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Battle of the big roadies

Size, power, weight… Thunder+ and Pajero have got it all. But read on to know which is a better SUV



Thunder+ vs Pajero There is a massive difference in power between the two cars not only in acceleration but drive-ability as well

If you need the best middle-of-the-road, proper-body-on-ladder-frame SUVs and have a budget of Rs. 20 lakh or less, it’s basically a toss-up between the Endeavour Thunder+ and the Pajero.

There’s no messing around with the square-jawed Endeavour; its blocky lines, large cowl and outsized wheel arches result in an ominous presence. In contrast, the older Pajero is actually more angular and well balanced. Finely executed details like the flared sides add to its allure. The Ford uses a modern common-rail diesel motor which pumps out 153bhp, whereas the Pajero’s basic turbo-diesel is good for 117bhp. The Ford has substantially more pulling power, too. The only advantage the Pajero has over the Ford, on paper at least is the presence of a more sophisticated rear suspension system.

Even if the Ford weighs almost two tons, the good throttle response means it doesn’t feel that way. There is almost no turbo-lag from this mammoth motor, and because of all that torque, there is no need to downshift on the slick Ford gearbox.

Slick gearbox

The Pajero’s gearbox, if anything, is even slicker. And despite being an older motor, the throttle response is surprisingly good. The Pajero scoots forward on a tap of the throttle but it is not as good as the Ford. The gearing is very short to improve the driveability and the flip side is that it runs out of steam fast.

There is a massive difference in power between the two cars not only in acceleration but drive-ability as well. Where the Pajero takes a lengthy 18.8 seconds to reach 100kph from rest, the Thunder+ takes a very brisk 12.9 seconds. On the flip side, the Pajero has much better ride and handling. The steering almost has no slack and is perfectly weighted. Bump absorption is also superb, with poor sections of the road barely registering. Body roll is present, but not threatening. On the other hand, the Ford pitches a fair bit over bad roads, especially at speed and it possesses none of the body control of the Mitsubishi. The handling is also nowhere as polished. The Ford is sometimes reluctant to turn into a corner, and a lot of the blame falls on the rear suspension.

Where the Ford scores over the Pajero is the brakes, the Japanese car’s ABS brakes taking longer to stop. The Ford is the better car to drive off-road though. Much more pulling power and greater ground clearance means you can clamber up pretty much anything. However unlike the Pajero, you can’t shift to four-wheel-drive mode on the fly.

Not much is changed on the inside of the Endeavour Thunder+ but the freshened-up interior offered on the car when the 2.5 motor was launched is comfortable and well-built. It is much more spacious than the Pajero and the front and middle row of seats offer good support. Access to the third row is pretty good and the seat is decent, but there is very little space. In the Pajero, the comfort on the well-contoured front seats is excellent though, better than on the Ford, and you can find a really good driving position. The rear seats are reasonably comfortable, with good support. However, legroom is poor and not as good as the Ford’s. The interiors of the Pajero look like leftovers from a 20-year-old car. The plastic used in the centre console is very poor.

With its modern direct injection motor and substantially taller gearing, fuel economy is no contest, the Ford going 8.8kpl versus 7.7 for Pajero in the city. And the same advantage is maintained on the highway too.Neither of these cars delivers a strong performance in all areas. The older Pajero may have fantastic ride and handling and be really nice to drive but it suffers from an antiquated diesel motor and its interiors are so old they could be retro. Yes, it is reasonably comfortable, the refined diesel is relatively lag-free and it gets the job done. But it can’t stand up to the Ford’s assault. The new 3.0 litre engine has massive power, torque and performance and this is a genuinely fast SUV with little or no fuel penalty. The interiors are spacious and comfortable and the dashboard and plastics have a solid long-lasting feel. It’s also well-equipped and lots of safety and comfort features are standard. However, where the Ford falls short is in the ride and handling department. It doesn’t drive anywhere as well as the Mitsubishi, even feeling sloppy in comparison. The Pajero may be the better drive for sure, but the Ford is the better car and at Rs 18.23 lakh, it is cheaper too.

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