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Future models - Mitsubishi - Triton

First drive: New Mitsubishi Triton's strong Aussie flavour

Light mechanical changes highlight new-look Mitsubishi Triton’s off-road credentials

Mitsubishi logo13 Nov 2018

By TUNG NGUYEN in BANGKOK

MITSUBISHI’S forthcoming upgraded Triton will carry a strong Australian flavour, with significant testing conducted Down Under as the Japanese car-maker aims for further sales growth in the important Asia and Oceania region.
 
As the Triton’s second-largest global market behind Thailand, Australia was used as a testing ground to finetune the one-tonne utility’s off-road capabilities and ruggedness, according to Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) Triton program global lead Koichi Namiki.
 
“Actually, Australia is a very good field for testing, our vehicle is very famous for four-wheel drive and off-road capability,” he said.
 
“In order for us to properly test that kind of thing, Australia is perfect – steep hills, mountains, etc – so we ran 100,000 miles (160,934km) in Australia in these vehicles, to test that everything is right.
 
“The dusty desert gave us a good opportunity to test the durability and reliability of the vehicle.”
 
While the new Triton was also tested in Chile and Peru for high-altitude assessment, as well as in harsh mining conditions in Indonesia, overall about 30 per cent of Mitsubishi’s new pick-up will be influenced by Australian conditions and requirements. 
 
Speaking to media at the international unveiling of the Triton in Bangkok last week, MMC senior vice-president of global sales and marketing Guillaume Cartier said Australia plays a crucial role in the company’s long-term plans for growth and profitability.
 
“If you look at the mid-term plan … there are some regions which are more important, this is ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) and this is Oceania,” he said.
 
“I don’t think there is any other brand where Oceania is as important (as Mitsubishi), because if you look at the (annual) sales between Australia with 90,000 more or less and 15,000 in New Zealand – that’s 105,000 – Oceania’s weight is 10 per cent of our total volume.
 
“You don’t have any other brand like that.
 
“The good thing is, by having that situation, we are doing things specific to make sure we match the customers’ needs within Australia; same applies to ASEAN.”
 
The Triton is Mitsubishi Motors Australia Limited’s best-selling model by some margin, tallying 23,605 units last year for third place in the one-tonne pick-up segment behind the market-leading Toyota HiLux (47,093) and Ford Ranger (42,728). It also finished in 10th place for the overall market.
 
In the first 10 months of 2018, however, Mitsubishi has growth its Triton share even more, up 6.7 per cent to 20,492 new registrations and putting it on track for a year-end haul of about 25,490 units.
 
Meanwhile, MMC chief operating officer Trevor Mann said the updated Triton was expected to resonate with Australian customers.
 
“There’s a number of changes, overall we’ve made over 2400 changes to this vehicle, so it is a significant change and obviously a lot of those changes go to reinforce what we believe this car should be,” he said.
 
“Obviously, it’s a very, very important market for us. The Australian team have been influential in pushing their requirements on this vehicle.
 
“I think when you get the opportunity to drive it … (you will) see what the vehicle can offer, and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.”
 
Mitsubishi is expecting to continue the sales success of the current Triton when the new version launches in Australia towards the end of January, trading heavily on its aggressive new styling and redesigned front-end accessories such as bullbars and winches.
 
New safety technology, improved cabin amenities and engineering changes designed to improve ride comfort and refinement, handling and braking performance are also key elements of the overhaul.  
 
In line with the upgrade, the Australian subsidiary is likely to slightly increase pricing across the Triton range, which currently kicks off from $22,490 plus on-road costs for the GLX 4x2 single cab – with a 94kW/194Nm 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and five-speed manual gearbox – and tops out with the $48,990 Exceed 4x4 twin cab with the current five-speed auto and 133kW/430Nm 2.4-litre turbo-diesel.
 
In Bangkok, Thailand, for the global reveal of the new model, GoAuto sampled the new Australian-spec Triton in strictly controlled off-road conditions for a limited time.
 
Aside from the cosmetic changes, the most obvious difference between the old and new model are the added rear-seat amenities, particularly the air vents that proved handy in Thailand’s humid climate.
 
The vents work well, too, with four levels of adjustability so occupants can find the right settings instead of simply turning the system on and off. 
 
Rear USB outlets and smartphone storage facilities front and rear are also welcome additions, along with new soft-touch and higher-grade materials – some with double-stitch detailing – that lift the ambience throughout the cabin.
 
For the driver, a new surround-view monitor proved especially useful when tackling the rough stuff in Thailand’s thick forests.
 
With a button on the steering wheel, the view can be switched between a birds-eye view and the front-facing camera, making it easy to avoid obstacles and tree branches.
 
The new off-road driving modes on Triton’s four-wheel-drive system – Gravel, Sand, Rock and Mud/Snow – also aid traction when off-roading, but we were not able to discern much of a difference between the settings during our brief time with the vehicle.
 
Mitsubishi says the various modes will vary torque between front and rear axles for improved traction in varying conditions, but we will have to wait until the new Triton touches down on local soil before passing a final verdict.
 
Similarly, claims of improved comfort and noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels will have to wait until the Australian launch on local roads, as the changes were not noticeable from the passenger seat during the on-road driving session.
 
Although the on-road section was undertaken in six-speed manual variants, the off-road section was conducted in the new six-speed automatic-equipped Tritons, but we did not pick up enough speed to engage the final ratio.
 
The new six-speed auto is likely to be fitted to higher grades in the Australian-spec Triton range. 
 
Overall, the new Triton delivers much of the same as before with plenty of off-road prowess thanks to the on-the-fly Easy Select 4WD system, but now with the added refinement and assurance of advanced safety equipment.
 
We can only applaud the inclusion of a front collision mitigation system, blind-spot monitoring with lane-change assist, rear cross-traffic alert and the surround-view monitor, although its availability might be restricted to only top-end variants. 
 
Our limited time in the Triton left us with a positive impression, with another caveat being that its updated cost is currently unknown. 
 
If MMAL can keep the price changes to a minimum, the freshly minted one-tonner is sure to maintain its strong position in the marketplace.

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