Sir not to forget Mitsubishi has a record of seven straight wins at DAKAR '01-'07, and another five wins '85, '92, '93, '97 and '98. Making a total of twelve! And unfortunately, Toyota has none!
I admit that a 4x4 carrying Mitsubishi Pajero tag won many Dakar Rallies (I am not sure about numbers but I take your word for it) but the question is whether the Pajeros launched for domestic use have any of those endurance qualities.
The vehicles that we are discussing here are mainly 4D56 and 4M40 (2500 and 2800cc Pajeros built till late 90s), leave winning a rally, these Pajero engines, especially with manual transmission; do not have the endurance to maintain 120 for 360 kms on motorway. Automatic transmission Pajeros have a much better record in this regard but the point is that whether the endurance and off road performance of a Pajero can be compared with the 4x4s made by Toyota during that era. My argument is that Toyota is better because Toyotas as compared to Pajeros have the capacity to withstand more abuse and it is my experiance that anything a Pajero can do, Toyota would do it quicker and with comparative ease.
In the later models again Toyota is better because Toyota improved its reliability whereas the Generation III and IV Pajeros are known to habitually develop electrical problems. I bet you would never hear any reliability complaints from Toyota owners.
Just imagine that you need to travel through a desert or mountains, which 4x4 would you choose, the one which is more likely to get you back to civilization or the one which is a little more comfortable but may give up if taken to extremes.
Now the question is that is it still worth buying a Pajero, my answer is "absolutely YES", but the reason for that is not because it can out perform Toyota's 4x4s but because it so damn cheap. You can get a 4D56 for the price of Mehran-Alto and a 4M40 for the price of Alto-Cultus, so why not buy a Pajero and enjoy part time off roading. As said earlier by some other person, if you do not abuse a Pajero i.e. don’t take it to extremes, it is likely to serve you quite faithfully.
As regards Dakar Rally, I have no idea why Toyota opted not to compete; however, it is my guess that probably after the out right sucess of 40 series, Toyota had millions of satisfied customers and had nothing new to prove, whereas, in early 1980s, Pajero was an unknown brand and required advertisment, hence a good reason to enter that rally.
Mitsubishi invested millions to sponsor a set of vehicles to advertise the off road capabilities of Pajero, yet, what they sold to public was 4D56, an underpowered, part time off roader.
You cannot disagree that two of the world’s best off road vehicles are LR Defender and Jeep Wrangler. I cannot remember any of these two entering the Dakar either, at least not at the Manufacturer's level. Even if they have, because my knowledge on Dakar is limited, they never won. Does it mean that LR Defender or Jeep Wrangler are worst off roaders than Pajero. In my opinion only those companies enter rallies that have something new to claim, like ever since BMW and VW launched their off roaders, they are in Dakar.
Let me give you another example, Citron is currently dominating WRC, can you say Citron is better than all cars, no, absolutely not. So, winning Dakar for many years cannot be the benchmark for Pajeros off road capability.
Here I am attaching two more pictures; the first is of Mitsu_Man's Pajero that could not pass a small mud patch during the reccee session before the Jhal Magsi Rally 2008. Mind you, Mitsu Man's Pajero was fine working order and had no technical/4x4 issues. The second picture shows a 90 model TLC 80 that had earlier passed the same portion of mud getting ready to drag Mitsu’s Pajero out. I wonder how Mitsu_Man can call TLCs “an over rated piece of crap”.
If someone wonders from where I am getting the pictures and on the basis of what information am I saying the above, allow me to inform that currently I am a regular member of 3 off road clubs i.e. Punjab Motor Racing Club for 4x4 Rallies around Pakistan, Off Road Adventure (ORAD) of which Mitsu_Man is a member too and we do off roading in mountains and deserts and the third club is 4x4 Engaged? under which we are mainly doing mudding, water fording, obstacles etc. In PMRC I have had the experience of high speed 4x4 racing, ORAD gives the experience of traveling in a group of 8/10 different 4x4s for days covering thousands of kms, thus giving insight into each vehicle’s performance/endurance under different conditions and the 4x4 Engaged? gave me the knowledge of how different vehicles perform in extreme 4x4 conditions/obstacles.
Furthermore, currently not being the owner of a Toyota or Mitsubishi, but rather a Defender and 3 Jimnys, my opinion is not biased. I like Toyota's 4x4s as well as Pajero, but for different reasons, however, keeping aside the price, and discussing performance only, m
y conclusion is that in year to year comparison, although Pajero is good for its value, but, in extreme off road conditions, is much inferior to the 4x4s of Toyota.
Tomorrow I am leaving for a joint off road trip of ORAD and 4x4 Engaged? Wont be able to respond to any replies till Monday.
@ Mitsu, This was my second reply, looking forward to your reply again. Dont loose heart, I have some more pics of the Mighty Pajeros