By Miles Downard
These days there are two main contenders in the bakkie market, the Hilux and Ranger. There’s a strong following for Isuzu too, even VW, then there are various fringe players like Mazda and Fiat. For some reason the previous Triton’s appear to have fallen into the last category, to my mind, often overlooked by the South African public. So, now that there’s a new one, can it break into the mainstream?
On the outside
As most will likely know, the Mitsubishi Triton and Fiat Fullback share an awful lot in common. In fact Fiat did not a lot more than stick their own badges onto a Mitsubishi and roll them onto showroom floors. So, of course, it’s like trying to tell identical twins apart after a whiskey or two. Mind you, these are fairly attractive twins to my eye. The Triton doesn’t stick to bakkie norms in its proportions and profiles.
On the inside
This is probably the Triton’s weakest point. Unfortunately for the fringe players, Toyota and Ford have stepped up the bakkie game significantly. Some would argue that VW has always done the premium interior well too. These have left the others languishing in a sea of hard plastic and touch screen’s that feel like afterthoughts.
More off road adventure in the new Mitsubishi Triton, it's fun overall for everyday use. pic.twitter.com/fgwczkQlgB
— Deon Govender (@djdeong) June 15, 2017
That said it is a comfortable place to sit with plenty of room too, sporting one of the longest cabins on offer. The wider interior angle of the side windows also allows additional shoulder space inside the cabin. The Triton offers cruise control, a keyless operating system, dual-zone auto air-conditioning, a reverse camera, an electrically adjustable driver’s seat, tilt and telescopic steering wheel adjustment.
Behind the wheel
Under the bonnet lies a new version of Mitsubishi’s 2.4 litre turbo diesel motor that’s been around since 2010. It now sports 133kW and 430 torques which isn’t to be sniffed at one bit, in fact it’s more than the 2.8 GD6 Hilux and only slightly less than the 3.2 Ranger. Mine had a 6 speed manual ‘box, but an auto is available too. A fast spooling turbocharger with an unconventionally low compression ratio aids responsive torque delivery at low engine speeds and improves fuel consumption, with the Triton achieving 7.6 litres per 100km.
One of the key aspects the engineers were tasked with when designing the new Triton was to mirror the same level of comfort and convenience as Mitsubishi’s range of SUV-models. Not easy in what is essentially a commercial vehicle. But the results are evident. The Triton sports a small turning circle making it a pleasure to drive in traffic and navigate parking lots. The suspension was revised and is quite comfortable for a bakkie. This thing is also very stable on all road surfaces, especially gravel. Lastly it’s refined, allowing very little noise into the cabin, resulting in a smooth and quiet car-like driving experience.
As for the off-road stuff, have a watch of our Fiat Fullback 4×4 test:
The 4×4 version with the manual gearbox is R539 900. All the bells and whistles are included, no extras here. At that price it sits in the middle of the Hilux and Ranger’s model lineup, a bit more than the smaller engined ones, but a lot more powerful and well spec’d, and less than the bigger engined models but equally spec’d. The Fiat Fullback is a bit cheaper however.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Triton. Mitsubishi has done a good job of making it less agricultural than it really should be, but trust me it’s still tough as nails under the skin. If you’re after an alternate to the Ranger and Hilux that offers good value and trouble-free service (Mitsubishi’s just don’t break), the Triton is a worthy one.