PROVING ITS WORTH: The Mitsubishi Triton being put to the (off-road) test. Image: Wheels24 / Charlen Raymond
Cape Town - We can’t stress it enough: South Africa is a bakkie-crazy country!
The Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger are dominating sales locally and they obliterate, month after month, sales figures of all other vehicles on sale today. So given that these two bakkies are seemingly the only bakkies South Africans are interested in buying, why would manufacturers bother to sell a bakkie in SA?
Case in point: Mitsubishi’s new Triton.
The Triton was long overdue in SA and Mitsubishi sure took their time to bring the fifth-generation bakkie to our shores. In other countries it was already available, but we had to wait almost a year before it got here.
And now that it has come through the Wheels24 garage, the team finally had the chance to sample the new challenger and asses its position against the bakkie leaders.
Do you think the Mitsubishi Triton can tough it out against the Ford Ranger and Toyota Hilux? Share your thoughts via email, Facebook and Twitter.
Wheels24's Janine van der Post and Charlen Raymond share their thoughts:
Janine vd Post: After having driven the Isuzu KB300 just a week prior, the Triton is a different bakkie altogether. It seems to fit in much better to the lifestyle of classy suburbia. You know, like the 'Desperate Housewives' neghbourhood.
And even though it shares a platform and design elements with the Fiat Fullback, they're not the same at all. Yes, they might look like twins separated at birth - both are very spacious and have niceties such as leather seats - but the Triton offers a much better drive, and at times, feels more like a sporty SUV than a bakkie. So much so, that I wondered if it could even handle the tougher terrains bakkies are known for. But alas, it can climb a rocky path and chow gravel like the late Joost van der Westhuizen tackled Jonah Lomu in the 1995 Rugby World Cup.
READ: Can the new Mitsubishi Triton revive the cult of Colt?
It absorbs bumps and the occasional pothole with ease. And accelerates like Wayde Van Niekerk in a 200m sprint.
The Triton is also much more refined inside, with almost lavish-type materials which feels lovely to touch. Glossy finishes instead of mundane plastics and soft, plushy leather seats that make you want to sit deeper and drive further into the sunset on a later afternoon cruise, or safari.
But after driving the KB300, my heart still leans towards the old reliable workhorse that is the Isuzu. As lekker as the Triton is, its tailgate is somewhat higher than the KB, thus making it uncomfortable and difficult to load goods or even to grab a seat on the tailgate. And even though the Triton's 2.4-litre enigne (133kW/430Nm) drives better and is a lot more responsive to throttle commands than the more familiar KB. The Isuzu feels more solid on the road.
If I had to choose, I'd much rather take the Isuzu to the rugby field, along with camping chairs to pitch up on the load bay, and the skottel for a braai. The Triton, that I'll take to the Mall for a crazy shopping spree!
Charlen Raymond: The Triton is one of the better to drive thanks to its impressive on-road manners, but the bakkie is perhaps the more capable off-road. Mitsu’s new Super Select all-wheel drive system makes getting out of the trickiest situations a real breeze. And importantly, it makes going off-road a fun experience.
Engage neutral, and select the required drivetrain setting by turning the dial found next to the gear lever. Power is channelled between the front and rear axles, throttle sensitivity is adjusted and steering feel becomes a lot firmer. The bakkie will have novice off-roaders feeling comfortable behind the wheel and passengers will enjoy the experience just as much as the driver.
READ: SA bakkie war - Will Mitsubishi's new Triton give Hilux, Ranger sleepless nights?
On gravel there is a greater sense of accomplishment. The improved suspension is a lot more forgiving, a lot softer, a lot more capable to handle the undulations backroads have to offer. There is still some jolting and jumping on the rear suspension, but so too does the Hilux and Ranger have lively rears. In all the Triton is as at home on gravel as it is on tar.
If weekend-breakaways or travelling to hidden destinations tickle your fantasy, this bakkie is a pretty good vehicle to do it in.