, and the Pajero Mini Sport. The VR-II can be found only in Mitsubishi's used car lot. Sometimes you won't be able to find any used ones, but the Sport is a (new) '98 model and can be bought at any time for just $13,380. If you stalk the used car lot long enough, it's possible you may have up to three different VR-IIs to choose from at a time. They're apparently as popular as Civics and Silvias. I managed to get a pink one!

The Sport can be had in four colors, plus it weighs 44 pounds more than the VR-II, perhaps due to its DOHC engine. The VR-II is a single overhead cam (SOHC) instead of dual. You shouldn't need any weight reductions for either jeep unless you're desperate to have it win something in which it is aggressively out-classed.
 
Unlike some others Keis, the Pajero Mini can easily be modified at a reasonable price. So let's go do this, now.
 

ENGINE / DRIVETRAIN

I hope some readers appreciate what a task it was trying to drum up info on this machine! After visiting my usual sites (Carfolio.com, Conceptcarz.net, etc.), and then using the search engine, I finally found one website that had almost everything I was looking for! I was just about ready to start bribing for specs!!
 
All Kei cars have little engines that displace no more than 660 ccs, and the Pajero Mini is no exception. As usual, it lacks speed, but its high final gear gives it acceleration that is a bit better than usual. A lot of these Kei vehicles can't top 100 mph, but the Mini makes it to 113.5 with room to spare on the tach, so we're on the right track here.
 
There are 2 levels of intercooled turbos, both are affordable (well, maybe not to a beginner...). The first one for either P. Mini costs just $4,000, and Stage 2 can be affixed for $12,500. Both intercoolers (sport and racing) can be had for just $4,000. Sweet. In the '97 Pajero, you'll have a total of 180 hp when all is said and done, which peaks exactly at the 7,000 rpm redline. The '98 model, oddly, winds up with 175 hp, even though it's supposedly got better airflow with its 5-valve engine.

Either Stage 1 or Stage 2 will keep things moving along during races. In the 98 hp Kei car races, you'll actually have a harder time. Stage 1 turbos can't be used if you also bought balancing and port/polish, since power will be 101 hp minimum, so you'll be stuck driving with just over 70 hp assuming you've got racing aspiration parts. You can still win these two races, but you won't be able to rely on power so much.
 
Anyways, this fun little jeepster will kick some major ass in the Sunday Cup, Clubman Cup, Compact Car series, all B-license nationals, and some of the As as well. That's a pretty darn good rap sheet! Below 4,000 rpms, the engine lacks torque, but if it's revved at about this range at the start of any race, its starting potential can be maximized, since it features 4WD. Real-life Mini Pajeros have shift-on-the-fly 4-wheel drive, but we can assume that the game car is always in 4x4 mode.
 
Stock tranny parts can be used for most races, switching to a close-ratio gearbox at Tahiti or Rome Short or some other such smaller track. At a track like Red Rock Speedway or Mid-field, the engine will hit its limit at the very end of the straight with stock parts, so some may want to get a full-racing gearbox, but it's not fully necessary.

Limited-slip diffs and traction controls, on the other hand, will never be necessary. Brake upgrades (including the controller) should be used for those who really want to get serious, to keep this boxy vehicle trail-braking without too much twisty movement into tight corners. 
 
A fully-modified engine with stock gearing will hit 60 mph in 7.8 seconds and top off at about 128 mph (7,750 rpm) in 5th gear. But that's not the only reason you'll win. Oh really? Why else?
 

CHASSIS / DRIVETRAIN

With Sport tires, Sport or Semi-racing suspension, and appropriate brake settings for your style of racing, the Pajero becomes a little racing tiger!

Even though we can only lower this RV to 5.86" with semi-racing equipment (full-racing parts will get you down to about 5 ), and the jeep still leans a lot during hard cornering, it will grip the road like a leech. This is with full engine tuning, too! Now add some slicks (the medium-grade ones seem to do best..soft and super-softs are too sticky...for me, anyways) and you'll be sure to blow away cars with more power.
 
The cornering of the P. Mini is amazing. Brakes can be applied minimally, understeer is short-lived, even when the driver forgets to brake earlier into corners. Throttle-induced oversteer occurs, but it will be of the helpful kind. The kind that lets you position the Pajero mid-corner perfectly, allowing you to plant the accelerator early. The kind that owns and kicks ass!
 
Drifting in a Pajero is fun, but this vehicle is at its best when choosing a good racing line thru corners and sticking to it. This jeepster's tiny dimensions allow one to use a lot of cornering area, assuming the Pajero Mini is ahead of the pack. This is why the Pajero will barely need brakes, and will spend most of its time in turns accelerating out of them! The Pajero (because it's so small) will usually have plenty of space to work its way thru any competition if it happens to be IN the pack. It's a win/win situation for those drivers who are skillful enough.

Artificial Intelligence drivers, on the other hand (Skylines, Fiat Coupes, Plymouth PT's...you name it) will be pissed to be passed up by the Pajero Mini, which is always fun!
 

pink_pajero_rear.jpg


PROS----------------------------------------------------

1). Light weight. Reductions not necessary.
 
2). Affordable to all!
 
3). Two levels of intercooled turbo...and both of them give us a nice range of power, all of which is affordably priced to an intermediate. Acceleration becomes surprisingly on-par when compared to cars with larger engines.
 
4). Amazing handling and manueverability, plus the high amount of modified power which can be bought from RalliArt should guarantee many wins in free, B, and some A-license races.
 
5). Several different colors available. Used and new versions available. Unique looks within the game.
 
6). Good tires. Sports can be used even with full tuning if you're good at choosing racing lines. Medium slicks are like icing on the cake. Unrealistic, but hey...

7). The used Pajero Mini VR-II is common enough that we won't have to spend major time looking for one. The Mini Sport is a "new" vehicle, can be bought at any time.
 
8). Isn't it FUN racing a jeep on tarmac? ;-)

9). Barbie-pink version of the VR-II can be had for those persistent enough
at looking for it!
 

CONS--------------------------------------------

1). Power is ultimately limited to 175 or 180 hp. This is still excellent within reason, though.
 
2). 4th gear is a bit tall. Close ratio gears will solve this, but can only be used on certain courses with limited range of power available.
 
3). In the wrong hands, the Pajero Mini will spin out easily in hard corners...but this is really just a warning to absolute novice dummies!
 
4). Some may find these too goofy, wondering why they're in a racing sim.
 
5). Light weight, true...but these are on the heavy side when compared to other Keis. No racing kits, either.

6). Low torque engine.

7). Aerodynamics of a milk carton.
 

Originally Published September 16, 2004
 


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