Mitsubishi hasn’t committed to developing a tougher new Triton ute to tackle the Ford Ranger Raptor just yet, but the company is keen to make it happen.
A tougher Triton would be a part of the reborn Ralliart program currently being discussed at Mitsubishi head office, and would draw on lessons learned in the Asian Cross Country Rally (AXCR).
“We’ve been participating in a lot of competitions. The purpose of doing that is not just for promotion, but also to gain a lot of information from that kind of very serious usage,” executive officer responsible for product at Mitsubishi Motors, Koichi Namiki, told Australian media.
Namiki-san says Mitsubishi has “collected a lot of data” from its recent AXCR efforts, and suggested that’s the sort of development that could underpin the future of Ralliart.
Hiroshi Masuoka, Mitsubishi development driver and head of Ralliart, told CarExpert the value of equipment such as locking front and rear differentials became clear to him piloting a modified Triton in the 2022 AXCR – findings which could inform a production Triton Ralliart down the track.
Along with dual locking differentials, the AXCR features a stripped-out cabin, tougher off-road wheels and tyres, and additional underbody bracing and protection.
If it’s not developed in-house, it’s possible Mitsubishi could lean on the expertise of Walkinshaw (like Volkswagen with the Amarok W580) or Premcar (like Nissan with the Navara Warrior) to develop the Triton into a more capable beast in Australia.
More power is unlikely for the Triton Ralliart regardless of which approach Mitsubishi decides to take, due to the cost of homologating a boosted engine for just one model.
John Signoriello, head of sales and marketing for Mitusbishi globally, instead pointed to suspension and off-road hardware changes as a potential focus.
“Performance? It’s powertrain, but it’s other things as well. This is about a complete package,” Mr Signoriello told Australian media. If it does decide to commit to the Triton Ralliart, the executive emphasised the need to “do it properly”.
“Ralliart is a very proud name, it’s a very strong name, and we need to do it justice.”
The current Triton flagship is the GSR, which is mechanically unchanged from the broader range and instead differentiates itself with styling and interior changes.
That leaves Mitsubishi without a rival for the Ford Ranger Raptor and Toyota HiLux Rogue, both of which feature significant mechanical changes relative to their base cars to unlock more capability.
The new Triton ute will debut mid-year in Thailand, where it’s built, ahead of an expected arrival Down Under late in 2023 or early in 2024.
The new Triton will ride on a new platform, and features a new diesel engine under the bonnet at launch.
Teased by the XRT concept revealed in Bangkok last month, the new Triton is expected to feature a more upmarket interior than the current car, along with tougher styling and a bigger body.