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First Drive: 2019 Mitsubishi Triton

Mitsubishi has taken bold steps with the redesign of the Triton, just two years after South Africa received the fifth-generation model, and, if everyone is honest, it’s a great improvement. That wide and angular new face with its high-set headlights, daytime running lights, and flashes of brightwork, is taking no prisoners. Visually, it is complemented by heavily flared wheel arches, a crisp shoulder line and redesigned tail lights. The previous undercut join between cab and load body is gone. The result? A beefy-looking bakkie that looks like it can duke it out with anything out there.

An interior makeover is well judged, with soft-touch materials on the centre console, armrests and handbrake, a neat textured aluminium gear surround and new frame on the HVAC controls and air outlets. At last, too, there’s a much improved touchscreen infotainment system with radio/CD and Bluetooth, though the navigation and Apple Car Play/Android auto set-up is optional. Get it.  With all the added comforts like keyless entry, a rear-view camera, leather seats and  easy-to-use steering controls, it all feels very modern, unfussy and superbly functional. Apart from nifty new features like a soft-sprung tailgate (it uses a damper), there is a full suite of safety features (seven airbags, RISE – Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution body construction, side impact bars), along with driver aids including Active Stability and Traction Control, ABS brakes and hill start assist.

Mitsubishi has chosen to stick with the well-proven 2.4-litre MIVEC turbodiesel, which puts out a sprightly 133kW at 3500rpm and 430Nm of torque at 2500rpm. It’s a responsive mill that is also very frugal, rated to deliver 7.5 litres/100km. The main change it that’s it’s now available with a six-speed auto (up from the previous five-speed unit), which offers smooth changes through the power band and pretty seamless shifts. A great drivetrain combination; it’s worth the premium over the six-speed manual.

The Triton is a treat on tar and good gravel. It has plenty of get-up-and-go, it feels particularly well insulated, and Mitsubishi has improved braking performance with larger front discs and caliper pistons. Bigger dampers (with more oil) should improve the ride in heavy going. The braked towing capacity at 3100kg sounds on the safe side, but is lower than some of the rivals. At launch, a quick whip around a short obstacle course showed it is no slouch off-road. Ground clearance is 220mm, turning radius is 5.9 metres, the approach angle 28 degrees and breakover angle 25 degrees. It was useful to note the departure angle has been improved by one degree to 23 degrees. The rear end is long, but this has been addressed. The manual features a rear diff lock.

What sets the new Triton apart is added functionality built into the Super Select II All-Wheel-Drive system. This is a part-time system with a Torsen limited-slip centre diff, which enables use of 4 High on both hard and slippery surfaces, with a 40:60 front: rear torque distribution. The next level is 4HLc (high range with locked centre diff and 50:50 torque split between axles), with low range available in the 4LLc setting.

What is new on the latest automatic versions is a mode selector, offering four settings (Gravel, Mud/Snow, Sand and Rock), with the Rock setting only possible in low-range (4LLc). The selector controls engine, brake and transmission calibration to regulate wheel-slip. In operation, the system is simpler than it sounds, and offers plenty of options. The auto model has also been newly gifted Hill Descent Control, and on the launch course it proved very effective and quiet in operation .

While the changes appear small on this full import, the visual update inside and out, sturdy build, drivetrain tweaks, high kit levels and superb price/value offering makes this a desirable all-rounder.

RANGE AND PRICING

New Triton 2.4L DI-DC M/T 4×2 – R509 995

New Triton 2.4L DI-DC A/T 4×2 – R529 995

New Triton 2.4L DI-DC M/T 4×4 – R569 995

New Triton 2.4L DI-DC A/T 4×4 – R589 995

WARRANTY AND SERVICE

3 years or 100 000km warranty

5-year 90 000 km service plan

5-year unlimited mileage roadside assistance

Service intervals are every 10 000 km

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