Betting on Black: Mitsubishi Montero Sport Black Series

To be honest, the Mitsubishi Montero Sport is rarely off the consideration set of people on the lookout for midsize SUVs. Indeed, you leave it out at your peril. Unlike Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates, you absolutely know what you’re getting in the Montero Sport. It’s a solid, value-for-money vehicle – equipped with a robust diesel engine that’s simultaneously peppy and frugal.

There’s the rub for people who are still on the fence about the Montero Sport. I know that some eschew certain models that are popular because they want to go against the grain. So, like some other brands and models I can think of, has the Montero Sport become a victim of its own success?

But I digress. You don’t miss out on a good thing because everyone else is in on the fun, right? Still, Mitsubishi is surely listening to the outliers. Why not shake things up by offering another version of the model?

As the brand has been doing with other models, Mitsubishi rolled out a Black Series version of the Montero Sport at the start of the year. Predicated on the GLS variant of the model, the Black Series is fitted with additional bells and whistles that make it second in the totem pole only to the 4×4 GT.

We start with the exterior accoutrements that earn this Montero Sport the appellation. The White Diamond-colored loaner I tested actually highlighted and magnified the black bits of the model – namely the Dynamic Shield, the 18-inch alloys, front and rear garnish, the roof, and the spoiler. This Black Series is available only in this color and, duh, black.

“Black symbolizes power, elegance and sophistication. With the addition of the Montero Sport in our Black Series collection, we wish to appeal to a market that intends to project the same characteristics, at the same time give them an SUV that is built to handle anything,” said Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corporation President and CEO Takeshi Hara during the product’s introduction.

Powered by the model’s 2.4-liter, in-line, 16-valve DOHC diesel with variable geometry turbo (VGT), and Mitsubishi Innovative Valve timing Electronic Control (MIVEC), the driver can realize the 181ps and 430Nm output promise through an eight-speed automatic with Sport Mode.

Aside from the aesthetic differences versus its brethren GLS 2WD A/T, the Black Series distinguishes itself in terms of safety kitting. It gets six SRS airbags (versus two for the GLS), plus driver-assist and safety systems such as forward collision mitigation, ultrasonic misacceleration mitigation – which the GLS doesn’t get. Add these niceties to adaptive cruise control and active stability and traction control standard on the GLS. Inside, the Black Series boasts a Nanoe-brand ion generator and air cleaning function for its air-conditioning system.

The Black Series takes a page from the GT’s feature set through a power lift tailgate with hands-free function and a responsive LCD instrument meter display.

What I love about SUVs in general is typified by this Mitsubishi model: A high ride height, sweeping views, and a general sense of command and control when you’re on the road. The Montero Sport ride is dampened in front by a double wishbone with coil springs and stabilizer bar, and three-link springs and another stabilizer bar in the rear. What you get is enough insulation from the imperfections (to put it politely) in many of our roads, although things can feel a bit “boaty” at times. Still, put through its paces on a long drive, the vehicle shines on account of a stable ride even at speeds above 100kph, with the engine allowing comfortable overtaking when needed. The aforementioned suite of driver-assist features also contributes to even more confidence.

An 8-inch infotainment display boasts Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility which, if you ask me, is a huge deal – allowing you to seamlessly access your music and do many of the things you usually do (pretty much everything these days) on that smartphone.

You can choose from two looks of the all-digital cluster, and the instrumentation doesn’t feel kitschy at all. To be frank, designers can go overboard with the look and animation potential of this new toy they have at their disposal. Yes, I’ve seen it happen in some brands. There’s a fine line between impressively elegant and, well, garish.

Again, the Black Series represents, for now, the highest variant of the 4×2 Montero Sport that you can buy (at P2.025 million). Someone asked me if it’s worth paying the premium over the standard GLS variant (with a tag of P1.771 million). For the extras you get (along with the additional safety kit), I said yes.

Most definitely.

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