QUICK TEST: Mitsubishi Triton 2.5 DI-D 4x4 DC
In the constantly evolving empire of the double cab bakkie, The Mitsubishi Triton is something of a veteran soldier. It's been around since 2007 and only the current Hilux has been on the shelf for longer, albeit the Toyota was given a big facelift in 2011.
The Mitsubishi Triton recently received a nip and tuck of its own, and the refresh included a more efficient new engine and improved value for money.
However, the styling changes are subtle enough to be barely noticeable, which means the Triton retains its banana-like curves that have hardly garnered many nods of approval in traditional bakkie circles. However, word on the street is that the next Triton will have a more conventional, squarer look - although it's not due until next year at the earliest.
Styling aside, the Triton still has the makings of a solid contender and the new 2.5-litre DI-D turbodiesel sweetens the deal somewhat.
MORE GRUNT, LESS THIRST
In the 4x4 model, the smaller motor delivers some impressive gains over the previous 3.2-litre, with maximum power rising from 120kW to 131kW and torque up from 343Nm to a stump-pulling 400Nm.
In the real world, the new motor is a bit laggy, which makes it a little laborious to shunt around urban confines, yet when you work it up the rev range the 2.5 DI-D provides ample grunt and more than holds its own at highway speeds. Though it is more economical than the previous engine - Mitsubishi claims 8.6 l/100km - you'll have to bargain around the 10 l/100km mark in real-world driving.
As modern double cabs are expected to, the Triton impresses as a family vehicle. Rear legroom is ample and the ride quality on everyday surfaces is more than smooth enough - once again, given that it's a bakkie!
Yet while some of its more modern rivals really look the part inside, the Triton's facia appears dated and the silver inlays on the dash appear spray painted.
There's not much lacking in the way of specification and the Triton is kitted with leather seats, climate control, cruise control, a multi-function steering wheel, Bluetooth and voice control.
Given that it's one of the bigger vehicles in its class, parking the Triton can take some getting used to; luckily the steering is rather light - although at higher speeds I didn't like the fact that it feels more lifeless than a gaming joystick.
The Triton still has the makings of a solid worker with its 1000kg payload, something I put to the test with a full load of rubble and soil that I needed to part with. The rear leaf spring suspension took the load in its stride, and the engine pulled the extra weight admirably. I never ended up towing anything during the test period, but Mitsubishi does assure that the Triton 4x4 has a towing capacity of 1500kg, provided you're using a braked trailer.
Take it off the beaten track and the Triton will hold its own, the 4x4 model coming to the party with all the bundu-bashing hardware that you'd expect, including a shift-on-the-fly transfer case with low range.
Although the Triton is still an admirable package, it's starting to look and feel a bit dated next to its main rivals. Luckily, as you'll see in the list below, it is priced comfortably beneath its Japanese rivals - although it's by no means cheap at R419 900.
Still, the Triton is a worthy alternative if you're counting pennies but want to stick to a Japanese bakkie.
Mitsubishi Triton 2.5 DI-D 4x4 DC
Engine: 4-cyl, 2.5-litre turbodiesel
Power: 131kW @ 4000rpm
Torque: 400Nm @ 2000 - 2850rpm
0-100km/h (claimed): 12.1 seconds
Top speed (claimed): 167km/h
Consumption (claimed): 8.6 l/100km
Price: R419 900
Warranty: 3-year/100 000km
Service plan: 5-year/90 000km
Ford Ranger 3.2 XLT 4x4 DC (147kW/470Nm) - R467 600
Foton Tunland 2.8 Lux 4x4 DC (120kW/360Nm) - R369 950
GWM Steed5 2.0 VGT 4x4 DC (110kW/310Nm) - R272 900
Isuzu KB300 D-Teq LX 4x4 DC (130kW/380Nm) - R454 900
Nissan Navara 2.5 dCi SE 4x4 DC (128kW/403Nm) - R454 700
Toyota Hilux 3.0 D-4D 4x4 DC (120kW/343Nm) - R462 400
VW Amarok 2.0 BiTDI 4x4 DC (132kW/400Nm) - R470 900