Nissan’s next Navara will be based on Mitsubishi’s Triton
The all-new next-generation Nissan Navara is entering its development home straight and should make it into some market showrooms by the end of next year. All-new from the ground up, Nissan’s next one tonner will be built on the next Mitsubishi Triton platform as part of the new Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi alliance.
The first new Nissan Navara in a decade will follow its new sibling off a Thai production line for the first time later in 2024. Local South African production will likely commence at Rosslyn in Pretoria to supply European, African, Mid East and other eastern hemisphere markets. Expect local launch sometime in 2025.
Navara will also be built in Mexico, and in the US for the first time in ten years, much like Ford does with the Ranger. It will replace the Frontier in North America out of Nissan’s Mississippi plant from late 2025. Navara will also continue to be built in Mexico, to supply South and Central American markets.
The first spawn of Nissan Renault Mitsubishi is the recently revealed Mitsubishi ASX. That’s nothing more than a Renault Captur with a Renault badge on the grille. It is thus considered unlikely that that there will be a huge difference between this next Navara, the forthcoming new Triton and the Renault Alaskan that replaces the current Navara-based model in overseas markets.
Next Navara a little more than a badge job
The different bakkies are however expected to look more unique than the badge job on the Captur. Either way, the new alliance is all about saving money, merging strengths. It will use one car to deliver three models in a tripartheid agreement now known as ‘leader, follower’. One of the three brands takes charge of the development of a particular vehicle, and the others then adapt the car to suit their individual brand needs.
Mitsubishi drew the bakkie short straw to lead the engineering of the three new pickups. Nissan and Renault will adapt the Mitsubishi base. In other words, the next Triton and Navara will share their underpinnings, but hopefully have more unique bodywork than the Captur and ASX. Read new Ranger and Amarok, for instance.
The reason for Mitsubishi taking the lead on this bakkie project, is that the Triton is allegedly a more profitable business case, having outsold Navara in key markets. That is also why the Navara will follow the Triton to market by a year or two. Either way, this new joint venture will certainly ring the changes for both the Nissan Navara and the Mitsubishi Triton.
While camouflaged Triton prototypes have regularly been seen out testing, leaving just a little interpretation to deliver reasonable concept sketches, very little is known about the next Navara. Navara prototypes caught on camera were also from prior to the new Alliance being set, so likely irrelevant anyway. Unlike their Mitsubishi counterparts, Nissan suits remain cagey on Navara plans.
A tech savvy new Mitsubishi Outlander-like cabin
It is understood that the bakkies will at least share the same chassis frame and suspension. It’s uncertain, but likely that they will also get common engines and drivetrains, and the bulk of their bodywork. The new Navara and Triton are however expected get their own family faces, wheels, and trim. But expect most of the sheetmetal, the glass house and the rear end to basically remain common.
So the next Navara will share the forthcoming Triton’s signature shoulder line and character lines above blistered wheel arch extenders. It will also adopt the Triton’s window line flick on longer rear doors,. They will benefit larger doorways and a comfier rear cabin too. Expect a larger, contemporary and more tech savvy new Mitsubishi Outlander-like cockpit with an upmarket dash and large touchscreen infotainment.
Looking under the skin, a large intercooler on Mitsubishi mules suggests that the new Triton will adopt Mitsubishi’s next generation four-cylinder turbodiesel. Whether the new bakkies can accommodate Renault-Nissan’s V9X turbodiesel to compete with new rivals remains to be seen. The old Navara had that engine ten years ago.
A plug-in or conventional hybrid is almost certain to follow diesel model Tritons and Navaras as soon as plausible after launch. Toyota, Ford, and VW have all confirmed some form hybrid Hiluxes, Rangers and Amaroks by 2030 at the latest, so it’s unlikely that the electrified box will go unchecked in the new Navara and Triton.
Mitsubishi is already playing bakkie catch up
Mitsubishi will however need to brush up on its transmission to even remain on par with the present Navara. The Triton only upgraded to a 6-speed on its 2018 facelift, but the current Navara already has 7-speed automatic. Some rivals have 8 and even 10-speed autos. Expect an updated Super Select II 4×4 with rear diff lock and electronic off-road assistance to continue in 4×4 models.
The current Triton was significantly upgraded in 2018. Shorter, narrower, and wieldier than the market leading Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger, it is also lighter on fuel. Triton has also traditionally undercut Hilux, Ranger, the Isuzu D-Max and its future Navara sibling’s predecessor on price.
The Triton has however come under increasing pressure from ever improving Chinese bakkies. Like the GWM P Series and JAC, the crossbred Changan-Peugeot Landtrek, and India’s Mahindra. Never mind, the Triton will soon be among the oldest bakkies in the segment. This replacement is already delayed by the economic devastation of lockdown.
While the existing Triton has many advantages, more extreme 4×4 drivers and those who tow heavy loads are quick to point out that its short wheelbase and long rear overhang, and thus marginalised departure angle, are handicaps. The current Triton also gives away half a ton of braked towing capacity to the class leaders.
A Bigger, better more stable bakkie
Test mules however appear to confirm that the new bakkie’s rear wheels indeed shift rearward. And its front axle likewise looks to have moved forward. Front and rear wheel tracks also seem set to grow. That will yield a longer wheelbase and a bigger footprint for better road holding and handling. Add improved off-road ability, and better load and towing ability as well. Albeit at the cost of a bit of steering sharpness and turning circle.
With chassis dimensions now closer in size to Hilux and Ranger, Mitsubishi engineers have also alluded to ‘improved Triton frame model performance’. And the dimensions necessary to also grow its 50 mm longer and wider Navara twin into its next generation too.
it also remains to be seen if the new bakkies adopt four-wheel disc brakes. If their load bays will accommodate a Euro pallet between the wheel arches. Like the new Ranger. And what Amarok has always achieved. Or if Raptor-rivalling power models will follow.
Expect to see first official images of the next Mitsubishi Triton soon. And local launch within a few months of that. The Navara is set to break cover shortly after. A hiatus is however likely before local Navara launch. It will take a little more time to set up a new production line at Rosslyn, than to simply dock and disembowel a ro-ro ship. – Michele Lupini
Sketches: Michele Lupini