Mit­subishi Tri­ton Ex­ceed


Wheels (Australia) - - First Drives - BM

THEY SAY sex sells, so why on earth is the di­vi­sively de­signed Mit­subishi Tri­ton a reg­u­lar podium vis­i­tor in the pick-up truck sales race?

Look past the styling and even a cur­sory glance at the Thai-made Tri­ton Ex­ceed’s spec sheet will re­veal sev­eral com­pelling truths.

At $48,000 all-in, the range flag­ship com­fort­ably un­der­cuts most mid-level ri­vals, and then packs a wal­lop with sat-nav, leather, heated front seats, cli­mate con­trol, re­v­erse cam­era, Ap­ple Carplay/ An­droid Auto, DAB+ dig­i­tal ra­dio, HDMI port, pad­dle shifters, key­less en­try/start, HID head­lights, side steps and a sports bar. Box-tick­ers will run out of ink cat­a­logu­ing this.

And that’s on top of Mit­subishi’s five-year/ 100,000km war­ranty. It’s clas­sic more-for-less mar­ket­ing. Even smaller al­loys than the class norm (at 17 inches) work quite nicely with the Tri­ton’s tighter pro­por­tions.

But be­yond the low price and high fea­tures, the Ex­ceed also sur­passes ex­pec­ta­tions by be­ing con­sis­tently ca­pa­ble in al­most ev­ery area. And that’s a re­flec­tion on Mit­subishi’s ex­per­tise in light trucks, since this year marks 40 years of the L200/tri­ton.

Take the pack­ag­ing. Though among the small­est and nar­row­est of the as­sem­bled con­tenders (as well as the old­est, as the cur­rent fifth-gen Tri­ton re­leased in 2015 is ac­tu­ally a re­skin and re­vamp of the 2006 Mk4), the Ex­ceed is still am­ply ac­com­mo­dat­ing, thanks in part to well-padded seats, a thought­fully pre­sented dash­board boast­ing clear in­stru­ments, log­i­cal con­trol place­ment, am­ple com­part­ments to keep stuff in, and a fine driv­ing po­si­tion. Not the last word in moder­nity or style, it’s still all screwed to­gether well and seem­ingly made to last. A dig­i­tal speedo wouldn’t go amiss, though.

Per­haps un­ex­pect­edly, con­sid­er­ing its ad­vanc­ing years un­der­neath, the Tri­ton’s a bit of a treat to drive on the road, of­fer­ing punchy diesel flex­i­bil­ity (keep­ing the hard-charg­ing Colorado and Navara hon­est, if not the run­away Amarok, in its 9.8secto-100km/h per­for­mance), com­bined with what is ad­e­quate fuel con­sump­tion for some­thing with just five for­ward gears. Clearly each ra­tio has been well cho­sen. Lag is min­i­mal, there’s heaps of oomph read­ily avail­able for easy over­tak­ing, and me­chan­i­cal re­fine­ment at speed is com­mend­able.

There’s more too, like fairly di­rect and con­nected steer­ing, as­suredly con­tained han­dling, con­fi­dence­build­ing road­hold­ing, and a firm but never jar­ring ride (no doubt the smaller wheels help here). As in most ar­eas, the Mit­subishi rarely puts a foot wrong dy­nam­i­cally. The set of com­po­nents may not be the new­est but they ob­vi­ously still work well.

It’s only when you dig a lit­tle deeper that the Tri­ton’s lack of pol­ish be­comes re­ally ap­par­ent. Com­pared with the larger and more civilised trucks on test, there is no real respite from that firm ride for rear-seat pas­sen­gers, cush­ion sup­port favours the smaller statured out back, ad­vanced driver-as­sist safety tech like AEB and adap­tive cruise con­trol sim­ply don’t ex­ist and the diesel at idle is a long way from hushed.

Speak­ing of seek­ing the seren­ity, the Mit­subishi turns out to be one of those quiet achiev­ers that grows in es­ti­ma­tion long af­ter the bells and whis­tles, and low ask­ing price, have grabbed your at­ten­tion. Maybe our ex­pec­ta­tions were set lower than in the oth­ers, but as each tester spent more time in the Tri­ton, it be­came clear that real beauty does ex­ist be­yond the gawky styling.

Not so long ago, Mit­subishi was one of our lo­cal man­u­fac­tur­ers, of­fer­ing hon­est, no-non­sense value trans­porta­tion for gen­er­a­tions of Aus­tralians. And some of those char­ac­ter traits re­main in to­day’s Tri­ton. Its ap­peal is any­thing but skin deep.

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