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Off-road icon turns 30.

One of the UAE's best-loved cars, the Pajero, is about to hit the big 30. To mark the occasion, a special birthday party was held by distributor Al Habtoor Motors at the Habtoor Grand Hotel last weekend, where Brazilian 1994 FIFA World Cup winner RomEirio was the guest of honour.

The original Pajero was launched in May 1982, and was Mitsubishi's first four-wheel drive.

Named after a South American wild cat, it has been a big hit across the Middle East, selling thousands every year in the UAECealone.

Amna Sultan Al Habtoor, from Al Habtoor Motors, says there is little sign of that love affair ending.

"The Pajero is one of the icons of the motoring world," she says, adding: "As the years have passed it has been refined, and still holds its head high in the 4x4 'heavy duty' segment.

"It's tough, reliable and capable of handling anything, and I see it lasting for many more years to come."

Her view is echoed by owners of the car, including Andrew Macbeth, who bought his 3.8l V6 in 2010, shortly after arriving in the UAE.

The 25-year-old IT analyst says: "Coming from the UK, where petrol just hit Dhs8 a litre, I knew when I moved to the UAE I had to get a car I could never get back home.

"While it may not compare to some of the V8 behemoths you see around, to someone fresh off the boat from a land where a two-litre is seen as a larger engine, a 3.8l V6 was something unheard of."

He added: "I like how versatile is. It allows me to enjoy my commute in comfort, but then at weekends I can hook up a motorbike trailer, or go dune bashing or camping with loads of gear or seven people on board."

There is, though, one snag. Andrew says: "The main thing that bothers me is how common they are! I am surrounded by them, but I guess it must be for a good reason."

Fellow Pajero owner Lyndsey Thompson, a 34-year-old school teacher, is equally happy with her Pajero, which she bought for features such as the long wheel base and air-con controls in the back. She says: "I love my Pajero as it's handy for collecting the kids with seven seats. It's also great as the petrol tank is on the opposite side to Toyota -- so there is never a big queue for petrol."

Al Habtoor is releasing 200 Limited Edition Pajeros next month, and Amna Sultan Al Habtoor admits she has a soft spot for the car, adding:Ce"I have been in this car all my life, so it holds a special place in my heart."

simon@7days.ae

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Publication:7 Days (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Date:Mar 28, 2012
Words:468
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