I am no off-road maniac. I am no big automobile junkie either. At best you could call me an armchair critic, especially of our foreign policy, cricket and South Indian food. So what is a retard like me doing in a beast of vehicle like the Pajero?
Well to begin with, it partly has something to do with a condition that I often find myself in and for which my friends no longer have any sympathy for. I am often at the receiving end of two conditions which are contradictory in nature; diarrhoea of words resulting from a constipation of thought. Anyways, to come back to the story, this happened on one rather unusually hot summer evening in Bangalore, when a bunch of friends and I, after a few exhilarating rounds of conversation over beer and seekh kebabs realised that as our domestic lives had taken precedence; our enthusiasm for the unrehearsed, impulsive spur of moment decisions had indeed deteriorated making us nothing more than compulsive creatures of comfort. It looked ominous to all of us that our zing for off-road adventures had taken a detour for the worse.
That evening I also realised alcohol and adrenalin don’t make a great combination. In that gusto to rekindle the passion I called up the good people at Mitsubishi for a test drive of the Pajero. By the time the fun, frolic and passion was over and good old slumber had restored some amount dignity
to my senses and my overworked grey cells, I found myself standing in front of spanking new dual coloured black and silver Pajero. A thousand thoughts crossed my mind in that blink of second, ranging from the totally deranged to what else can I do with this monster. Initially, I did contemplate taking the sales guy back to my apartment, offering him a cup of authentic South Indian filter coffee and politely excusing myself while appreciating him for all the trouble that he had taken. And then I looked at the four wheeled wonder again.
Suddenly, as if I was possessed, there was a rush of adrenalin that surged through my veins energising every single cell in my body, I was there behind the wheel in a flash. I knew, the soft leather on the seat was just the skin of a monster that was about to bare its fangs. Though the dash-board and the ergonomics looked a bit dated, reminiscent of an era when the focus was beneath the boot rather than cosmetics, the front dual airbags and the 3 point Emergency Locking Retractors or ELR seat belts more than made up for the lack of any flamboyance.
The high seat on the road was taken and I was on my way to conquer the highway to hell at least that was the feeling that hurried through my already overloaded synaptic connections as I turned the ignition on. The familiar sound of an all-conquering machine now reverberated through the apartment complex almost bringing everybody and everything to a standstill. Little ‘Ronaldos’ froze in their dribble; little girls seen licking their lollipops were hypnotised, birds stopped flying and it seemed as if the other vehicles were trying to hide behind the pillars much against the wishes of their drivers. Such was the overwhelming presence of the Pajero.
The drive through the streets of a crowded city was a breeze thanks to the beautifully synchronised 5 speed manual gearbox and gear ratios. The 2.8 litre turbo charged inter-cooled diesel engine generates enough torque to handle the toughest city needs; a handy thing given the state of most roads in our cities today. Actually, I was fortunate enough to preview the ‘off-road’ capabilities of the vehicle well within the city itself when I had to wade through half a feet of filth flowing though the lanes of an unfortunate populace. Come to think of it, some of the potholes on our streets could well challenge the craters caused by meteors and perhaps, even win hands down.
In such conditions, the front double wishbone torsion bar with stabiliser bar suspension and the rear 3 link coil spring rigid axle with stabilizer bar suspension proved to be more than adequate in cushioning us inside. But that wasn’t enough of a cushion for my angst against certain despicable authorities for the sad state of our roads. The chassis of the Pajero is the famed reinforced ladder frame which is capable of withstanding the demands of the toughest terrain and believe me, I just happened to witness one such terrain a moment ago. The body roll too is minimised thanks to this solid frame working in tandem with solid suspensions. The result, a smooth ride irrespective of the terrain!
As we drove away from the city, I decided to put the monster to its ultimate test, or at least what I thought would be its ultimate test. Small thinking from a small-minded person you could say. I decided to go off-road when I saw this endless mass of rough country, much to the surprise of our friendly Mitsubishi sales person. There it was; boulders, sand, rocks, a hillock, ditches carved out of the Earth by the elements and a path at best for a road. I thought this is it, let me throw this uncharted terrain at the brute and see how she handles it. Much to my disdain, the Pajero handled it all with maximum ease. The multi-meters including the altimeter, barometer, inclinometer acted more as hindrance to my abilities making me conscious all the while of what I was doing, defying the very purpose of my rather spirited attack on the mean machine.
After a gruelling 30 minutes of pure adrenalin rush, I conceded defeat and also much to the delight of the Mitsubishi sales person, called it quits. The beast had conquered more than just the roads.