One of the newest players in the bakkie game has stepped up and attempting to take the ax full on to the segment leaders.
We got to play with both the manual and the automatic variants and our conclusions:
How does it drive:
While bakkies all ride similar, some do perform better than others. There is no doubt that the 2.4 132kw engine is a solid performer in both auto and manual versions. The manual does have a clutch that takes a little high for out liking, but once you start driving it around, you quickly become accustomed to the feel. Out of the gate, the manual does perform a little better. The 5 speed automatic has to be our pick because of the smoothness of the box, it also no slouch and will make off-roading a breeze.
The Yokohama Geolander SUV tires were however not to our liking, especially on gravel roads where they were not up to par with true all-terrain tires. This is however easily remedied at any tire dealer. The suspension rides compliant and the ride is actually really dynamic, especially considering that this is, in fact, a bakkie. The suspension is firmer than expected with a progressive feel on the really bumpy roads. The handling on gravel is very predictable with traction control and stability control keeping things the right way up. The system nannies you along most of the time, in a non-intrusive way. This makes driving rough roads easy, even for a novice.
The interior is a day/night change over the outgoing model but remains true to the Mitsubishi styling. Overall space has been increased by 20mm and this puts the cabin space at an impressive 1745mm and having access to the outgoing model, the new model is indeed much more spacious. We’ve been assured that the seats have been redesigned for extra comfort and I can confirm that the front seats offer great supports in both lateral and lumbar regions. They are also electronically adjustable. The multimedia system is good enough for a standard system, but there seems to be a little bit of lag when navigating larger USB sticks, this adds frustration to a point. The Triton is, however, a full house bakkie, so leather seats, electric windows, and even dual zone climate is standard.
The 132kw and 430nm engine has to be on top of the power curve for kw/l and as mentioned, its extremely responsive. There is a faint amount of turbo lag just under 2000rpm, but one it comes to power it remains there, all the way to the redline. The overall economy is slightly better on the manual by about a liter per hundred, but this still would not influence our buying decisions. The Automatic, will still be a better day to day drive and be more relaxed out on the trails.
For the off-road junkies, all 4 wheel drive Tritons are fitted with their “Super Select 2” which means there is a rear locker, engageable like most vehicles, only in 4 Low. 4 H can be engaged on the fly, for added sure-footed grip on loose terrain.
While most of these bakkies are indeed lifestyle vehicles and no longer true workhorses, you have to decide which one will suit your lifestyle better. The Automatic will be a better tow vehicle, purely because of ease of use, though the manual won’t stand back either. In the end, it comes down to if you prefer an engaging drive or if you just like to chill with a coffee in your hand and hit the open road.