Ris­ing to the chal­lenge

Mit­subishi won’t let the econ­omy get it down, writes NEIL McDON­ALD

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Special Report -

THE rugged Tri­ton ute is mor­ph­ing into a fam­ily wagon that will join the Mit­subishi line-up early next year. The Chal­lenger takes its vis­ual cues from the Thai-built Tri­ton and also shares its un­der­pin­nings, in­clud­ing en­gines.

Mit­subishi Aus­tralia pres­i­dent Robert McEniry says the wagon will slide in be­tween the Out­lander and Pa­jero.

‘‘It will be po­si­tioned to com­ple­ment the Pa­jero in terms of spec­i­fi­ca­tions,’’ McEniry says.

Even with the winds of change buf­fet­ing the car in­dus­try, McEniry be­lieves forg­ing ahead with ve­hi­cles such as the Chal­lenger is im­por­tant, par­tic­u­larly for an im­porter.

‘‘You can put your head in the sand in th­ese in­ter­est­ing times or you can lift the pace. We think we have some op­por­tu­ni­ties as we go for­ward over the next 12 months,’’ he says.

In­side, the Chal­lenger cabin bor­rows the Tri­ton look. It will be avail­able with ei­ther five or sev­enseat ca­pa­bil­ity. The rear seats in the five-seater can slide 150mm for­wards and back­wards.

Called the Pa­jero Sport in other mar­kets, the Chal­lenger name was dis­con­tin­ued here last March.

At 4695mm, the Chal­lenger is 205mm shorter than the Pa­jero and 60mm nar­rower. It has a 2800mm wheel­base, 75mm longer than the pre­vi­ous Chal­lenger, which trans­lates into more in­te­rior room.

Mit­subishi Aus­tralia is still work­ing through the lo­cal busi­ness plan and spec­i­fi­ca­tions, ac­cord­ing to spokes­woman Lenore Fletcher.

‘‘I re­ally can’t tell you about five or seven seats be­cause I don’t know what is go­ing to be avail­able,’’ she says.

How­ever, like other mar­kets it is ex­pected to have a choice of 2.5-litre and 3.2-litre com­mon-rail tur­bod­iesels well as a 3.5-litre V6 petrol en­gine.

It should work out: the Mit­subishi Chal­lenger is based on the work­horse Tri­ton base.

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