The Nation's Kingsley Wijayasinha takes Mitsubishi's all-new pickup for a spin and finds it will leave the outgoing model sniffing the dust, whether in terms of performance, comfort or convenience
After a long wait, Mitsubishi has launched the all-new Triton pickup truck that will dramatically help the company increase sales both in Thailand and overseas.
That’s because the manufacturing base of the Triton is here in Thailand, and the new truck will be exported to 150 countries around the world. They include Asean, Oceania, the Middle East, Europe and Latin America.
Mitsubishi was the first automobile company to use Thailand as a production and export hub, and since 2005 has exported more than 1.26 million Triton trucks from the kingdom.
Last month, Mitsubishi staged the launch of the new Triton, but only the double cab version was offered for sale. The single and space cab models will go on sale early next year.
Prices for the double cab model ranges from Bt791,000 for the entry-level model to Bt1.008 million for the range-topper that I recently drove, and was pretty much impressed.
The unique character of the Triton is the front-end design. Since the first model, its design was based on a futuristic theme, giving it a distinct look compared to its competitors in the market. However, the size of the pickup bed isn’t a strong point, leading to a big improvement in the new model.
While the first Triton model appeared as if it popped out from a Star Trek movie, the new model sheds off some of that flair, particularly where the front end is concerned. The large chrome front grille does add a strong character to the Triton, but it doesn’t match up with the sporty looking bumper, and many people agree. That’s why you see computer-generated pictures of the new Triton roaming the Internet displaying alternative front-end designs that lose the chrome grille. It looks much better.
Nevertheless the new model is capable of attracting attention. During the three-day test drive, I once parked it in front of a convenience store and came back to see people checking it out with great appreciation.
The new Triton is larger than its predecessor, boasting a wider cabin that is also quieter when travelling at highway speeds. In the double cab, the rear passengers also get comfortable seats with a centre armrest and cupholders.
The interior design is neat and the materials used look good. A large touch screen on the centre console is flanked by air vents, which may cause your left hand to freeze from time to time, Nevertheless, you can play DVDs and stream music via Bluetooth, not to mention the navigation system offered as standard. The screen also doubles as a backup monitor when you shift into reverse.
The climate control system is dual-zone and powerful, and you also get keyless entry with a push-start button.
The Triton gets a new power plant that Mitsubishi says comes from a new family of clean diesel engines. The 2.4-litre MIVEC (Mitsubishi Innovative Valve Timing Electronic Control System) engine pumps out 181 horsepower and 430Nm of torque, which may not be the highest in the market, but drive it and you won’t be asking for more.
The engine block is made from aluminium, which helps save as much as 35kg, and the compression ratio has been lowered to 15.5:1. It also gets steel cylinder liners and timing chain, which is durable and helps lower maintenance costs.
The variable geometry turbocharger offers instantaneous response, and the Triton accelerates really well. According to Mitsubishi, the engine is equipped with a high-pressure 200MPa commonrail injection system that dramatically improves combustion and offers 20-per-cent improvement in fuel economy and 17-per-cent improvement in carbon dioxide levels compared with the previous model.
However, the mediocre fuel economy isn’t gonna amaze you like an Isuzu truck, and most of the time you’ll likely be speeding in the Triton anyway due to its punchy engine. I can easily imagine Triton fruit or seafood delivery trucks tailgating me on the highway after the single and space cab models are launched next year.
I personally dislike pickup trucks for their bumpy ride (don’t forget they’re built for carrying goods), but the suspension set-up in the Triton did amaze me. After leaving the Mitsubishi Motors Thailand head office, which is closer to Ayutthaya than Bangkok, I could easily feel the Triton’s suspension absorbing road vibrations surprisingly well. And even on speed bumps that usually send shocks up your stomach, the Triton irons its out perfectly. This is a four-wheel-drive model with electrically operated drive modes, and although I didn’t take it off-roading, I’m sure the Triton will be a very pleasant truck to be in when the going gets tough.
Apart from the 4WD system, you also get a limited slip differential, Hill Start Assist and traction control, as well as Active Stability Control.
Brakes are front discs and rear drums, equipped with ABS, EBD and Brake Assist.
The turning circle is usually a problem with 4WD trucks, but the Triton’s 11.8-metre turning circle beats the competition (for example, the Ford Ranger Wild Trak’s 12.4 metres).
Apart from smart entry, there’s a healthy number of features that makes life easier in the Triton too, such as automatic windshield wipers, 3-blink turn signal and back-up sensor. After the engine has been shut off, there are still things that the Triton can do, such as automatically turning off the headlights if you forget to turn them off. The power windows can still be operated within 30 seconds and the cabin lights dim slowly after you close the door.
The new Triton is a big improvement over the outgoing model whether in terms of performance, comfort or convenience. This is a truck that the large number of loyal Mitsubishi fans will rejoice in.
Mitsubishi Triton Double Cab GLS LTD
Engine: 4-cylinder DOHC 16-valve MIVEC VG Turbo Intercooler
Bore and stroke: 86.0x105.1mm
Compression ratio: 15.5:1
Max power: 181ps/3,500rpm
Max torque: 430Nm/2,500rpm
Transmission: 5-speed automatic
Suspension (f/r): double wishbone, coil spring, stabilizer/leaf spring, shock absorber
Steering: powered rack-and-pinion
Turning circle: 11.8 metres
Brakes (f/r): vented disc/drum
Track (f/r): 1,515/1,520
Wheels: 17-in alloy
Fuel tank capacity: 75 litres
Price: Bt1.008 million
Distributor: Mitsubishi Motor Thailand Co Ltd