As mad as South Africans are about bakkies, they are also often a partisan crowd and different places around the country tend to show a predominance of favour for a certain brand.
Where I live on the South Coast of KwaZulu Natal – often called the slow coast for good reason – the Ford Ranger is edging ahead based on visible numbers on the road. However, when one starts paying attention to the make there are still surprising numbers of Colt bakkies on active duty.
The Mitsubishi Colt – particularly the 2,8-litre diesel – was hugely popular and when the marque left the Mercedes-Benz stable and the original Triton came out – well, for folk locally, it just was not quite the same so they hung onto their Colts, tended to the rust and carried on until replacement was essential.
That moment came well before the new generation Triton was launched – hence the rise in popularity of other makes.
Will new Triton make inroads. In this sales microcosm it will be interesting to watch.
Should Triton make inroads. Damn straight!
The 2017 model, the fifth in the Colt/Triton lineage, is the most advanced pick-up ever to be developed by Mitsubishi and launched in South Africa earlier this year, following successful introduction to Australia, Brazil, Europe and the Middle East.
Engineers improved 185 key areas of the Triton, compared to its predecessor, ranging from deepening and reinforcing the loading bay, revising the shape of the bonnet for aerodynamic efficiency and refining the driving position for improved in-vehicle visibility and comfort.
Other famous elements such as the distinct J-line between the cabin and the load bay have been reworked for benchmark interior space. This is immediately apparent to all passengers, particularly those seated in the back of the double-cab models.
While I like the looks and flowing lines, achieving those has compromised rear seat (adult) passengers on longer journeys where the reduced visibility from the small windows can become a tad claustrophobic.
The sculpted bonnet, bold grille and wrap-around headlights flow into a deep shoulder-line that connects to the new tail lights and a curved tailgate that now facilitates one-handed operation. The integrated brake light on the tailgate cannot be obscured like those on cab-mounted versions.
The design is further tweaked by the addition of chrome accents around the front driving lights, grille and flush-mounted door handles. Newly designed side steps and 17-inch alloy wheels complete the updates.
The combined engineering effort, which has radically improved the new Triton over its predecessor, is perhaps most evident inside the cabin, which was purposely shaped to mirror the same level of comfort and convenience as Mitsubishi’s range of SUV-models and iconic Pajero – the upcoming Pajero Sport actually being developed off the Triton.
Getting in and out of the new Triton is not only much easier, but sitting behind the steering wheel feels more natural thanks to a commanding driver position offering improved visibility over the front of the vehicle.
The driver has the benefit of a new dashboard with easy-to-clean surfaces chosen for practicality. Range-specific features on the new model include an intuitive touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth connectivity and USB audio input as well as the keyless push-button Stop/Start system.
Standard are cruise control, dual-zone auto air-conditioning, a reverse camera, an electrically adjustable driver’s seat, tilt and telescopic steering wheel adjustment and leather upholstery.
The cabin itself has been stretched by 20 mm to 1 745 mm to further improve cabin space, while shoulder room ‒ both front and rear ‒ has been improved. Subtle changes include redesigned seats offering additional bolstering and higher density foam for more comfortable long distance driving.
The double-cab’s rear bench is angled by a class-leading 25 degrees. This not only adds additional leg and shoulder space, but mitigates the typical upright position that is synonymous with double-cab pick-ups. To round off the impressive cabin, Mitsubishi’s engineers have added thicker sound deadening material to the engine firewall and under the floor.
The Mitsubishi Triton is fitted with an aluminium block four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine. The new engine offers the ideal combination of a fast spooling turbo-charger with an unconventionally low compression ratio of 15.5:1 which aids responsive torque delivery at low engine speeds.
The 2.4 MIVEC engine also features reinforced steel piston sleeves for durability and an integrated common rail direct injection system. This engine weighs 30 kg less than its predecessor.
Power delivery is rated at 133 kW at 3 500 r/min with torque peaking at 430 Nm at 2 500 r/min. Fuel consumption is rated at 7,6 l/100 km in a combined cycle. In the test cycle this was easily achieved and bettered with the vehicle unladen and carrying a full load I managed 8,7 l/100 km.
The new 2.4 MIVEC turbo-diesel delivers power to the rear through the choice of a shorter-shifting six-speed manual gearbox, or a five-speed automatic transmission as was the case with my test unit.
Triton owes its better road manners to revised stabiliser bars, stiffer front springs and significantly larger rubber body mountings on the ladder frame chassis.
The overall combination can be experienced by less body roll and pitching – unwanted tendencies usually associated with a heavy nose and empty load bin. Once again, the J-line allowed engineers to shorten the wheelbase which leads to crisper manoeuvrability.
Further handling gains can be attributed to the Hydraulic Power Steering system that is more direct at 3,8 turns lock-to-lock (as opposed to the 4,3 turns of its predecessor) and tightening the cornering radius to 5,9 metres.
That’s what Mitsubishi says – in reality the steering is still a bit too vague when the vehicle is unladen especially on gravel roads when travelling briskly. The combination of vague steering and front end wash if the turn in is a little too heavy can lead to some nervous moments.
Fortunately, it does come with Active Stability and Traction Control to mitigate and this works rather well without being too intrusive in normal driving situations. It comes standard with anti-lock braking and EBD as well as Hill Start Assist (HSA).
One of the reasons the Colt did so well in this market was its solid dependability. The new Triton gives off that same feeling.
All models have a 5-year/90 000 km service plan and 3-year/100 000 km manufacturer’s warranty.
2.4 Di-DC 4X2 5-speed A/T
Engine Type DOHC MIVEC Common Rail
Fuel Type Diesel
Max. Output 133 kW @ 3 500 r/min
Max. Torque 43 Nm @ 2 500 r/min
Fuel Tank Capacity 75L
Towing Capacity (Braked) 1 500 kg
Towing Capacity (Unbraked) 750 kg