New Models - Mitsubishi Triton
First drive: Triton diesel gets charged up
Mitsubishi's Triton workhorse now has turbo-diesel power and torque
9 April 2003
MITSUBISHI has increased the power of its Triton one-tonne diesel ute range by upgrading the engine to the 2.8-litre turbo-diesel that once powered the Pajero.
This data has lifted the Triton well up the competitive ladder - on paper at least.
Against the competitors, the new Triton turbo-diesel outshines all but the Nissan Navara in power or torque, or for both power and torque.
The Triton demolishes the 3.0-litre naturally aspirated diesel HiLux (as do all the other main HiLux competitors), which makes that vehicle close to uncompetitive and must put a question mark over the Toyota in the medium term.
The turbo HiLux does well in the torque stakes but is still underpowered in the segment.
Indeed, as the table shows, on paper at least, Navara performance has the segment thoroughly stitched up.
On value, Mitsubishi has managed to hold price increases to just $500 on all models in spite of the clearly superior performance of the more technically-advanced power plant over the previous model.
The range pricing takes the diesel 4x4 game right up to the competition - more than matching most of them on entry and mid-level prices - in some cases by several thousand dollars.
The company hopes that it will triple sales from 103 a month to 310 a month. It is numbers like those above that give Mitsubishi the confidence to make such a prediction.
Mitsubishi Triton GLX T/D Cab Chassis $31,490
Mitsubishi Triton GLX T/D Club Cab $36,490
Mitsubishi Triton GLX T/D Double Cab $37,490
Mitsubishi Triton GLS T/D Double Cab $44,490
Mitsubishi Triton GLX: Dual SRS airbags $1200
Mitsubishi Triton GLS: Dual SRS airbags & "dress-up pack" $1600 Mitsubishi Triton GLX T/D Club Cab/Double Cab: Delete tray $750
DRIVE IMPRESSIONS:THE story in this vehicle is really the engine. Nothing else of any consequence has changed other than fine tweaking like revised spring rates that go with the heavier power plant and taller gear ratios that can be accommodated with greater power and torque.
The Triton is a working man's vehicle and that is how we judged it. With 200kg of ballast in the back, it was put through its paces around the Sapphire Coast area of south-eastern NSW and on the Monaro plains.
We suspect that if you scratched the surface at Mitsubishi, they would have preferred to have been given the 3.2-litre direct injection diesel from the Pajero because, as improved at it is, the 2.8-litre turbo-diesel does show up some shortcomings.
It must be said that overall it is a very competent engine. But you do need to concentrate on making sure you hold the revs in the most effective rev band to ensure it does not fall in a hole.
Let it fall below 2000rpm in a tallish gear and recovery is pretty slow.
You need to go for the lower gear to get the turbo's attention so it will pump some life into the power plant. But if you row it around with your eye on the rev counter, you can really make the thing pedal along very nicely indeed.
In fact, a little band on the rev counter showing the best torque range would be a helpful addition.
Gear changes are slick enough thRough the five speeds. Automatic is only available with some petrol engine combinations.
Given there were two people and the 200kg ballast, it held speed well on long hills but it was best that fourth was used instead of fifth. Acceleration above 100km/h was fairly flat.
The off-road course was not all that demanding or challenging. But for a workhorse that might wind up travelling forest roads and rough country on maintenance details or the general duties required of farming or grazing, it proved the value of a good torquey diesel for ensuring creeping power for access in difficult conditions.
Given the drought, there was no opportunity to travel boggy tracks but we suspect the addition of the ballast would prove important to getting grip in slippery conditions.
There is not much weight on the back wheels of these utes so you wouldn't want to find yourself in some place you cannot climb out of.
In terms of comfort, diesel noise levels are low and the torsion bar front suspension combined well with the leaf springs at the back although, again, that must be set against the ballast preventing the sort of bucking you expect from leaf springs when utes are unladen.
Overall, it is horse for courses. The old engine deserved the declining sales it got - and maybe didn't even deserve some of those.
This new version is very competent and the Triton can now compete on equal - or better - terms for its share of a growing 4x4 diesel market. It seems to be a great leap forward into the present.
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