A turbocharged Greek god

The question is whether Mitsubishi’s Triton double-cab diesel bakkie is indeed an awesome Greek god – a turbo-charged messenger of the sea with the body of a human and the tail of a fish. I reckon it is.

NIP AND TUCK: The new Mitsubishi Triton has arrived on local shores after a comprehensive redesign, although it retains all the features that made previous models stand out from the rest Picture: QUICKPIC

After a few years without launching a new model, this crossover sports utility truck or SUT – the new buzzword for grunty bakkies with car-like handling and spacious comfort – is back.

The Triton reaches the coast on Monday, with 185 clever improvements. Call it a subtle but extensive redesign.

The Triton caused a stir a few years ago when it appeared with its distinctive J-line gill running behind the cabin. The J-line is still there, but with a bit of a nip and tuck to add 20cm to the cabin length.

The sides have also been pumped out fractionally and strengthened to give a roomy and comfortable interior, while the exterior width remains manageable in narrow lanes.

The essence of the Triton 2.4 Di-DC MIVEC d/c is that it is a finely honed, athletic beast, at home on the open tar hitting a maximum of 178km (yes, we gave it a tonk), and a solid-footed platypus in thick mud.

On Wednesday, it climbed a 50-degree orange clay cliff-like hump like a champion, in second gear low range.

This bakkie is all about the urban-rural split. In stop-start traffic its take-off is silky.

Its road handling, because of the pulled-in rear axle, is catlike, but its high-speed 4×4 gearing and distribution of power means that on dirt, if you need to tramp the brakes at 120km, the Triton grinds to a straight-arrow halt. No fishtailing at all.

This was the active stability and traction control (ASTC) system, modulating both braking and engine power, plus the ABS and electronic brake distribution, all working together.

The SUT market will get busy this year with manufacturers bringing on a number of models, but Mitsubishi executives say that tossing their Trident into the park first will give them a leading edge.

Bakkies are a big investment, but the execs say that coming in at 5% less than its nearest competitors will get them the volumes.

The Triton’s pricing is:

l2.4 Di-D 4×2 (manual) – R479900;

l2.4 Di-D 4×2 (auto) – R499900;

l2.4 Di-D 4×4 (manual) – R539900; and

l2.4 Di-D 4×4 (auto) – R559900.

There is only a 20% price difference between manual or automatic models.

The debate continues in 4×4 circles between traditionalists versus the easy riders.

The “athleticism” punted by Mitsubishi is helped a lot by what’s going on under the bonnet.

Mitsubishi’s all-new 2.4 DOHC MIVEC engine’s next-generation aluminium block four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine is also 30kg lighter while delivering at 133kW at 3500 rpm with torque peaking at 430Nm at 2500rpm.

The factory-tested (claimed) consumption of 7.6 litres/100km, will have to be tried out in Eastern Cape real time.

People are going to need therapy when deciding on which bakkie to buy, with Triton being versatile enough to cover the stupidly vast continuum between a butt-dragging urban racer and a farmyard Boxer.

The Triton looks to be a smart choice. — mikel@dispatch.co.za