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Driven: Mitsubishi's new Triton hits SA

Latest launches

There’s no such thing as being fashionably late in the motor industry, but there is at least one good thing that came out of the delayed introduction of Mitsubishi’s all-new Triton.

Waiting this long, for the rand to finally allow the pricing sums to work out to some degree, has allowed Mitsubishi to introduce its new bakkie with Mitsubishi’s sophisticated new 2.4-litre Mivec turbodiesel engine, rather than the previous-generation 2.5-litre unit that was previously earmarked for our market.

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The latest Triton is finally in SA, sporting a new 2.4-litre diesel and priced from R479 900.

So now it’s finally here, in double cab guise at least – with club cab and single cab derivatives set to follow later in the year – and it’s priced slightly below its key rivals with four high-spec 2.4 diesel models (giving you usual the 4x2/4x4, manual/auto choice) for between R479 900 and R559 900.

The so-called ‘J’ design side profile allowed designers to retain a relatively short wheelbase while still procuring generous rear legroom and a best-in-class seating angle, but this time they’ve done this without making the vehicle look like a banana. Mitsubishi admits that many previous owners were somewhat put off by the previous model’s design and the new one should prove a lot more palatable, if a little innocuous even, if we’re looking at it from the front.

But the big drawcard will be the new 2.4-litre engine, which is good for 133kW at 3500rpm and 430Nm at 2500rpm, putting it right up there with the 2.8-litre Hilux (130kW and 420 to 450Nm) and 2-litre VW Amarok (132kW and 420Nm). Featuring an all-aluminium block, the unit weighs 30kg less than the old 2.5 and has an unusually low compression ratio of 15.5:1. The engine can be mated to either a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic gearbox.

At the Triton’s local launch in Gauteng on Monday, I got to play with the new Triton on a wide variety of roads and non-roads, otherwise known as trails, and the new engine really stood out for its overall sophistication. It’s quiet and smooth-revving for an oil burner and delivers oodles of torque from low down.

As one would expect at this level of the bakkie game, it is available with a capable and comprehensive four-wheel drive system, with four modes selectable via rotary switch, including the obligatory low-range for trail creeping. Yet while its respective approach and departure angles of 28 and 22 degrees are competitive, its 215mm ground clearance is a bit lower than that of rivals. Still, the launch vehicles got through some rather unforgiving off-road courses near Heidelberg without incident, well if you ignore a few scraped running boards that is.

It’s not just capable in the bundus – on the open tar stretches the Triton impressed with its quietness. Although as with any bakkie the ride can be a bit uncomfortable over harsh surfaces, it proved rather decent on the highway sections. The short wheelbase also gives it a rather tight turning circle for town driving, by bakkie standards at least, although the resultant long rear overhang is perhaps not ideal for heavier loads. Unlike some rivals, the steering is adjustable both height and reach, allowing a comfortable driving position to be set up, but the steering does feel fairly vague on the open road.

The cabin is spacious and comfortable, and rather well specced, with all versions coming with leather seats (electrically adjustable for the driver) as well as a touch-screen infotainment system with reverse camera and Bluetooth connectivity, dual-zone climate control and cruise control.

The fascia design is rather plain and straightforward and although the plastics are hard to the touch, Mitsubishi has put some effort into making the materials appear reasonably classy, once again, by bakkie standards at least.

On the safety front, the Triton packs dual front airbags, but strangely lacks side and curtain airbags, but it does at least come with an active stability and traction control system. When it comes to the crunch, the vehicle’s structure is safe enough to have achieved a five-star Australian NCAP rating.

As you’ll see below prices are pitched slightly below key rivals, with a 4x2 manual coming in around R11 000 below the equivalent Hilux and the top 4x4 auto saving you R13 600 and you’ll notice even bigger savings over the albeit-more-powerful Ranger. That might not be enough to get the maddening crowds tripping each other up through Mitsubishi’s showroom doors, but if you want to stand apart from the Hilux-Ranger crowd, the new Triton is certainly a credible alternative.

Mitsubishi Triton prices

2.4 Di-D 4x2 man – 133kW/430Nm – R479 900

2.4 Di-D 4x2 auto – 133kW/430Nm – R499 900

2.4 Di-D 4x4 man – 133kW/430Nm – R539 900

2.4 Di-D 4x4 auto – 133kW/430Nm – R559 900

But what do the rivals cost?

4x2 manual

Ford Ranger 3.2 XLT 4x2 man – 147kW/470Nm – R515 900

Isuzu KB300 D-Teq LX 4x2 man – 130kW/380Nm – R486 900

Toyota Hilux 2.8 GD-6 Raider 4x2 man – 132kW/420Nm – R490 700

4x4 auto

Ford Ranger 3.2 XLT 4x4 auto – 147kW/470Nm – R577 900

Toyota Hilux 2.8 GD-6 Raider 4x4 auto – 130kW/450Nm – R573 500

VW Amarok 2.0 BiTDI 4x4 auto – 132kW/420Nm – R587 400

IOL Motoring

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