Mitsubishi has relaunched its Challenger with lots of extras and plenty of safety features that will surprise and delight even hard-core four-wheel-drive enthusiasts.

Story By Ian Glover

No need to remember when, ’cause everything old is new again, Peter Allen’s lyrics went. ‘When’ was between 1998 and 2006 – the period when Mitsubishi sold the Challenger in Australia. And now it’s back.
As before, the underpinnings derive from the Triton, with which it shares the 2.5-litre intercooled common rail-turbo diesel; a great, willing engine that develops 131kW and 400Nm (in the five-speed manual; this drops to 350Nm in the pick of the transmissions – the five-speed Sports Mode, which can be used like a manual). There are five variants in the range, which has a starting price of $44,490 for the workhorse LS manual and tops out at $58,890 for the XLS seven-seat auto. While empty-nesters will obviously go for the cost savings inherent in sticking with the standard five seats, giving them more luggage space for grey-nomadic touring, younger buyers who’ll use the Challenger as a soccer sled will appreciate the availability of extra accommodation.
For the money, in all grades, the Challenger is very well-specced. The base LS has lots of goodies such as climate and cruise control, power windows, remote central locking, MP3 connectivity, 17-inch alloy wheels (with a full-size alloy spare), a rear diff lock and lots more ‘fruit’ modern buyers have come to expect. Upgrading to XLS spec gets the buyer leather seats (the driver’s has power adjustments), a premium sound system, sat nav, reversing camera, Bluetooth connectivity and rear proximity sensors.
Safety features aren’t ignored either. Both variants not only have driver and passenger airbags, but side and curtain bags as well, plus anti-lock braking – actually a component of what the company calls Mitsubishi All Terrain Technology (MATT). Contemporary automotive companies just love acronyms, and Mits is no exception. MATT is a package also comprising stability control, traction control, EBD and the Super Select drive system. Pioneered in the Pajero, Super Select allows the driver to select low-range four-wheel-drive, locked centre diff mode for really difficult, slow-speed driving (such as climbing over rock faces on rugged fire trails); high-range four-wheel-drive, locked centre diff mode for higher speed off-road stuff, such as beach driving, where uneven torque distribution may cause axle damage if the centre diff were left open; high-range, four-wheel-drive, open centre diff mode – the one buyers should use all the time on-road because of the safety benefits it confers when driving in rain or on slippery surfaces, particularly unexpected ones; and for the ‘heritage’ drivers who think they’re saving money on fuel by not using four-wheel-drive all the time, there’s rear-wheel-drive mode.

This story excerpt is from Issue #71

Outback Magazine: June/July 2010