Plat­inum Ve­hi­cle Sales trans­formed this Delica peo­ple-mover into an all-ter­rain cam­per.

4 x 4 Australia - - Driven -

THIS snub-nosed, boxy Bushmaster be­gan its au­to­mo­tive ca­reer in Ja­pan as a stock-white Mit­subishi Delica. Some 45,000km later it landed in Aus­tralia, where the Delica 4x4 lads at Plat­inum Ve­hi­cle Sales trans­formed the peo­ple-mover into an ad­ven­ture-mo­bile. They’re keen to show how these sec­ond-hand im­ports can be cus­tomised for in­di­vid­ual re­quire­ments and the matte-orange Mit­subishi Delica Bushmaster here is one with the lot – plus a bit more. It has 44,895km on the clock and, with pretty much ev­ery­thing thrown at it, a $58,888 price tag. Sounds a bit rich un­til you start adding it up. There’s a straight, cor­ro­sion-free body cov­ered with an orange and grey wrap, and there’s also a 35mm sus­pen­sion lift sit­ting on good-look­ing 16-inch CSA black al­loy wheels shod with Maxxis 980 Bravo AT tyres.

The side­steps are the low­est points of the rig and pro­vide some pro­tec­tion for the en­gine, trans­mis­sion and driv­e­train; but they’re a frac­tion too low for hang-ups in the rough. Stan­dard Delica ground clear­ance is – on a ve­hi­cle us­ing a plat­form sim­i­lar to Mit­subishi’s Out­lander – 210mm.

Up front is a JAOS nudge bar, while a roof-wide light bar sits up top, along with a rooftop tent and a side awning mounted on a trio of Whisp­bar roof racks. Down the back of the 4.7-me­tre-long van sits a tow bar and a lad­der on the one-piece, lift-up tail­gate.

With three rows of seats, the Delica is touted as an eight-seater, but seven would be more com­fort­able. The back row can be folded up to the sides for ex­tra cargo space, while lay­ing the two back rows down flat pro­vides space for a dou­ble bed. Cur­tains for all back win­dows are part of the deal, and the slid­ing rear doors have elec­tric as­sis­tance for open­ing and clos­ing.

Ja­panese luxo touches con­tinue in­side with black leather seats and a ver­i­ta­ble for­est of high-gloss ‘tim­ber’ trim fin­ishes for the dash­board. Two big glove­boxes and a small­ish in­fo­tain­ment screen for au­dio and satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion fill up the dash­board. Con­trols, in par­tic­u­lar the shift lever for the six-speed auto, fall nicely to hand. Don’t ex­pect much in the way of English script on the sat-nav – the ra­dio will also throw up a cou­ple of Ja­panese fre­quen­cies before set­tling on a lo­cal sta­tion.

Fire up this Delica’s 2.4-litre petrol en­gine, tucked away in that snub nose (there’s a 2.2-litre turbo-diesel op­tion) and head

on out. It’s a fa­mil­iar pow­er­plant found in other Mit­subishi mod­els such as Lancer and Out­lander, and it pushes out 125kw at 6000rpm and 230Nm. Helped along by pad­dle-shifters for the CVT trans­mis­sion, the Bushmaster had no trou­ble keep­ing up with town or high­way traf­fic.

In stan­dard trim it weighs 1800kg. Fuel con­sump­tion on a com­bined run with­out too much 4W ding should see it sit around 10.0L/100km. There’s an 80-litre fuel tank and the hand­book rec­om­mends 95RON. Ser­vices are six months or ev­ery 10,000km.

With gusty winds and a light steer­ing feel there was no es­cap­ing the Bushmaster’s high ride height – the tent op­tion takes its over­all height be­yond two me­tres and, at an in­di­cated 100km/h, the light bar sets up a lit­tle whis­tle.

How­ever, the front-drive van set­tles into a safe and com­fort­able gait on for­est tracks where there’s no wind fac­tor. Ride com­fort is good over mi­nor cor­ru­ga­tions, and the high ride height pro­vides great vis­i­bil­ity to the front and sides. The ex­tra-short bon­net makes it eas­ier to look out for pit­falls on the track, while also mak­ing it eas­ier to turn in tight spots. All this, plus dial-up 4WD and dif­fer­en­tial locks (but no low range), add

con­fi­dence when tack­ling slushy tracks.

The Maxxis tread de­sign is a boon, but we’re lim­ited by clear­ance. Wheel ar­tic­u­la­tion is okay, just not great. If tak­ing the Delica to more de­mand­ing tracks is planned, then an even big­ger lift is ad­vised – we’re not sure how that would af­fect the car’s dy­nam­ics.

There is a small gam­ble in driv­ing off in a non-fac­tory im­port, but there’s a fair bit of me­chan­i­cal com­mon­al­ity with other fac­tory-sup­plied Mit­subishis. Plus the com­pany has a fair rep­u­ta­tion for re­li­a­bil­ity and dura­bil­ity.

The Delica is easy to drive, han­dles well enough and per­forms well with a light load aboard. There’s a heap of cabin space in a rea­son­ably com­pact body, and there’s a tonne of dress-up op­tions avail­able to turn one of these from fam­ily wagon to full-time ex­plorer.

Per­haps have the satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion con­verted to the lo­cal lingo, or sim­ply re­placed, before head­ing out bush.


1 2 3

Dial-up 4WD and dif­fer­en­tial locks add con­fi­dence when tack­ling slushy tracks 1 2 3

1: Drag and clear­ance are the trade-offs for pent­house ac­com­mo­da­tion. 2: LED light­bar of­fers huge il­lu­mi­na­tion. 3: The whole car is vinyl­wrapped, so it can change colour – un­der the SES orange, it’s bridal white.

Nei­ther wheel travel nor ground clear­ance are great, but stubby over­hangs help.

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