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Driving a workhorse bakkie like the new Mitsubishi Triton single cab, you soon forget about the flashy double cabs and the designer-outdoorsy lifestyles they're often sold with.
It takes you back to the core of what bakkies were created for - a good and solid day's work, keeping the country's economy ticking over one load at a time.
After years of providing one of the cheapest workhorse bakkies around in the form of the Colt, Mitsubishi stepped away from this market when the Triton was launched back in 2007. But now the workhorse is back under the brand's latest dispensation and, naturally, it forms part of the Triton range.
As a worker it's certainly up to the job, with its solid Japanese engineering and one-tonne payload. If you we to nitpick, its rivals are rated for slightly higher payloads - 1115kg in the case of the Hilux, 1077kg for the Ford Ranger and 1200kg for the GWM Steed.
If venturing off the beaten track is on your agenda, you'll be pleased that the Triton has the highest ground clearance in its 4x2 class. It's a true high-rider with its 200mm elevation, only the GWM Steed (198mm) stretches close while the 135mm Ranger and 181mm Hilux look like ground lovers by comparison.
COMFORT AT WORK
The other thing that stands out about the Mitsubishi is that it doesn't skimp on comfort and safety items. Unlike many workhorse packages, the all-important ABS braking system is in place, as are dual airbags. The vehicle also fared well in EuroNCAP's tests, attaining a four star rating for occupant protection.
The pick of the range, in my opinion, is the R189 900 2.4 GLX, which costs R10 000 more than the GL but adds air conditioning, electric windows and central locking. You don't get any of these features in the Toyota Hilux 2.0 S, which costs a few thousand more. Only the GWM Steed 2.4 offers more features (and it costs thirty grand less) but not everyone is up for Chinese takeaways just yet.
Despite the comfort features, the spacious cabin of the GLX still feels very workmanlike with its vinyl bench seat and plastic footwell covering in place of carpeting - which is all good from a durability perspective. However, the angle of the bottom-bench makes it a bit uncomfortable.
On the road, its large dimensions can make manoeuvring a bit tricky, but the large and heavily-assisted steering wheel compensates for this. The steering feels way too numb for my liking though. I felt so divorced from the front wheels that I actually started reminiscing about gaming controllers.
There were no complaints on the performance front, the 97kW/202Nm 2.4-litre petrol motor giving a good kick from low-down and providing more than adequate overall performance for a workhorse.
The ride quality is rather comfortable too, at least by the lower standards by which we judge leaf-sprung bakkies.
If it's diesel-power you're after Mitsubishi does offer a 100kW/314Nm 2.5 DI-D model, but it costs R239 900.
If you're going the Japanese route, the Triton really ticks all the boxes, as long as you're not nitpicking about which has the biggest payload in the category.
It's a solid Japanese option that swallows a ton and offers - if not by the biggest of margins - the best specification package in its class.
The only thing falling slightly short is the after-sales deal. It does have a five-year/75 000km service plan, but this falls slightly short of the Hilux's 90 000km plan. Mitsubishi also has a smaller dealer footprint, although with 47 dealers they do have most corners of the country covered.
Mitsubishi Triton 2.4 GLX (97kW) - R189 900
Ford Ranger 2.5 XL (122kW) - R203 411
GWM Steed 2.4 Lux (100kW) - R159 900
Isuzu KB 240 LE (94kW) - R234 500
Nissan NP300 2.0 SE (84kW) - R194 700
Toyota Hilux 2.0 S (100kW) - R192 500