A big mountain to climb
The new Mitsubishi Triton has arrived in local dealerships, and it comes with some inherent quality and plenty of pedigree. Does it stand a chance in SA’s most combative vehicle segment?
It’s been long overdue, but the latest Mitsubishi Triton is finally available in SA. The company sold 66 units in its first month (February) – which is neither horribly bad nor particularly great. Facing some stiff competiton in the extremely competitive double cab bakkie segment, the Triton clearly has a mountain to climb.
The latest Mitsubishi Triton is okay-ish priced – it’s neither “wow, that’s great value!” or “crickey, that’s waaaay to much!”
Compared to the already-on-sale Fiat Fullback – which is essentially a Triton with a Fiat badge which managed to sell only 26 units in February – the Triton’s interior is a more upmarket, classy affair. Even the Mitsubishi’s leather trim seems to be softer and of a higher quality.
Under the bonnet lives a 2.4-litre turbodiesel four-pot that delivers 133kW at 3 500r/min, while torque is rated at 430Nm, peaking at a high 2 500r/min.
Out first experience with this engine was during our recent #fastbakkie test. In that test, rally legend Hannes Grobler drove nine bakkies as fast as they would go around a 400m rally track. In those foot-flat conditions, the Triton’s diesel engine did really well, seemingly unblighted by much turbo lag at all.
However, driving the manual Triton in heavy, stop-start traffic did highlight a big hole at the bottom of the rev range. Interestingly, we also had a brief opportunity to drive the five-speed automatic version – and it hardly showed any signs of lag. So it is a much better bedfellow to the 2.4-litre engine than the manual gearbox (in stop-start traffic anyway).
Once on the move, cruising in the manual version is effortless in sixth gear, and overtaking is as easy as squeezing the accelerator a bit deeper – no need to gear down three cogs to get some speed going (as long as the revs are sitting around the 2 000r/min and higher mark). One of the most endearing Triton qualities though, is the refinement of the cabin. It really does have a more upmarket feel to it than 95% of the other premium bakkies on the market.
It has soft leather seats which are comfortable, it has ample leg-room for rear passengers and a multi-function steering wheel which controls the cruise control and audio. It even has Mitsubishi’s familiar touchscreen media system that reduces button clutter on the centre stack.
A unique Triton 4×4 party trick is the Super Select 4×4 system. The Triton is the only double cab to feature such a system, and it offers an option between 2High, 4High with an open centre differential (so you can drive it in 4WD on a dry tar road without any risk of damage to the drivetrain), 4High with a locked centre differential (50/50 split between the front and rear axles), as well as 4Low. In addition, it also has a rear differential lock for more serious 4×4 driving.
So from a 4×4 and overlading perspective, the comfortable Triton certainly scores some brownie points. Off-road it certainly is as capable as any of its rivals in the double cab 4×4 segment.
It has airbags for the driver and front passenger (which doesn’t compare so well with other bakkies in this price bracket), ABS, EBD, hill-start assist, active stability control and traction control. It also has a five-year/90 000km service plan and a three-year/100 000km warranty.
So can it run with the big double cab dogs?
Judged purely as a bakkie, compared to other bakkies in its class, it certainly can. In fact, when it comes to the Super Select 4WD system, it actually outperforms other bakkies.
But in the real world, it’s the bottom-dollar factor that matters more than a trick 4WD system. And in the pricing department the Triton is facing an uphill battle. With Ford’s aggressive push to sell its local-is-lekker Ranger bakkie, you can pick up a brand-new 2.2TDCi double cab 4×2 for around R350 000. And a 4×4 version for not much more.
The imported Triton sells for R540 000 (as tested). One has to feel for a company such as Mitsubishi SA: the brand’s pricing is very much linked to the rand/dollar exchange rate, and our poor monetary unit has been under the whip in recent times.
As a result, we reckon the latest Triton has a huge mountain to climb to find any real traction in the local market. Toyota and Ford rule the roost with their locally made, high-on-value propositions.
That said, if you don’t like to run with the rest of the pack, and if you prefer to swim upstream and do your own thing, then the Triton is a viable alternative.
In essence it is a decent, solid offering.
Mitsubishi Triton 2.4Di-D
Engine: Four-cylinder turbocharged diesel
Displacement: 2 442cc
Power: 133kW @ 3 500r/min
Torque: 430Nm @ 2 500r/min
Transmission: Six-speed manual
4×4 system: Super Select II 4WD (2H, 4H, 4H lock, 4Low)
Consumption: 9.8 litres/100km
Fuel tank capacity: 75 litres
Ground clearance (claimed): 205mm
Price: R539 000