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 Canada and the Middle East, Shogun Sport in the United Kingdom, and Strada G-Wagon in Thailand. 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. In Japan, it was sold at a specific retail chain called Car Plaza. The North American market received petrol V6 engines during all years of production while a petrol 2.