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The latest model in the popular Pajero series, the Pajero iO, hit the market Monday.

The Pajero iO is powered by a 1.8-liter economical and environmentally friendly gasoline direct injection engine (GDI), Mitsubishi Motors Corp. said. The four-wheel drive sport utility vehicle comes with a new GDI-ECO indicator that signals when it is being driven in an economical manner, the company said.

Sales are targeted at 2,200 units a month; the price ranges between 1.59 million yen and 1.87 million yen.

The Pajero iO is a medium-class vehicle between Pajero’s large class and mini-vehicle segments. The debut of MMC’s Pajero series in 1982 is believed to have triggered the recent popularity of multipurpose vehicles.

MMC, which has signed a cooperative agreement with Industrie Pininfarina SpA, an auto manufacturer in Italy, will produce the vehicles at the Italian firm’s plant for the European market starting in 1999.

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