IT – not just geek stuff

Mention IT in capital letters and images of geeks, nerds and Big Bang Theory reruns instantly cloud the mind. However, IT in this instance stands for Isuzu and Triton – both fairly new but long enough on the market to establish some sales traction.

Our two test vehicles are not actually going head-to-head since the Isuzu is all-wheel drive and the Triton a standard two-wheel drive. Common ground is both are double cabs and specced to appeal to the leisure market.

The leisure end of the South African LCV (bakkie) market is as intriguing as it is diverse with a large gap between the two top sellers and the other players – the two top players in the market, Toyota and Ford, both have enormous ranges with a bakkie to suit almost every level of desire.

Hilux still leads the sales race from the Ranger and then there is quite a gap to the next level where both the Isuzu and Triton compete (joined here by the likes of Fiat Fullback, Nissan Navara and Volkswagen Amarok).

Isuzu, perhaps, is out of step with the main players in terms of model renewal so, while the Triton is all-new, the KB recently had a refresh.

Key changes included a new front fascia design including changes to bonnet, radiator grille and fog lamps, new headlamps with projector and integrated LED day time running lights on LX models, new tailgate styling on extended and double cab models, rear view camera integrated to tailgate handle on LX double cab models, new 18-inch alloy wheels for LX models and a new 16-inch styled wheel for the rest of the range.

Our test vehicle carried the 3,0-litre DTEQ turbo-charged diesel engine with 130 kW and 380 Nm on offer. Combined cycle fuel consumption is 7,9 l/100 km for 4×4 double cab.

A key feature of LX models is a touch screen infotainment system with satellite navigation, internet, Wi-Fi, and smartphone integration. The screen – a 1 080 high-definition TFT unit with a 6,5-inch dimension – also acts as the display when browsing, or using the DVD player.

The Rear Park Assist reverse camera is now integrated into the rear tailgate handle on all LX double cab models.

Passive entry and start system (PESS) is a keyless entry with Start/Stop ignition button is standard on all LX double cab models. Leather is available as standard on the 4×4 auto and manual double cabs and as an option on 4×2 Double Cab derivatives.

For Mitsubishi, the new vehicle is the fifth iteration of the Colt/Triton legacy and arrived in South Africa some while after launching in markets such as Australia, Brazil, Europe and the Middle East.

“From the onset, the brief to designers and engineers was to maintain the essence of the Triton, but also to improve on aspects of ride, handling and comfort to create a truly SUV-like experience from behind the wheel,” says Nic Campbell, general manager at Mitsubishi Motors South Africa.

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 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.

The design features chrome accents around the front driving lights, grille and flush-mounted door handles, newly designed side steps and 17-inch alloy wheels.

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.

The driver is made to feel at home thanks to 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, to name but a few of the standard creature comforts.

The cabin itself has been stretched by 20 mm to 1,745 mm to improve cabin space, while shoulder room – both front and rear – has been improved.

The Triton is fitted with an aluminium block four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine with reinforced steel piston sleeves for durability and an integrated common rail direct injection system.

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.

On the double-cab versions, Mitsubishi engineers have added the ASTC (Active Stability and Traction Control) system, which modulates both braking and engine power to maintain the chosen driving line in slippery conditions. The range comes standard with anti-lock braking and EBD as well as Hill Start Assist (HSA).

With just 3 kW and 0,3 l/100 km difference between the two vehicles, there is little to separate them there – and equally little in terms of modern luxury fittings or vehicle safety and driver aids.

Although demand for luxury SUV bakkies remains strong in South Africa, the reality is most spend their time negotiating the urban horrors of potholes and deteriorating road surfaces – so the full 4×4 options rarely find themselves doing bush duty (except, of course, for those bought by enthusiasts).

Thus, the main comparison between the Isuzu and the Triton comes in operation as daily commuter vehicles with off-road limited to unpaved surfaces rather than donga-diving.

On the dirt, the Isuzu just shades the Triton – the slightly heavier Isuzu (3 100 kg) feeling a tad more balanced on dirt roads whereas the Triton was just a little too eager to press home its slight power and torque advantage, resulting in it becoming tail happy.

Doing the daily commute, perhaps the additional torque of the Triton gave it advantage by allowing a higher gear to be held for that much longer.

On clearer roads where the two vehicles could stretch their legs, nothing in it at all and both were long haul comfortable with about equal results in terms of wind and road noise – and both of those came in at agreeably low.

In the tighter sections the Triton had a slightly better turn in to corners, but road holding was on a par – perhaps more impressive from the Isuzu as one would have expected the extra mass here would compromise it under hard cornering.

At the end of the day the choice for any buyer has to be whether they want the full facility of 4×4 or just a an upmarket, comfortable and spacious bakkie that can workhorse or trail bike hauler.

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Back in Transit

ImageHistory, they say, has a habit of repeating itself. Sometimes, mainly for those who failed to realise their errors and correct them, it comes as slap in face. For others it is a welcome return to something known, loved and appreciated – this applicable to the return of the Transit name to the Ford stable locally.

Back in the mid-sixties the Ford Transit van was manufactured at the company’s plant in Port Elizabeth and, at the time, was just about the only panel van available on the local market. Life happened and the Transit name vanished from the scene in South Africa while it continued to develop and grow, particularly in the UK, where it consistently topped the sales charts for years.

 Now reintroduced to the local market, the Transit – and its people-carrier sibling, the Tourneo – represent a completely new generation of Ford one-ton vehicles and an important step in Ford’s commitment to expanding its presence in the commercial vehicle line-up.

With its bold new design, car-like interior and outstanding driving dynamics, the Ford Transit Custom will appeal to a broad range of professionals, skilled tradesmen and small businesses.

“The Transit Custom is a welcome introduction to the South African market,” says Gavin Golightly, marketing manager, Ford South Africa. “This is a stylish, modern van that customers will be proud to have in their driveway. At the same time it’s up for the tasks required by this segment.”

The Transit Custom features a bold exterior design, which embodies the same dynamic character as Ford’s kinetic design passenger cars.

 “Customers want their vehicle to project a modern and professional image, and the new Transit Custom does not disappoint,” adds Golightly. “We have given the vehicle a stylish, modern appearance that will be appreciated by businesses of all sizes.”

 Signature kinetic design features help to give the Transit Custom its unique character, including the bold trapezoidal grille, strong, muscular shoulder line and prominent wheel lips.

The Transit Custom is available in a choice of short wheelbase (4,97 metres) and long wheelbase (5,34 metres) versions, so customers can select the amount of load space that best suits their business.

In addition to offering maximum load volume (6,0 m3 SAE with full bulkhead fitted, 6,.8 m3 SAE with LWB) that exceeds that of its closest competitors, the load area of the Transit Custom has been carefully optimised to offer more space and more convenience than any of its rivals. 

The optimised bulkhead and load space design enables the SWB model to carry three Euro pallets loaded to at least one metre high, while the load-through hatch in bulkhead enables loads up to three metres in length (3,4 m with LWB), such as pipes or ladders, to be safely carried inside the vehicle.

There is a deployable integrated roof rack system that seamlessly integrates into the roof, and can be deployed when required, while repositioned tie-down hooks and fixing points located on the body sides, leave the floor clear for easier loading and cleaning.

To provide customers with a wide range of payload options from 600 kg -1 400 kg, Transit Custom is available with multiple GVM options.

“Designers sought to design the load space that would make everyday functions more convenient – so it’s easier for customers to do their job,” says Golightly.

 The Transit Custom and the Tourneo bring car-like driver appeal to its segment with an interior designed with the driver in mind, advanced technologies and outstanding driving dynamics.

 The modern, driver-focused cockpit features a sculpted instrument panel, which combines stylish looks with smart stowage solutions for bottles, phones and papers. Driver comfort is significantly enhanced through a highly adjustable driving position, which features ample seat travel and a steering column adjustable for reach and rake.

 Once behind the wheel, the driver can call upon a wide range of available driver assistance technologies also featured in Ford’s latest passenger cars.

 These include the Ford SYNC voice-activated, in-car connectivity system, Lane Keeping Alert, Driver Alert, Auto High Beam and Hill Launch Assist.

To achieve a driving experience not unlike that on the passenger car range, engineers developed the new Ford global one-ton platform, which underpins the Transit Custom to make it much stiffer and stronger – increasing torsional stiffness by as much as 37% – benefitting both handling and noise levels.

 The Transit Custom achieved a maximum five-star safety rating from independent vehicle safety organisation Euro NCAP.

To maximise occupant protection, the Transit Custom features an optimised body structure, which features ultra-high-strength Boron steel. In total, 40% of the body is made from high-strength or ultra-high-strength steels, resulting in a strong and light body that is designed to offer high levels of crash protection.

The Transit Custom also features an enhanced restraint system, which now gives customers the option of specifying a passenger air bag for front seat occupants, in addition to the standard fitment driver air bag. On the Tourneo, curtain air bags are standard for the front seat occupants, together with driver and passenger air bags and seat-mounted side thorax air bags.

As on Ford’s latest passenger cars, a non-axial stroking steering column is also fitted, to help reduce loads on the occupant’s head and chest in the event of a high-speed frontal impact.

Both models are fitted with the 2,2-litre Duratorq TDCi diesel engine and offered in three variations. The 74 kW model offers 310 Nm of torque from just 1 300 r/min, the 92 kW version offers 350 Nm at 1 450 r/min while the high-powered 114 kW version offers 385 Nm at 1 600 r/min.

“The Tourneo Custom offers the kind of style and performance that will have a very broad appeal, particularly to personal use customers looking for a spacious and versatile vehicle,” says Golightly. “It’s a fantastic-looking people mover – inside and out – and offers outstanding day-to-day practicality while still being great to drive.”

Image“Designers set out to create a clean, modern silhouette. With its sporty stance, bold rising shoulder line and flush glazing, the Tourneo Custom brings something fresh and exciting to this class of people mover.”

Signature kinetic design features help to give the Tourneo Custom its character, including the bold trapezoidal grille, strong and muscular shoulder line, prominent wheel lips and window lines with the distinctive kick at the rear.

The eight-seater Tourneo Custom is available in a 2 933 mm short wheelbase version (4,97 metres), and a 3 300 mm long wheelbase (5,34 metres), both of which provide generous space for people and luggage. The additional length of the LWB version translates into extra luggage space behind the third seat row.

At a height of less than 2,0 metres, the Tourneo Custom also comfortably complies with most car park height limits. This advantage is retained when the vehicle is fitted with the deployable integrated roof rack system, which is seamlessly integrated into the roof and can easily be raised or lowered when required.

 Tourneo Custom models offer twin side sliding doors as standard, with running boards below the doors for improved low level step access, as well as a strong visual differentiation. A lift gate is fitted as standard at the rear.

 The seats in the two rear rows can be easily folded into multiple configurations and removed in segments or completely – in total there are 30 seating permutations to suit any occasion. All seating positions provide integral three-point lap and shoulder style seat belts.

Air-conditioning is a standard fitment for front seat occupants while a separate air-conditioning unit for the rear compartment is available as part of an option pack. Also available is Ford’s SYNC voice-activated, in-car connectivity system that enables mobile phones and music players to be connected to the vehicle and operated by voice control.

Customers can select from either Ambiente trim or the higher specced Trend trim based on individual requirements. The Trend models feature, SYNC, electrically operated mirrors, cruise control, 16” alloy wheels and more as standard equipment.

The Transit Custom comes with a 4-year/120 000 km comprehensive warranty. Service intervals are every 15 000km with a Service Plan available as a dealer option. The Tourneo Custom comes with a 5-year/90 000 km Service Plan and 3-year /unlimited km Roadside Assistance.

Reprinted, with permission, from Fleet MagazineImage