Mitsubishi aims high with Triton
FORD is looking to stand out from the crowd with its new German-built Focus small car, which went on sale this month.
The revised line-up will feature three hatch variants – Trend, ST-Line and Titanium – but two other variants will join the lineup next year.
Ford is targeting SUV buyers with the added practicality of a new wagon MITSUBISHI has adopted a safety-first approach to its vital new Triton ute as it aims to close the gap to Toyota’s HiLux and Ford’s Ranger.
The new Triton will have more driver safety aids than any ute on the market.
The list of available tech includes autonomous emergency braking, lane departure and blind spot warning, automatic highbeam dipping, rear cross traffic alert and a bird’seye view camera for parking,
It also introduces new tech to detect unintended acceleration and kill power if it senses a potential crash.
Most of the safety equipment is reserved for the more family-focused GLS grade but an $800 optional pack including AEB and lane departure warning will be available on workhorse derivatives.
The extra protection comes at a cost, as prices variant in ST-Line trim and a new high-riding Active, similar to the Subaru XV.
“The Focus Active is a strong addition to the lineup and is a great match to the active lives of Australians,” said Ford Australia boss Kay Hart.
“The ST-Line hatch, STLine wagon and Active hatch (are) all designed to offer greater versatility and adaptability.”
Hatch variants are priced from $25,990 before rise by between $500 and $3000 across the range.
That brings the rangetopping XLS Premium – previously called the Exceed – to a recommended retail price of $51,990, edging closer to the SR5 HiLux and Ranger XLT, which hover around the mid$50,000 mark.
Offsetting the price rise is an introductory deal that includes a tempting seven-year, 150,000km warranty and four years of free roadside assistance.
The deal will be available until June 30.
Mitsubishi has long sold the Triton as a value proposition with sharp drive-away deals but chief operating officer Tony Principe said the techladen XLS Premium can now compete on its own terms against the SR5 and XLT big guns.
“If you look at the market, we dominate the $35,000 to $40,000 range,” he said.
“We're probably getting 50 per cent market share. We haven’t really had on-road costs for the base Trend, $28,990 in ST-Line guise (the wagon adds $1000) and $34,490 for the top Titanium.
The front-wheel drive Active – the hopeful star of Ford’s new small car lineup – starts at $29,990.
The main aim of the Active is to draw buyers into the Focus range rather than the wider SUV market. With 34mm of extra ground clearance compared to the hatch and much product in that $40,000-plus range.”
Apart from the new look, the Triton has been raised slightly for better clearance and off-road ability.
The engine has been wagon, the Active will give potential SUV buyers the sought-after elevated driving position.
Ford has beefed up the Active’s image with front and rear skid plate inserts in contrasting finish, black wheel arches, twin chrome tailpipes and 17-inch alloy wheels.
Powering the Active, in common with the rest of the Focus range, will be a 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo (134kW/240Nm) tweaked to provide better response off the mark, particularly when laden or towing.
More expensive models are fitted with terrain response tech to adjust throttle response and traction matched to an eight-speed automatic.
Two unique driving modes – Slippery and Trail – aid the Active’s off-road capabilities by increasing grip in slippery conditions and allowing for smoother driving on soft surfaces such as sand or dirt.
Inside, the Active scores the maker’s latest infotainment tech.
Its eight-inch display gives access to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. control to cope with different surfaces including mud, sand and rocks.
Inside, there is more padding and softer-touch materials, in keeping with its dual role as a workhorse and family vehicle.
A wireless smartphone charging pad, steering wheel mounted paddleshifters and voice activated navigation are among other interior highlights.
The Focus range gets autonomous emergency braking and lane keep assist as standard. Adaptive cruise control, blind spot warning and rear cross traffic alert are bundled in a $1250 option on all but the range-topping Titanium hatch.
More thought has been given to rear passengers. There are new USB connections, a rear smartphone tray and vents incorporated into the roof pump air into the second row.
The extra equipment, revised gearing and a more realistic fuel consumption test standard have led to an increase in fuel consumption from 7.6L/100km to 8.6L.
The other bad news is a drop in payload of roughly 60kg to 900kg.
With Triton leading the way, Mitsubishi is on track for a sales record this year.
In the combined ute and SUV market, it trails only Toyota and this success has moved it past Ford and Holden into the number four spot.
The brand has all but abandoned conventional cars; the last examples of the longstanding Lancer will roll out of dealerships early in the new year, leaving the Mirage as the sole passenger car.