Mitsubishi Pajero iO, is a mini Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) which was designed to appeal to youthful drivers who are adventurous and the young married career women.
Pajero iO three door version was produced from 1998 to 2007, while the four door version was sold from 1999-2007. The Pajero IO project sought to produce a better looking mini SUV with chunkier looks.
Its wide, high doors look easy to access which reinforces its appeal as a practical and spacious on and off road ‘go anywhere’ sort of vehicle. The Pajero iO, though out of production, is still sold on the used car market in Uganda.
Mitsubishi pulled all the stops by kitting the Pajero iO with two flagship engine types, the 4G93 1.8 Litre and 4G94 2.0 Litre Gasoline Direct four injection (GDi). This engine technology delivers an improved power output and fuel economy.
GDI system pressurises the petrol and injects it through a common rail fuel line directly into the combustion chamber of each cylinder. This innovation improves fuel efficiency and reduces exhaust emissions.
The 4G93 and 4G94 engines were designed with double overhead camshaft (DOHC) valve train layout which allows less restricted airflow at higher engine speeds.
The DOHC design positions spark plugs at the centre of the cylinder head to improve combustion efficiency.
This innovation gives the Pajero iO ample power to navigate both on and off road terrains with better fuel economy. This is crucial for the cost conscious Ugandan driver.
It should be noted that the smaller 1.8 litre 4G93 can tend to have sluggish starts when fully loaded because it has a lower engine power and torque compared to the 2.0 litre 4594. On the other hand the 4G94 2.0 litre engine powers the four door Pajero IO with more ease and better response.
Whereas the 1.8 Litre engine gives the iO a slightly better fuel economy on the highway, the 2.0 Litre engine uses a lower engine revolution per minute (rpm) curves to attain more power.
This means the 4G94 engine works less harder to deliver better power and torque than its smaller ‘sibbling’ and yet it uses slightly more fuel to get the job done.
The 2.0 litre 4G94 engine is an excellent performer and a suitable choice for the four door mini SUV for highway and off road situations where ample power is needed to overtake or climb over rough terrain.
Handling and driveability
The Pajero io has impressive on and off road driving credentials. The designers combined an articulate suspension system with a robust but intelligent transmission system which adapts effortlessly to the different driving conditions.
It has reasonable handling both on paved highways and gravel countryside roads if driven at speeds between 100 – 120 KPH. Speeds beyond that are uncomfortable and call for sensible driving decisions.
The Pajero iO, like some other mini SUVs, tends to over steer and roll when driving fast through sharp bends on sealed tarmac roads.
This is because of its height, ground clearance and wheel base which affects its centre of gravity. When driving off road Pajero iO proves it is a real tough 4WD with a transfer case, low and high range gears.
Pajero iO is unrivalled in the mini SUV segment as it displays good response to off road conditions. The Pajero iO’s strut suspension, anti-roll bars and rear trailing links provide good off road performance. This is complimented by the intelligent four wheel drive, the super select four (SS4i) gear box.
SS4i provides part time four wheel drive (4WD) 2H or full time 4WD option under 4H. When wheel slip occurs on slippery terrain, the intelligent viscous coupling system automatically engages to overcome the challenge.
Four wheel drive can be selected on the go at speeds up to 100 kilometres per hour. The Pajero iO offers the Ugandan driver the flexibility between urban and country side driving for pleasure or social commitments such as weddings and funerals.
Comfort and safety
Pajero IO is reasonably comfortable and feels safe to drive. The interior is more of plastic but the polyurethane materials are moulded to blend with the chrome spats and fabric seats to make you feel welcome.
Pajero iO offers standard comfort and convenience features such as air conditioning, electric mirrors and windows, audio CD entertainment.
The four door version is spacious and provide sufficient passenger legroom, head room and luggage space.
Safety features on the menu include driver airbag, anti locking brakes – ABS, side intrusion beams and retracting inertia reel seatbelts. Not bad for a limited budget.
Reliability, resale value
The used Pajero iOs from Japan are usually imported at mileages above or just shy of 100,000 kilometres.
If you are lucky to inherit a car with good service history, then you will enjoy the car.
However, it is important to note that Mitsubishi’s GDI engine like Toyota’s D4, VW’s FSI and Mercedes CGI are designed to give you excellent fuel economy and improved performance.
The downside is gasoline direct injection fuel systems rely on clean gasoline fuel and timely replacement of the fuel filter to protect the sensitive high pressure fuel pump and injectors.
Short of a strict maintenance regime this engine like the others, will suffer a breakdown of the sensitive fuel components mentioned. The delivery of fuel directly into the combustion chamber creates new lubricating challenges and requirements.
You need to service the engine with oil which is formulated with anti-sludge or deposit formation properties, as well as providing protection over the duration of the oil drain.
It is recommended to follow the manufacturer’s guideline on choice of engine oil and use of fuel with cleaning additives to prevent deposit damage of fuel pumps and injectors.
The engine is intolerant to a delay in engine oil changes and use of cheap non recommended oil grades. Where in doubt use the more expensive fully synthetic 5W30 engine oil which is available in Uganda to avoid damage of engine piston rings. Renew the timing belt on time.
The air flow meter will fail if you do not regularly replace the air cleaner and that will cause poor engine performance.
However the Pajero iO’s high maintenance standard should not be a show stopper. Do the right thing and enjoy the car, like all other kinds of cars on the road.
Mitsubishi has a main parts dealer as well as smaller independent parts shops which stock fast maintenance parts and makes it easier to maintain the iO.
Pajero iO 1.8L (4G93) Pajero iO 2.0L (4G94)
Year of manufacture
1998 - 2007 1999- 2007
Engine size cubic capacity:
1,834 L4, DOHC 16V GDI 1,999 / L4 DOHC 16V GDI
96KW / 129 HP @ 6,000 rpm 106KW / 145 HP @ 5,200 rpm
Acceleration (0-100kph) sec:
14 seconds 12
Fuel economy (highway):
13.6km / Litre 13km / Litre
Cost price for used :