The Pinin Pajero’s cabin became unstable in the frontal impact. The screen pillar on the driver’s side was pushed backwards and the B-pillar twisted. Impact forces fed through to the passenger’s chest were high, increasing his chances of injury, while the driver risked leg and feet injuries. Protection in the side impact was good, though. The younger child risked chest and neck injuries in the frontal impact but the child restraints otherwise worked reasonably. But safeguards for pedestrians were dreadful.
The restraints and airbags worked well to protect the driver but the steering wheel was pushed upwards, adding to the risk of injury. Forces acting on the passenger’s chest were very high. Mitsubishi told Euro NCAP that the vehicle’s front belts were load limited but there was no sign of them functioning during the test. Hard points behind the fascia increased leg and feet injury risks for the driver as did the ruptured footwell and the distance that the brake pedal was pushed back. The plastic moulding over the outer seat back fractured where the seat belt loaded it and could damage the belt. Mitsubishi says this will be corrected on ’04 model year vehicles. This is a four-seater so no centre rear belt is provided.
The high-set seats and the vehicle’s height helped keep occupants away from harm. The seat-mounted thorax airbags also reduced risks.
Mitsubishi recommended forward-facing restraints for both children. In the frontal impact, both were protected, but the younger child suffered high chest and neck loads. In the side impact, the older child risked head injuries. A warning against placing a child in a rear-facing restraint opposite an airbag was given in three languages but none was native to the country where Euro NCAP bought the vehicle. Mitsubishi said that this would be put right.
The Pajero came close to scoring no points and no stars. Of all the areas tested only one site on the bonnet gave any cushioning at all for a pedestrian in a collision. Euro NCAP criticised this poor showing and has urged Mitsubishi to do more to protect pedestrians.