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.

NZ4WD - - CONTENTS - Story by Ross MacKay. Pho­tos by RM & Mit­subishi

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.

Wide track

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.

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