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New Mitsubishi ClubCab driven

2008-10-08 08:22
Is it just us, or does the ClubCab configuration f

Is it just us, or does the ClubCab configuration fuse a whole lot better with the odd Triton loadbox-to-cab styling line? We only wish it had suicide doors for easier behind the seats stowage access.

Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Mitsubishi
Model Triton ClubCab
Engine 2.5, 3.2 Di, 3.5 MPI V6
Power 100kW @ 4 000r/min, 118kW @ 3 800r/min, 136kW @ 4 750r/min
Torque 314Nm @ 2 000r/min, 343Nm @ 2 000r/min, 303Nm @ 3 750r/min
Transmission Five-speed manual
Fuel Tank 75l
ABS Yes, with EBD
Airbags Dual front
Tyres 245/70R16
Front Suspension Independent double-wishbones with coil springs
Rear Suspension Rigid-elliptic leaf springs
Service Intervals 10 000km (diesel), 15 000km (petrol)
Service Plan 5 year/100 000km
Warranty 3 year/100 000km
Price R230 000 - R297 000
Rivals Ford Ranger Super, Isuzu KB Extended Cab

Lance Branquinho

Mitsubishi continued the deployment of its Triton range locally, bolstered by the launch of three ClubCab models yesterday.

The controversially styled bakkie now features a 48% local component make-up (a far cry from the full Thai imports a year ago), after a significant R200 million investment in production facilities on the banks of the Buffalo river in East London.

Sharing a production facility with the Mercedes-Benz C-Class line yields common quality benefits - Tritons are painted with the same ceramic embedded, clear lacquer finish. Hardly surprising to find the Triton range finished top of the class in a recent Synovate competitive customer satisfaction PP100 survey.

Utility application

Beyond the current double-cab range, which has a decidedly leisure marketing bias, the new ClubCab Tritons are aimed at those who need safe, all-weather stowage room in the cab, yet cannot compromise with the severely truncated loadbox of a double-cab configuration.

Triton ClubCab boasts a loadbox 1.85m long (you can sleep in the back), and with a touch more than a metre’s worth of width between the arches loadability is good. Unfortunately there is a dearth of tie-down and securing points, especially on the outer edge of the loadbox.

Carryability is close enough to a ton too, with the 3.5 petrol rated at a 938kg payload whilst the diesels carry 927kg. Loadability sacrifices over a standard one tone bakkie are scant.

The Triton ClubCab interior offers an airy, car-like design with strange blue-faced dials, and four mixed trim textures. Behind the seats a large, flat stowage space resides, though without suicide door loading bulky toolboxes and artisan equipment behind the seats is a chore.

Safety is well catered for with dual front airbags and EBD boosted ABS, though the Ford Ranger SuperCab offers side airbags as well.

Proven engines, uprated suspension

Consisting of three models – two turbodiesels and a V6 petrol – the range features five-speed manual gearboxes throughout and only one transfer case enabled 4x4 derivative.

Engines are the familiar 2.5 turbodiesel which landed Triton locally in double-cab form, augmented by the Pajero derived 3.2 turbodiesel (the sole 4x4 model) and topped off with 3.5 V6 power.

The South African engines benefit from incrementally more power and torque compared to their Australian cousins due to Euro 2 specification emission regulations locally. On paper they produce competitive figures, with the 2.5 powering up to 100kW and 314Nm, the 3.2 118kW and 343Nm and the V6 petrol 136kW and 303Nm.

With all Tritons now being built in East London, tweaking for local conditions has become viable. Due to South Africans being keen on loading their bakkies and driving on substandard dirt roads at high speeds, Mitsubishi have upgraded suspension components.

The double-wishbone, independent, front coil suspension remains in configuration, but has received a 15% toughening up thanks to a combination of stiffer front springs, revised damping and reinforced front suspension mounting brackets.

For local buyers it yields a car which retains uncharacteristically (for a bakkie) plaint ride quality (even unladen) without eschewing loadability.

We drove the vehicles on an undulating off-road route outside East London, and despite the 2.5 turbodiesel models still hampered by a ludicrously tall second gear uphill, the Triton retains its reputation as a dynamic bakkie.

Both the long-stroke 3.2 turbodiesel and over-square 3.5 V6 engines pull cleanly from low engine speeds, and thanks to the nimble 5.9m turning circle manoeuvring through rocky river beds and around trees was an unflustered experience.

The neat turning circle characteristics will no doubt find even more applicability when navigating industrial yards or executing three-point turns on haphazardly trafficked building sites.

On tar Triton ClubCab rides well, and handles even better, whilst off-road the 3.2 4x4s kept all four-wheels on the ground most of the time. Sporting independent front suspension and only 205mm worth of ground clearance adventurous off-road lines across obstacles are not recommended though.

The standard Bridgestone Dueler 245/70 tyres are decidedly tar biased too, in mitigation though, they contribute much to the low road noise levels with their medial tread pattern design. The sidewalls are not the most impenetrable around though, as a naughty lion on the launch route proved by giving us an instant puncture after gashing the sidewall with a single nibble…

Gearchange action is still chunky and positive across the range - no doubt aided by a proper sized bakkie shifter – though we still find it inexplicable why Mitsubishi cannot offer its fabled Super Select 4x4 system on the 3.2 Tritons.

Utilitarian extrovert

Pitched against the Ford Ranger SuperCab and Isuzu KB Extended Cab models the Triton ClubCab, with its car-like interior and alien sheet metal design, offers a better on-road driving alternative both. The Ford does offer suicide door access and side airbags though.

Will South African bakkie buyers – fanatically loyal and deeply conservative – ever warm to the Triton styling though? At the 2007 Spirit of Africa event competitors felt so negative towards the Triton styling Mitsubishi didn’t even bother to offer any of the event vehicles for sale to competitors.

After the 2008 event each competitor put in an offer to purchase their event vehicle…

With a 10 year lifecycle, we hope steering wheel satellite controls, better loadbox tie-down points, a migration of the 2.5 double-cab Super Select 4x4 system throughout the range and perhaps even better loadbay access in the Triton ClubCab are on the cards.

The local suspension development for our harsher conditions has already been integrated, hopefully this trend of tweaking the product for local demands will continue; reconciling the Tritons extrovert nature and car-like driveability with utility needs. Which means single cab and SUV derivatives next year.


2.5 Di ClubCab 4x2 R230 000
3.5 MPI V6 ClubCab 4x2 R239 250
3.2 Di ClubCab 4x4 R297 000


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