The substantially updated 2015 Mitsubishi Triton ute made its world premiere today in Thailand, bringing what the company claims are big improvements in efficiency, safety and driving dynamics, and SUV-matching levels of refinement.
Mitsubishi’s replacement for its current eight-year old Triton — far and away its biggest seller in Australia — will come in three distinct body styles when it arrives in mid-2015, including single-cab, club-cab (also known as space-cab) and double-cab (dual-cab).
The double-cab model pictured here has what must be called evolutionary styling, though some of the more polarising aspects of the old model have been toned down and a new ridge-line lends this model a more rugged look. High-spec versions get LED daytime running lights.
We expected the basic body shape to remain as it has, given Mitsubishi previewed the car with the GR-HEV concept way back in early 2013.
The new Triton is also larger than before. The double cab that will be the volume seller is now 5280mm long (up 70mm), 1815mm wide (up 15mm) and 1780mm tall (unchanged) on an unchanged 3000mm wheelbase. The trays on various bodies are also between 15mm and 45mm longer.
Four-wheel-drive versions and high-riding two-wheel-drive models are, naturally, to be offered, each sporting 205mm of ground clearance.
Power will come from a new low-compression (and thereby all-aluminium) direct-injected 2.4-litre MIVEC diesel engine with a variable geometry turbo, matched as standard to a new six-speed manual gearbox (the old one had five ratios) but also available with a five-speed automatic.
The engine produces 133kW at 3500rpm and 430Nm of torque at 2500rpm — a little lower than rivals including the 147kW/470Nm Ford Ranger/Mazda BT-50, new-generation 140kW/450Nm Nissan Navara and the 147kW/500Nm Holden Colorado.
Overseas versions will also retain the 2.5-litre engine used in the outgoing model in Australia, which produces 131kW and 400Nm (manual) and 350Nm (auto). Neither this engine nor the revised 2.4 petrol are expected for Australia.
As we know, a hybrid version is confirmed to follow at some point, though it is a little fuzzy as to when.
The current 2.5 Triton has a 3000-kilogram towing capacity in double-cab guise, and it is unclear if this new model will build on this. Many rivals now have a 3500kg capacity.
Mitsubishi claims this new version has high levels of cabin space — including more shoulder room (10mm) and headroom (5mm) in the front and 20mm of extra rear legroom — while new sound insulation, absorption and damping materials are said to make the cabin much quieter.
This quest for refinement is abetted by improvements to the construction such as greater reinforcements and improved rigidity in the engine compartment, plus the joins between the chassis frame, cargo bed and cab.
Torsional rigidity is up 7 per cent, the company claims, and the toughened body structure is also said to improve crashworthiness. The current Triton has an ANCAP rating of four stars, but this one needs five-stars to compete with most rivals and to be eligible for the increasingly stringent-on-safety fleet requirements of many major buyers.
Underneath the re-jigged body sits a carryover suspension configuration with a double wishbone front end and leaf-spring rear suspension, though the mounting points and length of the rear leaf setup have been revised to bring what Mitsubishi calls improved on-road comfort. There are also new front stabiliser bars and revised spring rates.
There is also a lower steering ratio meaning more response from smaller inputs, while the car retains its low 5.9-metre turning radius. The ventilated front brake discs and rear drums carry over. Hill-start assist is standard.
The cabin design is evolutionary but gets more sophisticated material choices and climate control/navigation setup similar to the Outlander SUV to improve ambience — no doubt music to the ears of weekend warriors — while the seats are said to offer more generous levels of support.
It is the fifth iteration of Mitsubishi’s light commercial line in 36 years, dating all the way back to the Forte from 1978. The new Triton will once again be made in Thailand, and will launch in Australia by mid-2015.
It is a vital model for Mitsubishi. So far this year, the company has sold more than 18,500 units across its 2WD and 4WD versions, more than double the Lancer, ASX or Outlander. As recently as June it finished second to the Toyota HiLux in ute sales here thanks to its relative bargain prices. All Australian-specific spec and pricing is still a few months away.
As we have reported, this version of the Triton is expected to spawn a derivative wearing Fiat badges.