The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - JA­SON WOOSEY

THERE’S no such thing as be­ing fashionably late in the mo­tor in­dus­try, but there is at least one good thing that came out of the de­layed in­tro­duc­tion of Mit­subishi’s all-new Tri­ton.

Wait­ing this long, for the rand to fi­nally al­low the pric­ing sums to work out, has al­lowed Mit­subishi to in­tro­duce its new bakkie with Mit­subishi’s so­phis­ti­cated new 2.4-litre Mivec tur­bod­iesel en­gine, rather than the pre­vi­ous-gen­er­a­tion 2.5-litre unit that was ear­marked for our mar­ket.

So now it’s fi­nally here, in dou­ble cab guise at least - with club cab and sin­gle cab de­riv­a­tives set to fol­low later in the year - and it’s priced slightly be­low its key ri­vals with four high-spec 2.4 diesel mod­els (giv­ing you usual the 4x2/4x4, man­ual/auto choice) for be­tween R479 900 and R559 900.

The so-called ‘J’ de­sign side pro­file al­lowed de­sign­ers to re­tain a rel­a­tively short wheel­base while still procur­ing gen­er­ous rear legroom and a best-in-class seat­ing an­gle, but this time they’ve done this with­out mak­ing the ve­hi­cle look like a ba­nana.

Mit­subishi ad­mits that many pre­vi­ous own­ers were some­what put off by the pre­vi­ous model’s de­sign and the new one should prove a lot more palat­able, if a lit­tle in­nocu­ous even, if we’re look­ing at it from the front.

But the big draw­card will be the new 2.4-litre en­gine, which is good for 133kW at 3500rpm and 430Nm at 2500rpm, putting it right up there with the 2.8-litre Hilux (130kW and 420 to 450Nm) and 2-litre VW Amarok (132kW and 420Nm). Fea­tur­ing an all-alu­minium block, the unit weighs 30kg less than the old 2.5 and has an un­usu­ally low com­pres­sion ra­tio of 15.5:1. The en­gine can be mated to ei­ther a six-speed man­ual or five-speed au­to­matic gear­box.

At the Tri­ton’s lo­cal launch in Gaut­eng on Mon­day, I got to play with the new Tri­ton on a wide var- iety of roads and non-roads, oth­er­wise known as trails, and the new en­gine re­ally stood out for its over­all so­phis­ti­ca­tion. It’s quiet and smooth-revving for an oil burner and de­liv­ers oo­dles of torque from low down.

As one would ex­pect at this level of the bakkie game, it’s avail­able with a ca­pa­ble and com­pre­hen­sive four-wheel drive sys­tem, with four modes se­lectable via ro­tary switch, in­clud­ing the oblig­a­tory low-range for trail creep­ing. Yet while its re­spec­tive ap­proach and de­par­ture an­gles of 28 and 22 de­grees are com­pet­i­tive, its 215mm ground clear­ance is a bit lower than that of ri­vals. Still, the launch ve­hi­cles got through some rather un­for­giv­ing of­froad cour­ses near Hei­del­berg with­out in­ci­dent, well if you ig­nore a few scraped run­ning boards that is.

It’s not just ca­pa­ble in the bun­dus - on open tar stretches the Tri­ton im­pressed with its quiet­ness. Al­though as with any bakkie the ride can be a bit un­com­fort­able over harsh sur­faces, it proved rather de­cent on the high­way sec­tions. Con­tin­ued on page 2

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