For a long time, cast iron has been the metal used for cylinder blocks, the reason being that it’s tough and provides long-term durability. However, cast iron is heavy and as reducing vehicle weight has been a factor in improving fuel efficiency and performance, it wasn’t long before aluminium – already used for cylinder heads – came to be used for the blocks as well. Of course, aluminium is not as strong as cast iron but with more advanced computer-aided design, it has been possible to reinforce and strengthen an aluminium block.
Even then, the use of aluminium blocks has been largely for road-going passenger vehicles; for the more rugged conditions that pick-up trucks will go through, cast iron blocks have been considered a safer choice. Nevertheless, Mitsubishi Motors must have found a way to make aluminium blocks strong enough that they are confident to use them for engines in pick-up trucks, specifically the latest Triton.
The all-aluminium 2.4-litre engine, designated ‘4N15’, is now available in the Triton range sold in Malaysia and it’s the first pick-up here to have such an engine. The innovation joins a string of firsts that Mitsubishi pick-ups have recorded in Malaysia – first with an automatic transmission, and first with a 3.2-litre engine. The current generation, launched here in 2015, also introduced to the segment passenger car features like the engine pushstart button, paddle shifters and bi-xenon headlamps.
Besides the aluminium block – which reduces engine weight by 30 kgs – the new engine also has MIVEC which is Mitsubishi’s name for its variable valve timing system. MIVEC, a common feature in the passenger car engines for many years, provides more precise control of the valve opening and closing, adjusting the times to the driving conditions. Together with the commonrail diesel technology, the new engine can produce up to 181 ps/430 Nm and yet consume 15% less fuel according to internal testing by Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia (MMM).
The high output is achieved using Euro5 diesel which is now available in over 200 stations in Peninsular Malaysia, including those of BHPetrol. However, the MMM people say it is okay to use Euro2M fuel so for those in East Malaysia, you can still buy the latest Triton with the new engine.
Since the advent of commonrail fuel delivery, diesel engines have operated with greater efficiency and also less noise and vibration. This naturally makes motoring more pleasant, especially as more and more people are using a pick-up as the primary (or sometimes only) transport vehicle. The lower levels of noise and vibration will make a difference on long journeys as fatigue will also be reduced.
The new MIVEC Turbodiesel engine is available for 4 of the 6 variants in the current Triton range imported from Thailand. The remaining 2 variants have the proven 2.5-litre turbodiesel engine (one with an intercooler and the other without) and only manual transmissions.
Of the 4 variants with the 4N15 engine, two have the Adventure package and one has manual transmission; all four have 4×4 drivetrains (Easy Select 4WD System). No longer does the driver have to fuss with a second lever to engage 4×4 as it can now be done with a rotary dial located between the front seats. Even better, switching between 2WD and 4WD high range can be done even while the vehicle is moving (up to 100 km/h) but if you want the Low range, then you need to come to a stop as the difference in ratios is considerable.
Besides the new engine, the latest range also has upgrades in features and new looks too. The VGT Adventure X is now the top variant and has a distinctive accessory which attaches to the front bumper. This gives the Triton’s front end the Dynamic Shield look that is used for the Outlander and some other models. Although the Triton was designed before the Dynamic Shield design concept was used for production models (it was used for concept models), the designers have done a good job of integrating it to the front end of the Triton although only the Adventure X gets it, along with 17-inch dual-tone wheels.
The existing Triton VGT variants get automatic bi-xenon headlamps with integrated LED day-running lights and rear foglamps as standard. For the manual variant, there’s a new 6-speed transmission providing additional high ratios to promote fuel-saving at higher speeds.
Feature-packed would be an apt description of the Triton, especially for the Adventure and VGT variants. Just as the first generation Triton provided a more passenger car-like cabin, the latest generation closes the gap further to the extent that you might not think you are in a pick-up and are instead sitting in a rather ‘tall’ passenger car.
But one thing has not changed and that’s the proven durability, which is to be expected anyway of a pick-up. Mitsubishi Motors has decades of experience producing vehicles not just for off-road use but also off-road competition and in the latter, it has some impressive victories to boast. The experience of developing vehicles for events like the Dakar Rally has been used in developing the Triton so it would have above-average qualities.
Nevertheless, if something should go wrong during the first 3 years (or a maximum of 100,000 kms), the factory warranty provides for free repair or replacement of the part or system with a manufacturing defect. There’s also 2 years of free scheduled maintenance as well.
Since the launch of the current generation last year, some 7,000 units have been sold nationwide and Triton sales this year have averaged around 400 units a month which is 15% of the segment. According to Yang Won-Chul, Chief Executive Officer of MMM, this number is expected to rise to 500 units a month, the variants with the new engine contributing to the increase.
The new Triton range will be in showrooms from September 23 with the following retail prices (without insurance):
Triton VGT Adventure X with automatic transmission – RM125,005
Triton VGT Adventure with automatic transmission – RM118,198
Triton VGT with automatic transmission – RM109,446
Triton VGT with 6-speed manual transmission – RM102,619
Triton 4×4 with manual transmission – RM88,997
Triton Quest (4×2) with manual transmission – RM73,438