Mitsubishi’s next Triton bakkie will break cover in 2023
Meet the bigger, bolder next generation 2024 Mitsubishi Triton. The one that will also share its heart with the next Nissan Navara. Next Triton has some big shoes to fill. It will take over from Auto’s former Best Bakkie current model that also long held our 4-cylinder turbodiesel double cab Auto bakkie performance records.
Stripping the camouflage away, our exclusive Auto render reveals a square, long, and broad new look. Boxier and more upright than today’s bakkie, Triton will grin the latest evolution of Mitsubishis edgy Dynamic Shield grille. Signature LED driving lights below a new clamshell bonnet, top separate headlight clusters. Separate low marker lamps emphasise its breadth.
The new Mitsubishi bakkie will be a sharper take on the current Triton’s signature shoulder line. Character lines above the blistered wheel arch extenders are split by wider side sills. New Triton carries over the flick in its larger rear doors’ lower rear-side window line on longer rear doors in larger doorways.
“It is not enough to just be utilitarian”
They suggest improved second-row comfort in a larger, contemporary tech savvy new Outlander-like cockpit. Expect an upmarket dash design with a large touchscreen infotainment display in flagship Tritons. “It is not enough to just be utilitarian; you need to be desirable to sell in this market,” Mitsubishi chief engineer Kentaro Honda explains.
The first fruits of a new joint venture that will also produce the next Nissan Navara, Mitsubishi is now part of an alliance with Nissan and Renault following the most recent bout of bakkie maker incest. The spawn of which starts hitting the market about now.
Ford divorced Mazda and married Volkswagen. Mazda ran off with Isuzu. Mitsubishi parted ways with Fiat and hooked up with Nissan-Renault, mourning the child death of its late partner Mercedes. The new Ford Ranger and VW Amarok twins hit the market as we speak, with this new Mitsubishi due late ’23 and the Nissan by early 2025.
Triton has pressure from below
Getting back to the Mitsubishi. Introduced in 2015, the current Triton was significantly updated and facelifted in 2018. It is slightly shorter, narrower, and thus wieldier than the market leading Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger, but lighter on fuel. Triton has also traditionally undercut Hilux, Ranger, Navara, the Isuzu D-Max and the rest on price.
Triton has however more recently come under pressure from the increasingly able Chinese 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, with this replacement already delayed by lockdown and the economic devastation of the coronavirus.
The new Mitsubishi-Nissan Renault alliance will see the three brands sharing development across the board on all automotive sectors and models going forward. Each new car’s development will be different with one brand within the group leading the project. The others ‘follow’ but deliver on design and engineering input.
Triton will share its guts with next Navara
The reason for Mitsubishi taking the lead on these bakkies, is that Triton is allegedly a more profitable business case, having outsold Navara in key markets. Which also means that the Navara will follow the Triton to market by a year or two. Each bakkie will have its own unique bodywork, while sharing the same under the skin tech.
However, much like the Ranger and Amarok twins, and the new Isuzu and Mazda bakkies, their new joint venture will also ring the changes for both the Triton and Navara. New Ranger has for instance adopted rear disc brakes to ensure the new Ford-based VW retains them from the pioneering original Amarok.
Ranger’s rear dampers also shift outboard of its chassis rails to help gain 50 mm in width. To match the old Amarok and accommodate a Euro palette in its new load bay. Similar changes will, by the way, also find their way onto Toyota’s final wide body version of the current Hilux generation.
Next Triton, Navara will grow towards each other
So, not only will the new Triton grow considerably to ensure that the new Navara can also gain a couple if millimetres here and there, but the two bakkies will, so to say, grow towards each other in several other ways too.
It remains to be seen if the new Triton picks up the current Navara’s coil spring rear suspension. Nissan has updated that hybrid set-up several times in its attempts to better handle a load. Or will Mitsubishi ditch that for its proven traditional leaf-spring rear end?
Whether Mitsubishi follows the recent Euro pallet load bay and rear disc brake bakkie trends also remains to be seen. These test mules have rear drum brakes. Which would be seen as deficient versus Ranger, Amarok, Hilux, GWM and others.
Under the skin of the next Triton
Looking under the skin, that large intercooler behind the front bumper of the mules is evidence of the new Triton adopting Mitsubishi’s next generation four-cylinder turbodiesel engine. 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 however almost certain to follow the diesel model Tritons as soon as plausible after launch. “All pickup trucks will offer electrification inside the next decade,” Mitsubishi Australia boss Thomson recently explained. Diesel propulsion however remains a bakkie essential, not only due to its convenience, but thanks to farmer incentives.
Plug-in hybrids twin an electric motor for short trips, with a combustion engine for longer treks, to meet stringent European CO2 limits. Although heavy, onboard batteries allow vehicle-to-load charging and can power tools and other equipment. Toyota, Ford, and VW have all confirmed some form hybrid Hiluxes, Rangers and Amaroks by 2030 at the latest.
Plug In hybrid a decent diesel alternative?
“We must sill decide if hybrid or plug-in hybrid, or a petrol or diesel-electric suits Triton best,” engineer Honda added. “Not all pickup buyers will want it, so a hybrid Triton will be an option.” That said, a diesel-electric plug-in hybrid bakkie would be a dream come true to any solar-savvy farmer, on top of his incentivised diesel…
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 Navara 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.
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.
Next Triton will better handle roads & loadS
The new bakkie’s rear wheels will however be shoved aft, and its front axle moved forward, while front and rear wheel tracks will grow, too. That will yield a longer wheelbase and bigger footprint to bring 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 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.
Expect to see first official images of the next Mitsubishi Triton during 2023. At local launch within a few months of that. – Michele Lupini