Beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder. What’s beautiful for you might not necessarily be the same for others, which is the same for vehicles. While some dig that “stock look,” some would want to do something to their personal cars to make them better or set them apart from the others.
Mitsubishi seems to understand the Filipino car owners’ penchant for dressing up their vehicles, and among the common updates done to their steeds, Pinoys seem to enjoy blacking out panels. And so, MMPC made special “Black Series” versions of its offerings, like the very popular Montero Sport that I got to drive around for a week.
First up, the Montero Sport Black Series is a souped-up white or black GLS 2WD A/T variant. Outside, you’ll see the Dynamic Shield fascia has been blacked out, which means the grille and the front bumper garnish ditch their chrome and body-colored accents, respectively. The same goes for the 18-inch wheels, the roof, the roof rails, and the rear bumper garnish.
It makes great sense if you get the white Black Series variant, as verified by the countless stares I got while driving around. You may feel shortchanged getting the one in black, since the changes on the roof and the bumper garnishes are kind of muted.
The insides are pretty much unchanged, as it looks exactly how a GLS 2WD AT would. The only notable change is the LCD instrument meter display (which only the GT 4WD AT variant used to have). Most of the other additions can’t be seen, including four more airbags, a power liftgate, and the Nanoe filtering system on the air-conditioning unit.
As for the driving experience, I have a friend who owns a pre-facelift Montero Sport, and I must say the driving feel is relatively the same. After all, the 2.4-liter 4N15 engine and the eight-speed automatic have been carried over with no revisions, which isn’t a bad thing at all.
The acceleration is there, but the shifts are rather smooth. To be honest, I am not a fan of transmissions with more than six forward gears. I think that they tend to hunt for gears far more often. But the Montero Sport’s transmission makes good use of the power while putting it on the rear wheels rather smoothly. The fuel economy is pretty good, too, allowing me to do 9km/L in the city and 18km/L on the highway.
The same can be said with the suspension. It is one of the more comfortable midsize SUVs to be in. Most road imperfections are ironed out completely while giving you a great feel of the road under.
Inside, there’s enough room to carry seven people. However, the dashboard’s design makes it feel a little more cramped than it is. The driving position is a bit awkward. Even with the driver’s seat at its lowest setting, there’s this weird feeling that the roof gets in the way of your vision. And I’m not even taller than the average guy, but perhaps it is just me as my 6′ friend didn’t seem to have issues with his vehicle.
I particularly loved the improved audio system of the face-lifted Montero Sport. What used to be a tinny-sounding system is now way better. There’s smartphone integration software like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
I especially love the HDMI input and the navigation system that seems to know even the tiniest details on our roads (like refueling stations) and other things you’d want to find. This also serves as the display for the Multi Around Monitor, which is Mitsubishi-speak for a 360° camera system. Too bad the tire-pressure monitoring system of the old unit is gone.
When it comes to safety, I like this SUV a lot. Driving on long trips should be fine, especially since it comes with adaptive cruise control. It also has stability control, hill-start assist, trailer stability assist, antilock brakes, forward collision mitigation, and the Ultrasonic Misacceleration Mitigation System, which keeps the SUV from being “possessed” (quit it, SUA believers).
But there are still things that Mitsubishi could have improved further with the Montero Sport.
The third-row seats, for one, aren’t as comfortable to sit on as the others. Stowing it for more cargo is a bit trickier, too, as you need to tinker with the actual seats before folding the backrests down.
Well, at least the seats fold flat, unlike those in the Fortuner. The anti-SUA systems can be a little too sensitive, which I think was made that way to prevent people from crashing into others because of their incompetence (and blame the vehicle after).
And this might be nitpicking, but I don’t like how one of the dials in the HVAC controls kind of covers some of the other buttons. Plus, the illumination on these can be quite weak, making it hard to see which ones to press for the desired climate setting.
The Montero Sport has always been a great midsize SUV to have. And that’s probably the reason why it has been one of the better-selling models in Mitsubishi’s stable. And with spruced-up looks, the owner won’t have to go to his favorite Banawe car accessories shop just to ruin its edgy lines.
Given the tasty set of visual upgrades rounding up a great daily-driver and a rather competitive P2,025,000 price tag, it’s one of the best mid-high variants that you can find. And if only for those, the Montero Sport Black Series makes a lot of sense.
MITSUBISHI MONTERO SPORT BLACK SERIES
|2.4-liter in-line-four turbodiesel
|179hp @ 3,500rpm
|430Nm @ 2,500rpm
|4,825mm x 1,815mm x 1,835mm
|Great driving dynamics, good drivetrain performance and efficiency, and tasteful exterior updates.
|There are some minor ergonomic issues within the cabin.