I personally love reviewing a bakkie; I can almost not imagine a more South African vehicle than a good old bakkie or double-cab, which is so extremely popular on our roads. Recently I had the privilege of chatting to some friends and family members who live overseas, and we somehow managed to touch on the subject that in many other countries, the bakkie or pick-up is not quite as popular there as it is here on South African soil. Having checked out the Mitsubishi Triton recently, I was eager to preview the special edition Triton Athlete this past week through the dynamic dealership at Mitsubishi Menlyn.
At Mitsubishi Menlyn, I meet Dealer Principal Pieter Voges, who also takes on the role of Sales Manager for Mitsubishi and Mazda Menlyn. With twelve years of service to his name, eight of which he has dedicated solely to these two brands, Pieter is an avid supporter of the philosophy that you should put in the effort to do things right the first-time round. Enthusiastic about the Mitsubishi brand and the way in which perceptions around it are changing, Pieter takes pride in the fact that the Dealership feels like a family environment, which he attributes his success to. Having lead this dealership for the past five years as Dealer Principal, Pieter is optimistic about the future of the brand, and enjoys working with his team on the showroom floor. Feedback from his team members show that they rely on his expert guidance and the solid relationships he is proud of forging to best serve the dealership.
As the one and only Sales Executive currently at Mitsubishi Menlyn, Johan Robbertse is also relatively new, with only a year experience in the industry (coupled with his fiery enthusiasm for what he does). Confident in working with a brand which he sees as up-and-coming, Johan tells me that he was won over by the nature of Mitsubishi products and services, which are so unique and innovative to what else is readily available on the market. After immersing himself in the brand, Johan acknowledges the reliability and motivated drive for improvement which the brand stands for, and as a result, leaves Johan feeling excited about his future in the industry where he can see himself one day also managing a Dealership locally.
Noting that the Triton as a start is an under-estimated vehicle due to its relative lack of exposure thus far, Johan adds that the special edition Triton Athlete has to be seen to be believed for what it is truly capable of. Although boasting the same engine and gearbox as the standard edition Triton, the Athlete is released with greater safety features, an overall refreshed look and many more on-board specs that are worth mentioning.
With the same Triton body, I note that the Athlete still possesses the edginess and strength inherent to the Triton, emphasised by its shark-like contours. This double cab is big and it exudes the solid capability of a work-horse bakkie; however, there is now an even edgier side to it in the form of the Athlete variant.
The Triton Athlete interior is one factor that sets it apart. With an overall reworked sporty look, the Athlete’s signature exterior vinyls are carried through into the interior, where the leather upholstery is stitched with high-quality orange thread and has orange highlights and inserts across the cabin. A touchscreen radio and integrated USB/Aux connections take care of your infotainment needs, whilst the reverse camera sets you at ease in terms of parking and manoeuvring the vehicle. Safety features have been substantially enhanced, and the Athlete now boasts 7 airbags as a means of prioritising passenger safety.
Released in only a 4×4 automatic variant, the Triton Athlete has a 2.4 litre engine that is paired with a 5-speed automatic gearbox. In Johan’s opinion, this is a brilliant and reliable combination that achieves exactly what it was designed to do, and that is to provide direct, responsive power to the driver when it is needed most. Kicking out a hearty 430 nM of torque, the Athlete is definitely a power-house; as a result, fuel consumption is rather heavy at 10 litres per 100 kilometres, although the 75-litre fuel tank means longer drives between filling up. Benefits of this super engine include an increased towing capacity of 3.1 tons.
With keyless entry and a host of premium features that include Dual Climate Control, touchscreen infotainment system and a multi-function steering wheel, the Triton is a bakkie with class and style. Ground clearance on the Athlete remains the same at 205mm, and with its 4×4 capabilities, I think the Triton would do really well in harsher conditions too. It is suitably equipped to do so, and – having the option to switch to 4×4 with a twist of a dial – can easily be thrown onto gravel and into ditches without a hitch.
The predominant thought in my mind when I drove the Triton was that Mitsubishi have done quite a few things right in their design: commending the manufacturer for their conscientious design and driver-centric layout, almost as though every aspect of designing the Triton was done from the perspective of the driver and passengers, is a good thread to maintain in the Athlete. Priced at R559 995, this limited edition Triton is a worthwhile investment for the double-cab fanatic or the off-roader that would like to add a little edginess to his fleet.
Carel Landsberg, the Workshop and Service Manager at both Mazda and Mitsubishi Menlyn, has been in the industry for 22 years. With a fiery passion for cars and both brands that he serves, Carel shares with me that he started as an apprentice with these brands many years ago, and moved up to the service sector, then to workshop advisor and ultimately into management. With his favourite Mitsubishi noted to be the Pajero, Carel has his own opinion on the Triton too. As a fantastic vehicle, Carel believes the Triton is locally the best 4×4 available to the public at the moment. Working with a superbly knowledgeable team (under a Master Technician for each brand, equipped with latest training and knowledge) the workshop does extremely well to produce the highest quality work available.
As a Dealership, Mitsubishi Menlyn also have support and aftersales departments that seek to ensure the clients they serve are kept happy; promoting their exceptional parts department and workshop, where the relevant teams work together to ensure the client’s needs are always met. I find the same high standards and work ethic in this environment too. With excitement about the future, the team at Mitsubishi Menlyn are also looking forward to the release of the Mitsubishi Eclipse later this year, which will be the brand’s contribution to the crossover segment.
Journalist: Desh Bechan
Reporter: Inge Stols
Editor: Belinda Anderson