Production began in Japan in 1996, and was available for most export markets by 1997, where it was variously known as the Challenger, Pajero Sport in Europe, Montero Sport in North America, South America and the Philippines, Nativa in parts of Latin America, the Caribbean and the Middle East, Shogun Sport in the United Kingdom, and Strada G-Wagon in Thailand. Based on the Mitsubishi Strada pickup truck of the same vintage, sharing many components and some body panels (i.e. front doors), the first generation Pajero Sport (Challenger) was also built on the second generation Pajero wheelbase, and served as a junior model to the larger Pajero.
Like the Pajero, it featured independent front suspension with torsion bars and a live rear axle. In addition to numerous face lifts over the years, there was a major suspension change from rear leaf to coil springs in late 2000. As its popularity increased, local assembly for foreign markets was introduced in China in 2003, and Brazil in 2006. Sales were discontinued in Japan in 2003, in North America in 2004 (where it was superseded by the Endeavor), and central and western Europe in 2008. In Japan, it was sold at a specific retail chain called Car Plaza.
The 3-liter V6 is the most commonly used engine; it produces 175 hp (130 kW; 177 PS) at 5,000 rpm. The North American market received petrol V6 engines during all years of production while a petrol 2.4 liter engine was offered on base models from 1997 through 1999. Markets outside of North America also had a variety of turbodiesel inline-fours to choose between.
The second generation of the vehicle, based on the ladder frame chassis of the Mitsubishi Triton, was gradually introduced to selected markets (Russia, South-East Asia and the Middle East) through the autumn of 2008, following its debut at the Moscow Auto Salon. 2.5 or 3.2 litre diesel and 3.0 or 3.5 litre V6 petrol engines are available as before, while five- or seven-seat interior configurations are offered. As with the Triton pick-up on which it is based, production of the new Pajero Sport for all markets is concentrated in Thailand.
In the Philippines and in Mexico, Mitsubishi Challenger is officially named as Mitsubishi Montero Sport. The Mitsubishi Montero Sport is available in seven variants: GLX-V 4x2 (5-speed Manual), GLS-V 4x2 (5-speed Automatic), GLS-V 4x4 (5-speed Manual), GT-V 4x4 (5-speed Automatic) all equipped with Variable geometry turbocharger giving maximum output of 178 hp and 350 Nm (Automatic) or 400 Nm (Manual) of Torque. Also offered are non-VGT variants GLX 4x2 (5-speed Manual), GLX 4x2 (5-speed Automatic) & GLS 3.0 V6 Gasoline (5-speed Automatic). The Montero Sport mainly competes with the Toyota Fortuner and Chevrolet Trailblazer in the Philippines and several other markets.
In India, Mitsubishi Challenger is sold under the name Mitsubishi Pajero Sport. It is equipped with 2.5-litre 16 Valve intercooled turbocharged DOHC diesel engine giving a maximum output of 175 bhp and 400Nm of torque. It weighs 2065 kg and gives out a mileage of 12kmpl. It sold with a price tag of INR 23.12 lakhs.
In Bangladesh, Mitsubishi Challenger is assembled by state-owned automotive industry Pragoti and sold under the name Mitsubishi Pajero Sport.
In 2011, Montero Sport owners in the Philippines reported that their vehicles suffered from sudden unintended acceleration. Mitsubishi Motors Philippines later responded with a statement saying that they conducted tests on the Montero Sport's electrical systems and found no problems; furthermore, they stated that the accidents related to the issue were more likely caused by human error. Owners of Montero Sports affected by the sudden unintended acceleration issue plan to file a class action lawsuit against Mitsubishi Motors Philippines. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) opened an investigation panel to probe the accidents and complaints from 2010 to 2015, and will recommend either a product recall or a total sales ban on the Montero Sport in the country.
In August 1, 2015, Mitsubishi Motors unveiled the third generation of the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport in Thailand and would be released as 2016 model year and would be powered by the new 4N15 2.4L MIVEC engine. Since the third generation was unveiled, it has no longer used the Challenger name, and used Pajero Sport/Montero Sport name instead.
For Indonesian market, the all-new third generation Pajero Sport was launched on January 29, 2016 in Jakarta, Indonesia, and was built in and imported from Thailand. The third generation Pajero Sport will be built and assembled soon at the new Mitsubishi Cikarang plant in Bekasi, West Java, Indonesia, in April 2017.
The Pajero Sport/Montero Sport has 3 engine options. The old 4D56 MIVEC produce 136 PS and 314 NM (GLX Variant in Indonesia) and 4N15 MIVEC with Variable Geometry Turbo producing 181 PS and 430 NM (Dakar Variant in Indonesia and All Variants in Thailand and Philippines.)
In Philippine Market, it is known as the Montero Sport. As a mass market vehicle, it has added a lot of features compared to its predecessor. Features are the Alloy Lightweight 4N15 which has a first-time Variable Valve Timing Technology used in a Diesel Powerplant. Safety features are Mitsubishi Active Stability And Traction Control, Forward Collision Mitigation, Blind Spot Warning, 7 SRS Airbags, Ultrasonic Missacceleration Mitigation System and Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution which results to a 5 star crash ratings from ANCAP and Latin NCAP.
In Qatar and Middle East, it is available with a 6B31 3.0 V6 Petrol Version. Soon will also be available in India and North America and rumors that it will also reach in the USA.
Also another feature of it is the Aisin 8 Speed Automatic which will improve fuel efficiency and not sacrificing in-gear acceleration and also available with 6 Speed Manual. Other goodies include Sunroof, Dual Zone Auto Airconditioning System, Electric Seats, Leather Contoured Seats with Multi-Layer Cushioning, All Around Monitor, All Around Sensors, 7 Seating Capacity, G-Sensors, Multi-Info Display, AVT/Google CarPlay and Android Auto Touchscreen with Navigation, 6" Two-Piston Front Ventilated Disc Brakes and 6” Solid Disc Brakes.
It is also has a lighter body compared to the predecessor because of the usage of CF Plastics which are tough and lightweight and with the help of the 4N15 Lightweight Alloy Block, the whole body has a low center of gravity.