Monday, November 9, 2015

First Drive: 2016 Mitsubishi Montero Sport GT-Premium (w/ Video)

Photos by Ulysses Ang
You can’t help but think that all this talk about Dynamic Shield design and Mitsubishi’s SUV vision at the 44th Tokyo Motor Show only served as previews to the main event: the 2016 Montero Sport. Forget the glitz and the glamour of the concept cars and JDM models—this is the one of the most important and most awaited cars of 2016. After a two-hour bus ride to Fujinomiya, a small town near Mt. Fuji, a fleet of Montero Sports stood proud. Contrary to other media drive events, there were no rules here. As long as non-drivers stayed away from the track, you can flog it as hard as you’d like. Flogged it everyone did and everything is right with the world.

Understanding very well that the PPV or the Pickup-based Passenger Vehicle has come a long way since the early 2000’s and that it’s a fundamental part of Mitsubishi Motors Philippines’s product lineup, the 2016 Montero Sport brings the big guns to this fight. The biggest one is the all-new 2.4-liter turbo diesel engine dubbed the 4N15. Serving as a replacement to the long serving 4D56, it makes the 2016 Montero Sport the first PPV to be Euro-4 compliant for its January launch in the Philippines. Although the 181 horsepower and 430 Nm of torque output isn’t enough to win it in outright spec sheet power, the addition of MIVEC does mean excellent real world drivability. It features a unique two-peak power/torque curve with 161 horses available at 2,800 rpm before kicking up to full power at 3,500 rpm. It’s the same with the torque where 400 Nm is delivered at 1,500 rpm before peaking once more at 2,500 rpm. Combined with the engine’s (and the vehicle’s) lower weight, 0-100 km/h comes in around 11 seconds—or just as fast as another PPV boasting 200 horsepower from its 3.2-liter inline-5. And unlike that other PPV, the Montero Sport’s regenerative braking system allows for a 17 percent improvement in fuel efficiency along with CO2 emissions that dip below 200g/km—the lowest in its class.



Mated to the engine is an Aisin-sourced 8-speed automatic—the first for Mitsubishi which allows the engine to work much more efficiently and effectively across a wider rev range. It has an idling neutral control that reduces internal energy loses caused by the torque converter when the vehicle is stationary in Drive improving fuel consumption when stuck in traffic. Moreover, it has paddle shifters allowing the driver to change gears at any time without removing his hands from the steering wheel.

Using Mitsubishi’s vast motorsports experience, the 2016 Montero Sport lives up the ‘Sport’ part of its name thanks to the Super Select 4WD-II system allowing it shift between different drive modes. Together with a center differential, it has a default front-to-rear torque split of 40/60. It has four modes: 2H (for dry tarmac), 4H (dirt and roads covered in rain), and two modes that lock the center differential: 4HLc (sand and snow), and 4LLc (mud and rock). Adding to its sure-footedness is the addition of Off-road Mode Selector with four pre-configured modes: Gravel, Mud/Snow, Sand, and Rock which alters engine, transmission, and brakes to control the amount of tire slip maximizing performance. A rear locking differential adds further to its off-road credentials.



Aside from the drivetrain itself, another aspect that’s going to win fans over is the Montero Sport’s head-turning good looks. Using the new Dynamic Shield front fascia design, it looks more like a concept car rather than a production vehicle. The wrap-around front bumpers and integrated skid plate give it its unmistakable mecha-like appearance while the chrome-trimmed grille exudes a high-end feel. On the highest-end model, it comes with LED headlights and LED daytime running lights to give it an even more advanced looking design. The side, offers a strong character line that stretches from the headlight to the rear fenders. Together with the high beltline, it gives a clean and sleek look. The rear portion though is perhaps the most controversial with the drooping LED tail lights. Nonetheless, it’s been done to achieve an immediately identifiable lighting signature without sacrificing the tailgate size—it’s one of the largest in its class. All models are fitted with 18-inch alloy wheels (265/60R18 tires) with the higher-trim models given a two-tone turbine design.

At the Fujigane Off-road Course, the Montero Sport was put to the test through a terrain filled with boulders, moguls, and sandy roads. Climbing aboard the Philippine-spec model is quite easy thanks to the pillar-mounted assist grips (it’s standard for the first two rows). Getting the optimal driving position is easy as well thanks to the powered driver’s seat and the tilt/telescopic steering wheel. With the exception of hefty climb aboard the cabin, the interior pretty much passes for a passenger car; a sporty passenger car at that. The black monotone interior means business and is solidly finished throughout. The gamut of controls are all logically placed and properly positioned for easy reach and operation. The high-contrast instrument cluster provides excellent clarity while the full-color central LCD display shows all of the necessary information, including four-wheel drive operation, without cluttering the dashboard. The new front seats too are designed with multi-layer cushioning that give great lumbar and lateral support. It’s most apparent in the shoulder area where the sculpted sides give better upper torso area.  The second row seats also offer individual headrests for three adults and a reclining function for a more relaxing ride. With a class-leading wheelbase of 2,585 millimeters, even the third row seats offer ample head and knee room. In addition, the second row seats tumble forward and the third row seats fold using a double-action mechanism to create a flat loading bay that stretches up to the back of the front seats.



Setting off, the most noticeable aspect is the refinement of the new 4N15. It can easily match the Montero Sport’s 3.0-liter V6 gasoline variant (it won’t be sold in the Philippines) while delivering satisfying grunt even from a standstill. Keeping the 4WD system in 4HLc (Gravel), it climbed up with gusto. From the fine gravel portion, the terrain soon turned extremely rocky. It rode excellently, absorbing the undulating ruts thanks to its re-designed suspension. Various improvements have been done to the Independent Double Wishbone and 3-Link rear coil spring suspension particularly in the form of a revised geometry, thicker front sway bars, and new rear suspension and lateral rod mounts. Maneuvering through the purposely tight course proved easy as well because of the class-leading turning radius: 5.6 meters. What’s more, the lower steering ratio and reduced turns lock-to-lock give even better drivability.

After crawling through the rocky portion of the track and sawing the steering through the tight left-right-left portions of the uphill climb, it’s time to go down a steeply graded hill. With larger two-piston front ventilated discs and solid rear discs, the Montero Sport felt surefooted. Though experts could properly modulate the middle pedal to their liking, the 2016 model now comes equipped with a Hill Descent Control system which keeps the speed at a constant 2 to 20 km/h (speed is adjusted via the throttle pedal) allowing you to concentrate on steering. Furthermore, Hill Start Assist allows you to start up inclines without the danger of having it roll backward. A switch-operated electric parking brake also replaces the conventional handbrake.



Keeping the same 218 millimeters of ground clearance as well as 30-degree approach, 24-degree departure, and 23-degree ramp break-over made the final part of the test track a piece of cake. The carved mogul field proved no match for the Montero Sport as it easily navigated through it. The excellent visibility, tight maneuverability, and long stroke suspension allowed it to keep going. And even if one wheel did leave the ground, trust on the 4WD system and the new Active Stability & Traction Control to keep you going with confidence. It’s a matter of applying the throttle and having the car do the rest. Though water wading wasn’t tested this day it offers 700 millimeters of flood crossing capability, up 100 millimeters from before.

Considering PPVs are now used by increasingly safety-conscious families, Mitsubishi has made sure to equip the Montero Sport with all sorts of safety features. The usual: dual SRS airbags, anti-lock brakes with EBD, and brake assist are all standard. The highest trim models offer five more airbags, Forward Collision Mitigation (FCM) and Blind Spot Warning system (BSW)—features which are confirmed for the Philippine market. Other advanced features include a passive keyless entry system with push button engine start/stop, a 360-degree view camera, dual zone climate control with independent rear A/C, power folding side mirrors, and many more.



The year 2015 is all about the pickup wars, but 2016 is shaping up to be the year of the PPVs. And it seems Mitsubishi is set to carve up their unique take on this increasingly competitive market segment. Though the final word is up in the air until a local test drive, they look to have a winner here. Not only is the 2016 Mitsubishi Montero Sport look like it’s designed and dressed to the nines, but it’s got an undeniably sporty character. It’s easy to drive and maneuverable without sacrificing interior room and cargo space—making it perfect for Philippine conditions. And if there are any doubts to its handling, Hiroshi Masuoka’s hot laps in a bog-standard Montero Sport proved it can dish out sideways drifting action and rally-style jumps easily.

Mitsubishi Motors Philippines has yet to set a final price for the Montero Sport, but it is expected to see a price increase from the current model. The range-topping GT-Premium is said to cost a tad below the P 2-million mark—something that’s fast becoming the norm given the amount of technologies present. Don’t fret though. They’ve also revealed plans to sell the current body Montero Sport, at least in 2WD guise, alongside this all-new one to give consumers an extremely wide range of choices that suit every need and budget. And that could make the Montero Sport a formidable choice.




68 comments:

  1. this will definitely be on my short list, but i do wish to test drive first the fortuner and everest before making any decisions but, it is a rare instance that a montero is more desirable than that of a current pajero, please be less than 2M around 200k less

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  2. The safety features are impressive. But the exterior design, both front and back, needs getting used to.
    Mitsubishi's plan to retain the old design on some variants is actually it's insecurities
    of the new design's acceptability.

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    1. It's not much on the design. It's because the new Montero Sport has much more equipment/trim. It's actually smart on their part because they can compete in essentially two market segments.

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  3. I hope MMPC really pushes the overlap selling period for both the current and all-new Montero Sport. In addition to that, I hope that period would be ample so consumers could make the right decision on which model (current or all-new) to buy.

    The current Montero Sport exudes ruggedness, while the upcoming model has matured and exhibits elegance.

    Uly, may we know how long is the overlap period planned by MMPC for the Montero Sport? Thank you!

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    1. They didn't say. But the overlap is mainly with the 2WD variants of the current Montero Sport. Likely, the new one will come in with 4WD only initially with 2WD variants to follow probably a few months after.

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    2. Mitsubishi always does that.

      I remember with the current Lancer, they sold the existing model with a premium trim alongside with the older model way back 6 or 7 years ago.

      Well I doubt they moved significant volume with it 6 years ago.

      Lets see how this one plays out.

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  4. According to the sales agent I spoke to yesterday, the 4 x 2 AT variant is priced at 1.68 M and the 4 x 4 just less than 2M.

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    Replies
    1. Afu ku Afu. aHindi ko kaya!!!!!

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    2. toyota must be watching this move to see if they can follow mitsu lead in price increase.

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  5. do they have official safety ratings (at least Japanese NCAP or ANCAP?). how's the side collision protection (e.g. curtain/side airbags or impact beams?). i'm a mitsu guy and i don't like the everest, but they seem to have better safety features even at mid-range (trend). i hope the monterosport matches at least this.

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    Replies
    1. Montero is best in its class in NCAP ratings. They're all 5-star but the Montero edges out the other SUVs in total score.

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  6. Trailblazer is EURO IV Compliant, do your homework

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    Replies
    1. It is in Thailand, but Chevrolet Philippines hasn't mentioned anything about it in their spec sheets.

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    2. Are you suggesting that they don't have the same features or specification with respect to engine?

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    3. Engines can be tuned to suit different market requirements. An engine that's rated as Euro 4 in other countries may not necessarily be Euro 4 rated for us. They have to take into consideration things like fuel quality.

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    4. May do yourhomework ka pang nalalaman

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    5. what a poor kid...

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    6. engine's model will determine if its euro 4 or not, that is why you cannot modify 4d56 euro 2 to become euro 4 someday. they have to replace it with 4n15 to be euro 4. get it?

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    7. tama, so if the car is serving global market, then there should only be one same standard applied for that particular model in the market. what you sell here in the philippines must be almost equally the same sold in europe or else dti will do their homework.

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  7. Mr. Uly, I've read from car magazine articles that SUVs' having a Rear Locking Differential adds up to its off road capabilities. How does a rear locking differential work and what current SUVs aside from this new Montero (among the Trailblazer, Fortuner, Everest) have this feature?

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    Replies
    1. Rear Locking Differential is found only on the Everest aside from the Montero Sport.

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  8. Sir did you get a chance to use the 3rd row seats? Do they fold flat? And do they recline when in use?

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    Replies
    1. They fold flat, yes. And yes, they also recline when in use (limited recline though).

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    2. That might make it the best 3rd row seats among the new ones. Everest is fold flat but fixed position when upright. Fortuner does not fold flat.

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    3. That might make it the best 3rd row seats among the new ones. Everest is fold flat but fixed position when upright. Fortuner does not fold flat.

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  9. will there be a manual transmission with reverse camera?

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  10. sir uly how's the ride quality?

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    Replies
    1. Can't tell much because the handling course is purely off road. Final verdict can only be passed when I get to drive it on our roads.

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    2. Sir Uly,
      Related to the topic of ride quality, please rank the current and upcoming models of compact SUVs. Sorry I have to post it here because I do not know where to post this question. Hope you will give time to answer this. Please also include the luxury brands in another category. Thank you

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  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  12. Exterior looks decent except for those reversed Honda Jazz tail lights. The interior however, looks really bland. The wood panel is tacky as hell.

    You know what, the overall look of this reminds me of the design of Honda. Remove the Mitsubishi badge and this may as well pass as a Honda vehicle, I guess they ran out of ideas and decided to copy another Japanese manufacturer's design.

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  13. Trailblazer is Euro IV Compliant and actually a Euro V compliant. Engine of Trailblazer is made by VM Motori. Check their website.

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  14. Two batteries in the engine compartment?

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    Replies
    1. Pretty interesting observation. We'll check with Mitsubishi if that's the case with our local units.

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  15. Mr Uly,

    Are we getting the 4x2 GT variant?

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  16. Honda Copy, and practically the Pajero is dead

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    Replies
    1. I'm crying 'cause of what you said about d Pajero. T__T

      But I'm not gonna lose hope..

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  17. Everything else I like except the rear. I cannot ride on with the rear design.

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  18. wan lagu aru ababigan na

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  19. Besides performance, safety, and fuel efficienty, the front design is futuristic and the led lights at the rear reminds one of brightly glowing flowing molten lava. This is a great car for the family!

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  20. so how's the ride compared to the new everest?

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  21. It's extremely ugly. It looks like a hearse.

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  22. Front looks like it's from Honda and the rear is just ugly :/

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  23. Can you post specs of the lowest variant and middle? tnx





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  24. Wow I will buy you soon

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  25. is the ride more comfortable than the everest?

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  26. This one still got problem in the 3rd row seating experience (got to asked my friend in Bangkok) just like the Everest & Fortuner. The worst part when I asked the sales in Everest he said "Para sa mga bata lang sir ung sa likod na upuan.", ME: Okay, the other SUV on the right seems to be fitted right on a 5'8" guy like me, which happens to be a Trailblazer. SALES: Hirap yan dito sir. ;-)

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  27. Don't stare at the rims too much, Its going to be around for another 8 years of production.

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  28. I will reserve my comment until the Philippine market is flooded with the all new Montero and the all new Fortuner. You see, the Fortuner has regained the leadership in the SUV category since 2014 and the way it looks this year, it's again a run away winner. And to think that the Fortuner is the oldest SUV among the stable. And again this is scary, the all new Fortuner shares some of its looks with the all new Lexus RX350. That leaves all other SUV's with the old shape!

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  29. The only 4x4 SUV with manual tranny aside from Toyota LC Prado. Will wait 2 more years for a redesigned rear.

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  30. Sir can you comment the recent news about unintended acceleration of Montero sport which happened last Nov 10, 2015 in Bulacan in which the owner and his wife were hurt in that incident . I believe your advice and comment will be very informativetoowners and future buyer of this car tnx for your reply.




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  31. Mitsubishi has been involved in two recall scandals in Japan, because it never wanst to admit that its products have defects. Toyota learned the hard way with its Sudden Unintended Acceleration Scandal, and it's now quick to issue recalls when parts of certain models are discovered to have defects. As for Mitsubishi, it's playing stubborn as usual. Its reputation has gone to hell in the U.S. and is no longer known as a quality brand. Dito lang sila sa Pilipinas nakakauto ng customer. Malakas kasi kay Abnoy.

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    Replies
    1. Right you are. Mitsubishi motors was penalized heavily by the US government for not revealing its factory defects for a period of more than 10 years. That's why that brand has slid in popularity in the western countries. Good for them.

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    2. Eto pa ,igigiit n naman yang US market n yan ,e nasa pinas nga ang pinag uusapan n bentahan , puro yabang lang mga kesyo nasa US na mga eto ,

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  32. Good luck with that front collision mitigating system. Sounds cool but with the driving styles of Filipinos and how our traffic forces you to stay close to other vehicles, this safety feature may just turn out to be annoying, even dangerous as it might always apply the breaks whenever there's bumper to bumper traffic. Acura, Honda's high performance luxury brand, already recalled more than 50,000 of their units with a similar technology because it still gets confused on the road.

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    Replies
    1. ayaw mo nun ,me taga preno ka maski nag ttxt ka , kng ayw mo nian e di wag k bumili , good luck good luck p

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    2. pwede namang i off yong fcm pwedeng i on..

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  33. Get a manual if there's one. This SUV is besieged by numerous complaints about its sudden acceleration. Better safe than sorry.

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  34. Sir uly..may nag copy paste po ng opening remarks nio sa from this review of new montero sport sa OLX.ph po dealer po ata ng mitsubishi. Eto po ang link http://www.olx.ph/i2/item/brand-new-2016-mitsubishi-montero-sports-all-new-body-all-new-engine-ID70sfR.html#:2702416203

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  35. 2 airbags sa 2m or almost 2m na SUV? Lagyan sana nila ng thorax at side curtain airbags. 2m dapat 6 airbags

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    Replies
    1. Ms gt 7 airbags 1.998 m ijo

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  36. Ang problema sa SUV ng Mitsubishi sa US, masikip at mahina yung makina kaya wala ng bumili. Sigurado yung V6 ang sa US.

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    Replies
    1. E bakit kaya pilit ipapasok sa topic yan US n yan , ph market at setting , e e

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  37. Ang design yata ng makina nito inverted parabola?

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