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Absolutely not a rehashed Triton, says Mitsubishi

Mitsubishi execs defend new Triton, addressing misconceptions at a preview drive in SA

6 Dec 2023

STILL a few months from local launch in February next year, Mitsubishi’s new generation Triton one-tonne 4x4 ute has been driven by GoAuto at a closed-road facility in the wilds of South Australia.


The early drive – which you can read more about from Friday – gave us access to Mitsubishi Australia executives and an opportunity to answer some questions about the new Triton; and to address some misconceptions.


First and foremost, Mitsubishi Australia’s senior manager of product strategy, Owen Thomson, cleared up the notion held by some that the new generation six Triton is simply a rehashed version of the previous model.


“Absolutely not,” he said when the question was put to him.


“This is a new model from the ground up. Mitsubishi has a policy of utilising a given chassis over two generations of Triton with the second version a revised and enhanced version of the first.


“In this case, the new Triton marks the start of that cycle, so it’s completely new though still a body on frame ladder construction. We had a clean slate when preparing for this model that started back in 2017 and we have been able to upgrade it as technology improved.


“The chassis is now one of the strongest in class and a rigid platform on which to build the new model with upgraded payload and towing capacity as well as vastly improved suspension, steering and other dynamics.”


But the model retains drum rear brakes and other components that seem incongruous on a 2024 new generation one-tonne ute.


“We use them (the rear drums) because of serviceability and cost,” said Mr Thomson, adding that rear drums are as good as discs in heavy conditions and more protected in other environments.


GoAuto also asked Mr Thomson about the same-capacity engine and series nomenclature as the previous 2.4-litre unit, which adds a secondary turbocharger this time around.


“I can tell you there’s nothing the same between the older engine and this one apart from bore centres and the stroke, everything else is changed and improved,” he explained.


“We wanted to reduce friction inside to gain efficiency and have used better pistons, conrods, crank and even changed the roller rockers for self-adjusting hydraulic lifters along with other measures.”


The new Triton’s twin turbo system uses a variable geometry (VGT) small turbo for low engine speeds to give quick spool and avoid turbo lag, while the larger waste-gated turbo is for the mid- to high-range engine speeds.


This arrangement provides a flat torque curve that peaks at a low 1500rpm running through to 2750rpm with engine redline at a relatively low 4000rpm. Though not quite matching the benchmark 500Nm torque output for the segment at 470Nm, the new Triton is right on the money in power terms at 150kW.


“We have deliberately flattened the torque curve on new Triton to fulfil its workhorse role, easily haul heavy loads and for better economy and off-road performance,” detailed Mr Thomson.


Mitsubishi Australia tapped the current Triton owner cohort, including fleets and dealers, to refine the new model’s specs, which informed an increased payload to more than a tonne, increased power and torque outputs, greater towing capacity (to 3500kg), and improved handling, (electric) steering and ride characteristics.


Niggling problems with the current Triton’s drivetrain vibration off idle have been fully addressed in the new model through realigning the tail shaft.


Mr Thomson said Mitsubishi had benchmarked a number of competitors “raising the bar” in a number of key areas including driver and passenger amenity, smooth running, and readily accessible low-end torque, as well as reliability enhancement exemplified in the larger suspension dampers, and revised six-speed automatic transmission.


“A six-speed auto was retained because of the way this engine delivers its power and torque, so a more complex, heavier and expensive eight- or 10-speed auto was deemed unnecessary,” he added Mr Thomson.


In terms of crash safety, the new-gen Triton will be ANCAP crash tested by mid-April next year with the expectation of a five-star rating.


The model has been engineered to achieve this rating at a high level according to Mr Thomson as it features a broadened safety suite that now includes front cross-traffic alert and a driver monitoring system in addition to forward collision mitigation with pedestrian detection, cyclist detection, and junction assist, rear AEB, and a centre airbag.


Some ADAS features are switchable with the driver monitoring system of particular interest to members of the media on the SA drive loop. Yawning for example, triggers the monitor warning.


Mitsubishi Motors Australia CEO Shaun Westcott attended the press conference and the drive loop in his corporate Outlander PHEV (which he drove through the sand hills) and was asked about the possibility of a Ford Ranger Raptor or Toyota Hilux GR Sport competitor but was circumspect on the matter.


He said Mitsubishi’s priority at the moment was on its “workhorse” Triton range and that other models were on the way.


“We won’t rule out a performance model of Triton, but our focus is on mainstream models at launch. We are resetting Triton at the start, but other models are in the pipeline including lower spec’ 2WDs and tray back cab/chassis’ as well as other models,” he confirmed.


“We have a mitigating strategy for cab-chassis buyers with adequate stocks of the current model available until the new model arrives.”


In relation to producing a high-power engine for a performance Triton, Mr Westcott said, “It would be counter intuitive to spend on a new engine as we are looking at the eventual demise of ICE”.


“It is better to rework existing ICE engines in the current environment to improve fuel efficiency, emissions and overall reliability,” he clarified.


As part of the Renault/Mitsubishi/Nissan alliance, Mitsubishi has a variety of high output ICE engines potentially available for a performance oriented “hero” Triton including the 3.0-litre petrol twin turbo V6 found in Nissan’s Z sports car and other models… with over 300kW.


But that’s another story…


You can read more about the preview drive of the all-new 2024 Mitsubishi Triton in the GoAuto Review section from Friday.

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