Changes to the 2015 Mitsubishi Triton MQ-series include an all-new 2.4-litre turbodiesel engine, a slightly roomier cabin with a new interior, and a six-speed manual gearbox.
WHAT IS IT
The Triton is Mitsubishi’s best-selling vehicle in Australia. Fulfilling a multitude of roles, the MQ represents the first mechanical update for Triton since 2009 and the first body change since 2006. It’s available in both single and double cab, and in 2WD and 4WD.
WHY WE'RE TESTING IT
Utes, particularly dual-cabs, are big business. They are no longer just work vehicles, but extremely popular family vehicles. Utes have become so popular in recent times that 2015 sales to-date place utes, with 14.4 % share of the new-vehicle market, second only behind ‘Small Cars’ (22.3%) and ahead of all the ‘SUV’ classes and all other ‘Car’ classes, according to official VFACTS figures.
THE WHEELS VERDICT
While the Triton MQ is a ‘new’ generation vehicle, it represents evolution not revolution.
PLUS: Nimble by class standards; full-time 4wd on up-spec models
MINUS: Tweaked older design; smaller cab than some
THE WHEELS REVIEW
IT LOOKED like we had managed to get the Triton stuck. The 4wd section of the drive route Mitsubishi had organised for the preview of its 2015 Triton was at the spectacular Eagle View 4WD track, about an hour and a half east of Adelaide. As the name suggests, this is steep, rugged country and this particularly gnarly section of the track had managed to thwart the best efforts of the electronic traction control and all forward progress had stopped.
Thankfully we were driving the top-spec Exceed model, which comes standard with a rear differential lock, activated via a dashboard switch. Once the diff was locked, the Triton laboured for a second or two but eventually extricated itself from the predicament we were in.
This is Mitsubishi’s long-awaited answer to rash of all-new utes including the Ford Ranger, Mazda BT-50, VW Amarok, Holden Colorado and Isuzu D-Max that arrived in 2011 and 2012. Although the MQ Triton is officially dubbed a MY16 model it will go on sale in May this year. Despite what Mitsubishi would like you to believe, the MQ is not a clean-sheet design but more of a development of the MN Triton first released in 2009, itself a remake of the 2006 ML Triton.
Most importantly the MQ brings a new turbodiesel engine, a new six-speed manual (replacing the previous five-speeder), and a revised five-speed automatic that’s available right across the range. Previously only the top-spec model received a five-speed, the rest made do with a four-speed.
The new diesel is slightly smaller than the current offering (2.4 vs. 2.5 litres) but claims 2kW more (133kW vs. 131kW). The big benefit comes where it’s needed most, with peak torque up from 400Nm to 430Nm. With the auto box the improvement is more significant due to the fact that the old engine was only rated to 350Nm when mated to a self-shifter.
On the road the new engine is noticeably quieter, smoother, more refined, and more energetic than the outgoing offering. It’s also more economical according to the official figures. Not so good is the still somewhat indifferent auto box, the only gearbox available to sample at the preview.
Powertrains aside, the other big point of difference with the new Triton is the cabin. It’s only incrementally bigger than before but the seats are far more comfortable and the fit and finish is a world apart from the outgoing MN version. The steering wheel also gains both reach and tilt adjustment.
On the road the Triton feels small and nimble by class standards but lacks the dynamic polish of utes like the Ford Ranger and VW Amarok. Is it enough? As capable and likeable as the Triton is, a clean-sheet design was all that’s going to level with the class best. With the next-gen Hilux looming over the ute division, Mitsubishi needed a game-changer. This battle could get dirty.
Model: MY16 Mitsubishi Triton
Engine: 2.4L, 4cyl, dohc, 24v, turbo diesel
Max power: 133kW @ 3500rpm
Max torque: 430Nm @ 2500rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual/5-speed automatic
Weight: 2000kg (est.)
Fuel economy: 7.6L/100km
On sale: May 2015
Click here to read the full range review of the Mitsubishi Triton