Mitsubishi has expanded its Triton bakkie range with three new engine options, including range-topping turbodiesel and large capacity V6 petrol power.
The adventurously styled bakkie range was originally launched with only 2.5-litre turbodiesel power earlier this year. Although it hardly felt underpowered in this configuration, competitors offered more impressive powerplants on paper.
South African bakkie owners are keen haulers of boats and heavy trailers, which necessitated the need to bring more power into the expanded Triton range.
Essentially its still standard fare Triton, which means you get the only in class double cabs which have one ton load capacity, Moon buggy styling, a roomy if haphazardly styled interior and some rather neat on-road handling characteristics.
Thank you Pajero
Mitsubishi bakkie owners have jealously coveted the larger capacity petrol and turbodiesel powerplants of their Pajero counterparts for quite some time, and finally Mitsubishi have brought the market what they wanted.
Forget all the Paris-Dakar marketing jargon, it has precious little relevance to the engineering of Mitsubishi road products. Despite this, the Pajero range does have some fine powerplants, and has now donated two to the Triton range.
The 3.2-turbodiesel is a detuned version of the current generation Pajero engine, with common-rail direct injection and low friction pistons produces 118kW at 3500r/min, and 343Nm at 2000r/min.
Mated to a five speed manual transmission - an auto is arriving in November - it propels Triton to a more competitive standing with regard to power outputs in the premium double cab 4x4 bakkie segment.
On the petrol side two new engine options are available, a 2.4-litre four cylinder and a 3.5-litre V6. Producing 135kW at 4750r/min and 309Nm at 3500r/min the detuned previous generation 3.5-litre Pajero engine adds some high speed cruising capability to the range.
Conversely the 2.4-litre four cylinder, producing 94kW at 5250r/min and 194Nm at 4000r/min, adds an entry level 4x2 buy in point to the double cab range.
On our short tar and off-road handling course the engines acquitted themselves well, with the 3.5-litre V6 proving most refined and responsive, with plenty of low down power sending the rear wheels screeching for grip around the Gerotek handling course.
The 3.2-litre diesel, though feeling incrementally more powerful, is a raucous powerplant. It has a distinctively diesel clatter when powering through the gears and ultimately does not have the throttle response or audible refinement of the class leading Ford TDCi 3-litre turbodiesel.
Fully laden the extra power and torque might come into play, but it hardly makes a strong case for itself in superseding the 2.5-litre Triton turbodiesel. More so because nor the 3.2-turbodiesel, nor the 3.5-litre petrol 4x4 version come equipped with the superlative Super Select 4x4 system available on the 2.5-litre turbodiesel Triton.
Super Select is probably the strongest unique selling point of the Triton range and it is inexplicable why it has been excluded from the product specification in the expanded Triton range.
Enabling practically foolproof and extraordinarily user-friendly drive selection between four-wheel- and two-wheel drive, it also enabled Triton to power on in four-wheel drive at high speeds which works brilliantly in the wet and on dirt roads.
Despite this the Triton the extra weight of the two range topping engines has not diminished the neat on-road handling characteristics. In congested urban areas where a large bakkie can be an insurmountable burden to navigate through parking areas the class leading 5.9-metre turning circle is a welcome relief.
With double wishbone front suspension you could probably not conquer Kilimanjaro, but off-road the newfangled power and a rear differential lock make Triton credible.
Many of the test vehicles on launch were equipped with accessories and of these the elaborate roll-bar and canopy were the most intriguing options. The roll-bar has two connecting bars which run lengthwise and connect in to the bodywork at the end of the load bay.
This elongated shape flows well with the pronounced roofline of the Triton and actually bring some much needed fluidity to the styling, whilst the optional canopy has a pronounced roofline which slopes aggressively downwards perfectly completing the Triton styling.
Still the only double cab to offer one ton load capacity, the new, more powerful top-line engines will surely appeal to those keen on towing.
Whether the underwhelming 3.2-litre turbodiesel is a better buy than the 2.5-litre, especially with the absence of Super Select, is highly debatable. Powerful and smoother the 3.5-litre petrol is probably the pick of the new engine options, whilst the 2.4-litre petrol is not unduly underpowered.
For Colt buyers unsure whether to trade up, the locally assembled Colt replacement is due next year.
Mitsubishi Triton 2,4 MPI Manual 4x2 R234 900
Mitsubishi Triton 2,5 DI-D Manual 4x4 R297 000
Mitsubishi Triton 3,5 V6 Manual 4x4 R304 900
Mitsubishi Triton 3,2 DI-D Manual 4x4 R319 900
Mitsubishi Triton 3,2 DI-D Auto 4x4 R327 900