Mitsubishi has given its new Triton a distinctive look, plus plenty of muscle
5 July 2006
By TIM BRITTEN
A DRAMATIC new look for the Triton is expected to deliver a substantial sales kick to Mitsubishi Motors Australia and consolidate its position in the 4x2 and 4x4 segment, which accounted for more than 140,000 sales in 2005.
With a share of 7.1 per cent, Mitsubishi sits well behind market giants Toyota and Holden, who account for 22.1 and 17.3 per cent of sales respectively.
The radical styling of the new-generation, Thai-built Triton is claimed to give Mitsubishi real improvements in interior space, particularly in the crew-cab version which now claims best-in-class passenger room, while new engines, new suspensions and an across-the-board one-tonne load capacity make the new ML Triton unique in its class.
It replaces the narrow-gutted third-series MK Triton, which was launched here in 1996 and adds, depending on model, 55mm to overall width and as much as 85mm to the front track width and 65mm to the rear. It stretches the wheelbase from 2960mm to a full 3000mm on all models.
The focal point of the ML Triton is the bathtub-style cab which, as well as providing an unmistakable identity, also plays a part in delivering an interior that is claimed to accommodate back-seat passengers better than any other dual-cab on the Australian market.
But fitting this big cab into an overall length that has grown a little less than the wheelbase does restrict tray space.
The new Triton bumps up the width between the wheel arches but loses some tray length, which drops from 1500mm previously to 1325 in dual-cab versions, and from 2245mm in the previous single-cab tray to 2220mm. The dual-cab in particular looks small compared with Toyota’s dual-cab HiLux.
This reflects the changing face of one-tonne pickups in world markets where more emphasis is being placed on passenger comfort and style, although a slightly more utilitarian focus in countries such as Australia means practical needs have not been altogether sacrificed, particularly in the 4x2 segment where most trade-type sales are made.
The most noticeable trends in the one-tonne pickup market are the increasing popularity of diesel, particularly in the 4x4 segment, and the growth of the dual-cab.
The new Triton range comprises the base workhorse GLX, which can be had in 4x2 or 4x4 cab-chassis or dual-cab pickup form, the more upmarket GLX-R, which is only available as a 4x4 in dual-cab pickup form, and the top of the line GLS which also comes only as a dual-cab 4x4.
Two engines are currently available: a SOHC 24-valve 3.5-litre Euro 3-compatible V6 petrol familiar in the Pajero and replacing the previous 3.0-litre, and a new 3.2-litre Euro 4-compatible common-rail direct injection turbo-diesel four that takes the place of the previous 2.8-litre turbo-diesel.
The Triton rollout sees the 4x4 versions available immediately, while the high-ride 3.5-litre petrol 4x2 range will be available from November. A 2.4-litre petrol four-cylinder GL cab-chassis will be available from early 2007.
In most cases the transmission is a five-speed manual, with four-speed auto transmission available only with the V6 and only in the GLX-R. The top-spec GLS comes with the diesel engine only and therefore misses out on an automatic option.
The Triton offers the choice of ABS (with EBD) on GLX and fits it as standard on GLX-R and GLS, while making a push-button operated lockable rear differential an option on all 4x4 models as a step up from the standard limited-slip system.
The V6’s final drive ratio has been raised from 4.9:1 to 4.3:1 in the interests of fuel economy (CDi GLX is 3.917:1 and CDi GLX-R and GLS 4.1:1), while the Triton’s 4x4 system is controlled by a conventional floor lever that enables high-range selection on the fly.
Suspension too has been reworked. Double wishbones and coil springs replace the traditional single-wishbone torsion bar arrangement up front and there's a new leaf spring setup at the back, which sees the springs siting on top of the axle rather than being underslung in the interests of added ground clearance – which is up, depending on model, by as much as 30mm over previous Tritons.