The Mitsubishi Colt is dead. The new generation of this popular pick-up is such a radical departure from the Colt, its arrival necessitated a completely new name - Triton.
New Triton's exterior styling follows the example set by its key competitors and it is bigger and more imposing than before. It also shows some interesting characteristics, including a rounded rear door and sculpted loadbox.
Though the finishes remain hardy, the interior is a lot plusher than before, with Mitsubishi showing a very definite move towards the leisure market.
Large blue knobs (that match the blue dials within the instrument cluster) control the air conditioner.
The digital display, providing trip, maintenance and audio information, is surrounded by aluminium-look plastic. A four-spoke leather steering wheel is standard.
Power windows and automatic climate control is standard too. Options include a leather seating package (with power driver's seat) and a power rear window.
The cabin is also more comfortable, though rear passengers probably benefit the best with legroom and headroom significantly improved over the previous model.
When a deflated tyre and a tight schedule required that one Triton be abandoned in the Atlantis dunes along the Cape West coast, with five adults and some luggage, the remaining Triton proved up to the task and comfortably hauled us out.
Though its sheetmetal and technology used is dramatically different, Triton's ladder frame chassis using leaf springs at the rear suggests that this is still a bakkie. However, it does, for the first time, make use of McPherson struts at the front.
Phasing in the range
Only one model - a 2.5-litre turbodiesel double cab fitted with a new five-speed manual transmission - is being made available at launch.
Further models, including a 4X2 2.4 litre and a 3.5-litre petrol V6, will be made available throughout the year. These double cabs will be sold alongside the previous generation single and clubcabs until local assembly from DaimlerChrysler's East London plant commences next year.
For now, the 2.5 Di-DC 4X4 pushes out 100 kW at 4 000 r/min and peak torque of 314 Nm at 2 000 r/min. This is the first common rail unit to be used by Mitsubishi in its pick-up range and is compliant with Euro4 emission levels.
Shifts "on the fly"
The Super Select system offers four - two high and two low - driving modes, with shifts "on the fly" at speeds up to 100 km/h. Shifting through the modes does require a fair amount of elbow grease though.
With bias to the rear wheels, two low is ideal for most on road activities. More demanding off road work, like the sand dunes used to put the launch fleet through its paces, is made light with the two high modes being offered.
The Tritons breezed across the sand course, happily kicking up sand as we journeyed across the dunes under the leadership of local motorsport legend Sarel van der Merwe. The most demanding work, it seems, was left to the technical crew required to change the tyres after some particularly spirited dune driving.
The Triton was especially nimble in the dunes too. Power steering now uses a rack and pinion arrangement and the turning circle on the 4X4 model is a compact 5.9 metres.
Safety equipment includes ABS with EBD and twin airbags. Triton comes standard with a three-year/60 000 km service plan and a two-year/100 000 km warranty. Service intervals on the new turbodiesel model is now 10 000 km.
2.5 Di-DC 4X4 (with cloth pack) - R307 900
2.5 Di-DC 4X4 (with leather pack) - R315 900