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by Jez Spinks

The 2014 Mitsubishi Triton will be safer, more luxurious and better to drive, but a new diesel-hybrid system will have to wait until about 2018.

Mitsubishi showcased the GR-HEV concept at the 2013 Geneva motor show this week, providing a radical-looking interpretation of the next-generation Triton one-tonne ute.

The GR-HEV, which stands for Grand Runner Hybrid Electric Vehicle, combines a 2.5-litre ‘clean’ turbo diesel engine with an electric motor to target CO2 emissions of just 149 grams per kilometre.

That compares with a range of 212-253g/km for the current diesel versions of the Mitsubishi Triton.

Mitsubishi’s member of the board and head officer for product projects and strategy, Ryugo Nakao, told CarAdvice at the Geneva show that the hybrid version is a few years off but necessary to meet tightening emissions regulations.

“We had to develop a new [hybrid] system for Triton such strict regulations in 2020,” said Nakao-san. “We are now developing the successor to Triton.

“By 2020, emissions regulations are so strict that we have to develop this new hybrid system. So we are now developing that GR hybrid system. We launch this in lifecycle of Triton successor.

“At launching time [of new Triton] we will not adopt such a system.”

That points to about 2018 for the Mitsubishi Triton hybrid, allowing for a update about four years into the ute’s lifecycle.

Nakao-san says a new Challenger, the SUV based on the Triton’s underpinnings, will also emerge “a little bit later than the Triton successor”.

Mitsubishi says the Triton will retain its body-on-frame construction but will feature significant improvements that recognise utes now have dual roles as both family vehicles and workhorses.

Nakao-san says active cruise control and collision-avoidance technologies will feature on the new Triton, while the ute will also be safer than before – with an aim to better the four-star crash-safety rating of the current Triton.

“First of all as far as safety concerned we will try to reach target of NCAP five-star – for Triton and Challenger,” he said.

The Triton will also have improved on-road refinement and driving manners, he said.

“Yes, of course we have to improve current performance of Triton. In NVH [noise, vibration and harshness] and so on we will improve [the Triton]. More luxury, more sports utility vehicle.”