TRITON GATHERS PACE

Mitsubishi grows its product range with careful selection to meet all interests

With all the heritage of off-road racing successes through the years, competing in events such as the Paris-Dakar Rally and, more locally, the Australian Safari Rallies, Mitsubishi has a huge storehouse of knowledge when it comes to its ute performance. Not surprisingly, this heritage is still obvious when evaluating the capability of the all-new Triton, particularly in the suspension design and with its latest engines and transmissions.

The first shipments of the latest, all-new Triton are now well established in the market, enabling the company to complete the range with the addition of further 4×2 and 4×4 variants.

In the 4×2 ute and cab/chassis segment Mitsubishi has been holding its own around fifth placing with an aMitsubishi_Triton_P1verage market share of 10.5 percent. In the 4×4 segment Triton has been performing more strongly, ranking in second place behind HiLux with 17 percent market share (YTD V-Facts July), and the new model can only be expected to grow that position.

In the light commercial segment it’s the diesel engine that rules the day. Private buyers are choosing diesel over petrol at a rate of 90 percent, with LPG accounting for barely one percent. In the company-owned business fleets the rate is 88 percent in favour of diesel, with LPG at 0.5 percent.

For petrol engine options to appeal to buyers it’s all a matter of purchase price. If there’s no question of covering longer distances, the appeal of better fuel economy and probable greater durability and longevity of a diesel engine doesn’t hold up to scrutiny, meaning that small capacity petrol engines take on a stronger significance.

With this in mind, Mitsubishi has added two new 4×2 Triton GLX variants to its 2016 line-up, with a new entry-level 2.4-litre petrol GLX Single Cab coming in with pricing that starts from $21,990 RRP, and a manual transmission version of the GLX Double Cab from $33,490 RRP. Fixed-price servicing for the first four years/60,000 km is set at $235.00 for each 15,000 km/12-month schedule.

As the entry-level model when it comes to pricing, the Triton’s 2.4-litre four-cylinder multi-point injection petrol engine with its five-speed manual gearbox conforms to Euro 5 emissions. Maximum power is 94 kW of power and peak torque is rated at 194 Nm. Its official consumption is 10.9 l/100 km and the CO2 emissions levels are 254 gm/km. The Triton 4×2 GLX 2.4 MT diesel continues to be available from $24,490 RRP.

The 4×4 GLX Double Cab range also grows, with the inclusion of a cab/chassis model powered by Triton’s new 2.4-litre diesel engine with six-speed manual transmission or optional five-speed auto. Pricing here starts at $36,240 for the Double Cab Chassis GLX 4×4 MT, rising to $38,470 for the five-speed automatic.

Mitsubishi_Triton_3Delivery has been working its way through the various models in the Triton line-up and has yet to evaluate the petrol versions. While there may be a preliminary buyer resistance to the idea of a diesel engine capacity being 2.4 litres, when through the years we’ve become accustomed to 3.0 and 3.2-litre options, this engine actually punches above its weight. When teamed with the five-speed automatic, the power and performance is certainly up to standard in all aspects, other than where heavy maximum GVM operation of high towing ability is required.

Understandably, adding more weight will reduce the performance aspect in terms of instant acceleration response. But, unlike some of its competitors, Mitsubishi has its suspension settings right for Australian buyers from day-one of the new Triton introduction.

Every Triton model tested by Delivery has been evaluated in both unladen and laden form with a test load of 400 kg representing a typical payload. Measurements were taken of the variance in ride height between laden and unladen conditions, and, using the GLX Club Cab as an example, the ride height of the rear of the deck varied from 1070 mm when unladen to 930 mm laden. The height of the top of the wheel arch centre from the road surface remained unchanged for the front at 880 mm, while the rear altered from 930 mm to 880 mm, matching the front settings and providing a level and stable driving condition.

Delivery has so far evaluated most of the various models, with the exclusion of the new petrol variants announced more recently, and will soon be adding the GLX dual-cab to the list. This model is available with a heavier-duty suspension for those buyers who will be using the ute more frequently as a load carrier.

We often hear claims by different manufacturers that vehicles sold into the Australian market are specially tested in our conditions and changes made to suit the environment. Our experience is that while this may have been the case a few years ago, there’s an increasing tendency for manufacturers to aim for a global setting that suits more than one country, despite the conflicting variances in application and environment.Mitsubishi_Triton_P2

The Triton range is hugely important for Mitsubishi, and with its competitive pricing Delivery can foresee it will continue to grow its popularity across the range available. Fortunately for Mitsubishi Motors Australia it already employs one of the country’s best-known industry suspension specialists in the form of John Taylor. Also a huge asset is Shayna Welsh, head of corporate communications, who has a strong and highly-regarded family background in rallying and motorsport. Undoubtedly, the impressiveness of the new Triton range at launch is at least in part the result of their input into the decision making for the specification chosen to suit the Australian market.

The importance of tuning suspension for specific applications cannot be understated in the Australian market. Admittedly, the popularity of utes for both our commercial and private use is somewhat unique in global markets, and the selection of the correct spring and damper settings is not made any easier by the subsequent addition of accessories that add more weight in specific areas.

The vehicle manufacturer can only fit the spring and damper package that suits what it believes is the intended purpose. Once the buyer fits a bullbar, winch, extra lights, tow bar, radio antennas, roof rack, side steps and other accessories, they effectively change the whole equation.

To maintain the perfect combination of spring and damper settings, the vehicle should be weighed to give an accurate load figure on each wheel, and measurements taken that indicate spring compression, ride height variation and the distance to the suspension bump stops. This information is then assessed by an aftermarket suspension specialist that can make the necessary changes to restore the original ride and handling standards.

It may come as a surprise to a buyer of a new vehicle that the original suspension might have to be replaced, almost before the car is up for its first service, but from an engineering standpoint that is the only way to achieve perfect compliance.

So, in choosing the right model for your needs, consider whether you need to tow maximum weight trailers, adorn your vehicle with accessories, travel at high weights down steep hills (which benefits from larger capacity engines with greater engine braking ability), or just drive to Woolies on your way back from work for the weekly shopping. There’s a wide range of options, you just have to pick the ones that best suit your application.

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