DOES SIZE MAT­TER?

Mit­subishi’s new Triton is the light­weight of this bunch, but does that re­ally mat­ter?

4 x 4 Australia - - Driven -

LOAD TEST

THE Triton was a new de­sign in early 2015. Most no­tably it got a new-gen­er­a­tion 2.4-litre en­gine, the small­est of our test ve­hi­cles with the ex­cep­tion of the Navara, which is only 2.3 litres but packs twin tur­bos for ex­tra grunt.

The Triton is no­tably smaller and lighter than the Ranger and BT-50 in par­tic­u­lar, but also smaller than the Colorado and the D-max.

The Triton’s tub has four small and less use­ful tie-downs and, once loaded, the Triton’s rear sank some 105mm, which is not far shy of twice the droop ob­served in the utes least im­pacted by the same load. Trou­ble is, the Triton has a no­tably shorter wheel­base and most of the tub is be­hind the line of the rear axle.

The 800kg pal­let plus driver, ob­server and tow bar bumped into the Triton’s le­gal pay­load. The base-spec model is okay but the top-spec Ex­ceed falls 40kg short – so tech­ni­cally our ob­server should have had to get out and walk!

Head­ing up our hill with that 800kg in the tub the Triton felt nose-up, although the steer­ing feel and gen­eral chas­sis sta­bil­ity re­mained okay even as the rear sus­pen­sion bot­tomed out over the big­ger bumps.

Worth not­ing is that the Triton is the only ute to of­fer full-time 4x4, via Mit­subishi’s Su­per Se­lect sys­tem, which also has a 2WD mode. On dry roads this is no big deal, but in the wet or when tow­ing heavy loads, full-time 4x4 brings sig­nif­i­cant driv­abil­ity and safety ad­van­tages.

While the Triton’s chas­sis cer­tainly re­acted to the weight of the pal­let, the 2.4-litre en­gine

made a much bet­ter fist of things. It needed more revs than the other en­gines to do the job – max­i­mum torque is at 2500rpm – but nev­er­the­less it still did it well.

While it needs to rev, it’s happy do­ing it and re­mained quiet and re­fined. If there’s one way to make a smooth-run­ning and quiet diesel, it’s to drop the ca­pac­ity to min­imise the in­her­ent vi­bra­tion of an in­line four con­fig­u­ra­tion. A big four will vi­brate more than a lit­tle one, it’s as sim­ple as that.

The en­gine does well de­spite hav­ing only five ra­tios to play with in a gear­box that now feels old in terms of shift quality. One pos­i­tive here is that the Triton is the only ute with pad­dle shifters, which are more than handy for con­trol­ling de­scents, given the Triton doesn’t of­fer much en­gine brak­ing.

TOW TEST

I HAVE to ad­mit I wasn’t hold­ing high hopes for the Triton’s per­for­mance. It’s specced for lighter tow­ing, and the short wheel­base and long rear over­hang has it pegged as not be­ing the most wor­thy of tow­ing con­tenders.

Well, I was most sur­prised. Our lighter 2800kg trailer didn’t have as much ver­ti­cal im­pact on the Triton’s pos­te­rior as I thought. It knew it was there but it didn’t drag its bum on the ground.

The big star is the per­for­mance of the Triton’s 133kw 2.4-litre en­gine. The diminu­tive donk punched above its weight once it got some boost and rpm and its 430Nm came into play. Sure, it’s a revvy lit­tle unit and suf­fers from turbo lag off the line, but at peak torque be­tween 2500 and 3000rpm it re­ally steps up to the mark.

While the gear­box needs a nudge to do the right thing, this was made easy by the rather nifty pad­dle shifters on the steer­ing col­umn, mak­ing man­ual in­ter­ven­tion just a fin­ger­tip away. Mit­subishi is to be com­mended for leav­ing those pad­dles fixed to the col­umn, rather than spin­ning with the wheel. It ain’t no sports car and the fixed pad­dle po­si­tion is much more prac­ti­cal on a 4x4 load hauler.

The smaller ca­pac­ity means the en­gine doesn’t give much back pres­sure, so lean­ing on it to try and hold the Triton back on the down­hill run while un­der load re­sulted in higher revs, rather than any real brak­ing.

Tow­ing its rated max­i­mum,

the 2.4L Triton sur­prised with a strong per­for­mance.

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