MITSUBISHI HUNTAWAY 2
Last year, Mitsubishi built a wild, one-off Triton ‘tufftruck’ and called it the Huntaway. This year the company is building 20 production versions. NZ4WD editor Ross MacKay explains why.
No-one reading this magazine needs to be told that utes – specifically modern on-demand 4WD turbo-diesel double cabs – are THE thing to be seen in these days.
In a word, they are ‘ hot’ and everyone, from the original target market of farmers, rural contractors and recreational motorcycle riders, to citybased tradies and lifestylers, seems to either already have, or be seriously thinking about buying, one.
In April, nine of the top ten selling commercial vehicles
were turbo-diesel doublecab utes, the 2552 units sold accounting for a whopping 72 percent of the light commercial market.
They are – in short – a phenomenon – and if you don’t have at least one in your range ( and here you have to feel for the likes of Honda, Hyundai and Kia) well, you can imagine their frustration can’t you?
Making matters worse for the makers and sellers of ‘conventional’ cars and even SUVs here is that even a
cursory examination of the new ‘ute’ market highlights an amazing diversity in look, feel, price and dealer support.
Take – for the purposes of this story – Mitsubishi NZ. Roll up at one of its many dealers around the county and you can pick and choose from 15 different versions of a turbodiesel Triton ute.
Some – like the $ 36,790 2WD single-cab are billy basic, but others like the $ 62,990 range-topping 4WD VRX auto look, ride, handle and accommodate up to five
adults as well as any similarly priced SUV.
That said, the Triton is rarely mentioned in the same breath as Ford’s runaway market leader, the muscular Ranger, or even Toyota’s former 30-year sector #1, the Hilux.
The Triton is ever so slightly smaller ( shorter and narrower) for a start and though a restyle four years ago now gave it a more contemporary, less polarising look, it still lacks the broadshouldered, barrel-chested bulk that the red-blooded
overwhelmingly male buyer demographic identifies with so strongly.
It is still a top seller – # four in year-to-date sales behind only Ranger, Hilux and Colorado for an eight percent share of the local light commercial market – but like anyone in the game, Mitsubishi would like to sell more.
Which is where the original, one-off, Huntaway came in.
With the benefit of hindsight it probably was a bit OTT ( Over
the top). By significantly widening the track and creating a unique set of ‘ wide-body’ guards front and rear it gave the Triton attitude with a capital A, and the feedback from punters, both at Fieldays – where it was officially launched – and on a nationwide tour of dealerships immediately afterwards, was overwhelmingly positive.
Which left a ‘situation’ the sales and marketing team at head office in Porirua had to address.
I use the word ‘situation’
because it was either a problem or an opportunity.
As MMNZ Head of Marketing and Corporate Affairs Reece Congdon says; “On the one hand the first Huntaway did exactly what we had hoped it would, which was getting people talking about Triton and thinking about it as a basis for their own ‘ tuff truck.’
“On the other hand so many people were asking us ‘where can we buy one?’ that we had to think seriously about what we could do to address that demand.”
The answer was to build a limited run ( 20) of second-gen Huntaways for launch and sale at Fieldays this year.
Like the wild, and very much bespoke, original Huntaway the gen-2 version is based around the same wide-body kit created by Ben Martin of Customs Body Shop and now replicated for production purposes by another Upper Hutt business, Carboglass.
This time though the production versions are based round the mid-range GLX-R turbo-diesel double cab ( rather
than the VRX top-of-the-line auto) and though it still looks, taller, wider and tougher than the model on which it is based, the realities of even a limited production run for sale mean that the Gen-2 is closer to GLXR-spec than the original was to VRX.
Where the original used spacers to achieve the widetrack stance, this time around the same effect has been achieved by using wheels with a greater negative offset.
Again, though it takes a practised eye to realise that there is, in fact, a difference, the wheel and tyre package is also less extreme. Last time around the wheel Huntaway 1 rolled on a 20x9 DTM Fuel Ripper alloy running a 35 in. dia Atturo Trail Blade M/ T. This time the wheel is an 18 x 10 (-24) DTM alloy with a 33 in.
dia. Atturo Trail Blade A/ T.
You still notice the lift straightaway, but this time the total rise is a more daily-driver practical 50mm, rather than the 100mm total ( 50 in a body life, 50 in the suspension) of the one-off original.
The lift has been achieved via the simple expedient of fitting a pair of 23mm spacers between the top of the struts and the body at the front, and slotting in a set of lift blocks and longer U-bolts between the axle and leaf spring cluster at the back.
A set of longer, RAW brand, shock absorbers takes care of the damping duties at the back with droop sorted by a set of shorter aftermarket urethane bump stops.
At a glance
At a glance Huntaway II looks virtually identical to Huntaway
I. There are some differences, however. Up front there’s now an Ironman Bullbar with extra LED Driving lights which integrates beautifully with the wide-body guards.
The familiar ( and now very much signature) four mm thick painted steel, Hunt awaybranded steep bash plate is back for another year, as is the snorkel, a tray liner, Fully Equipped Defender Hard Lid with 50kg-rated rail kit, and MCC Jack rear bar.
Missing the cut this year is the Rhino Rack Pioneer Roof Tray and Narva Light Bar, RVE Vehicle Enhancements leather interior, and the trick fourwheel-disc Pajero Sport/ Evo 8 brake upgrade.
What the 20 lucky punters who get to own one of the strictly limited edition ($ 69,990 + ORC) Huntaways this time around however is ultimate factorybacked peace of mind.
Standard GLX-R 4WD-spec includes a full suite of electronic driver aids which includes Mitsubishi All-Terrain Technology, which integrates nine different systems, ensuring surefootedness on any surface as well as Trailer Stability Assist and Electronic Brake Force Distribution.
Ready to roll
All the modifications have been checked and cleared by an LVVTA certifier with each ute getting its own unique cert plate. Huntaway II is available in four colours – black, white, blue and titanium – and will be on display at site J30-34 at Fieldays this year.
Production version also gets new front and rear bars. Tray liner and Hard Lid with rails.
Wider, broader shouldered stance and track, plus lift and wide body fenders give Mitsubishi real presence.
Distinctive red bashplate combines form as well as function.
Huntaway package 18 x 10 (-24) DTM alloy wheels with 33-inch diametre. Atturo Trail Blade A/T tyres.