Bitching with the best of them
I'm regularly criticised -- the slings and arrows I endure -- for reviewing only fancy cars. Not true. And I'm not bitchy enough, it seems. Most certainly not true.
Well, maybe I can help disprove both allegations this week. The motor under me was the Mitsubishi Pajero. No, not the plush, huge passenger version. This had two seats, no rear-side windows (panelled instead), with the rest of the interior there for use in your everyday business.
It was a different sort of experience. One that so many ordinary people rehearse every day as they go about their business. This motor, and those made by rivals, provide the wheels for your neighbour employing one or two people, small businesses, farmers and so on. They are often overlooked for what they really do. So much is asked of them. We take them for granted.
It is easy to forget how desperately important it is for so many people to have a reasonably priced workhorse. The Pajero is essentially a tough, highly engineered piece of work.
And I can see why they have upgraded it significantly -- especially in terms of equipment and comfort -- because many a one is looking at the cost of maintaining one of these and a family car.
I have to admit, though, I was keenly disappointed with it at the start. It felt cumbersome, the engine and transmission came across as clunky and I was being bitchy about everything.
One area that drove me mad right up to the end was the appallingly small and feckity little buttons and nomenclatures on the audio. Have a look at that please, Mitsubishi.
The other thing I never got used to -- and this is a backhanded compliment to those who drive motors such as this -- was how short I was of over-the-shoulder visibility. That whole area of your normal rear-side windows is wiped out by the steel panels (otherwise it would cost a fortune).
So I relied like never before on my wing mirrors but had to ask one of my few front-seat passengers to get out and make sure I was reversing safely into a tight spot. My admiration goes out to those who do this on their own every day.
In contrast, going forward evolved into a real pleasure. Initially, I felt there was far too much travel on the clutch and I needed to 'bed in' to the feel of the Pajero. But as we settled, I did a lot more work with it and the edges smoothed out.
They've upped the 3.2-litre engine's performance substantially and I enjoyed finding just what 200bhp under the bonnet really meant on the open road.
The good thing about this is how easily you can shift between two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive without having to stop.
You can do so at up to 100kmh. That is important if you have a big load up or are towing a heavily laden trailer and are suddenly faced with a steep climb.
Then there are lower ratios for the real grunt off-road stuff. I learned a lesson with the latter.
You'd think I'd have got the message by now that no matter what technology is on a motor, unless you have the correct tyres to transfer its benefits, you are looking for trouble.
I should have sensed how soft the ground would be after the rain but oh no! I was in right bitchy humour and wanted to 'put it up' to the Pajero to see just what it could do. Down the slithery lane I ploughed, with the wide-eyed front seat passenger already resigning herself to getting the mobile out for help.
One of the worst feelings behind the wheel is when you know the muck is getting the better of your tyres, regardless of them being powered in four-wheel drive.
But fair play to the technology and my instinct/desperation. I managed to get a bit of momentum on to a dry patch and then reverse like hell back through the muck to terra firma. It was all about momentum but whew, it was close!
Yes, I have my reservations about this but I cannot fault it for sheer capability.
And it will always be remembered for being the motor we were in when another generation of the wider family was announced to us. Such joy.