Where extreme driving conditions are the norm, you will find the Mitsubishi Triton.
This much-loved workhorse and extreme leisure-companion seem to have been a fixture in South Africa forever. This long memory of the tough bakkie exists because of its 40-year evolution.
The first one-ton Mitsubishi bakkie was built in 1978 with a 1.6L 63kW petrol engine. It proved immediately popular and was soon sold around the world, often under different badges. Variants included Chrysler, Dodge and the marvellously named Plymouth Arrow.
Soon a 4×4 was added and different engines added to different markets. A 2.0L and 2.6L petrol, a 2.3L Turbo-diesel and 2.5L diesel completed the range.
This first Mitsubishi was produced until 1986 when it was replaced by a second generation.
The 1986 bakkie was launched in Australia as the Triton, a cost-effective basic workhorse bakkie. It was known as the Mitsubishi Colt in South Africa. Soon more comfortable variants were introduced, the twin-cab 4×4 for example. Engines were the 4-cylinder petrol and diesel options, with 3L V6 introduced as well. This second-generation continued until 1996.
Still called the Colt, the third generation Mitsubishi bakkie was a worthy successor. Still sold worldwide, it was offered with a 2.5L turbodiesel engine, various other diesel and petrol engines and the 3L V6. A significant offshoot of this was the Challenger SUV launched in Japan – also called the Pajero Sport. Mmmm. This generation also lasted a decade before its next iteration.
The familiar rounded-nose bakkie was launched in 2006 with the 2.5L turbodiesel. It was specifically designed to appeal not only to farmers and factories but the leisure market as well.
Participation in races such as the Dakar cemented its off-road credibility. Its wider appeal led to the single cab, club cab and double cab variants. It was immensely popular, selling nearly 1.5 million units in 150 countries.
How do you build on such a pedigree? The current fifth-generation was launched in 2014 and given a major facelift this year.
This Triton is a versatile vehicle, found on farms and in industry, executive offices and holiday homes. It is good-looking and pleasant to drive, offering plenty of power with class-leading fuel efficiency. Yet the soul of the Mitsubishi Triton is that of a go-anywhere workhorse, as this testing facility in Thailand demonstrates.
But see for yourself. Book a test drive of the legendary Mitsubishi Triton today.