2015 Nissan Navara | first drive review
Ewan Kennedy road tests and reviews the Nissan Navara, with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.
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Australia invented the ute more than 90 years ago and is now at the centre of its reinvention.
The idea is still the same: a workhorse during the week that becomes a family car on weekends.
In many ways the humble utility vehicle has assumed the role once held by generations of Holdens and Fords.
So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that “pick-ups” are now the third most popular type of vehicle in Australia after small cars and SUVs. And families are as much a part of the surge in sales as the mining industry.
Pick-ups are now the third most popular type of vehicle in Australia after small cars and SUVs.
These workhorse utes were initially built to much lower standards for our neighbouring Asian countries, but most new generation models now meet the same high safety standards as regular cars -- in Australia at least.
Customers expect a full complement of airbags, stability control, a rear-view camera, and car-like driving dynamics, among other mod cons.
But there is still a large gap between new and old utes, because their model cycles typically last 10 years -- about twice as long as passenger car updates.
Which is why it’s a big deal when an all-new model arrives. The Mitsubishi Triton is the first all-new model of its breed in 10 years and leads a charge of five new or heavily revised models over the next six months.
Never before have so many top-selling ute replacements arrived so close to each other. The all-new Nissan Navara is due next month, followed by updated versions of the Ford Ranger and Mazda BT-50 in July and then, in October, the big gun arrives, the first all-new Toyota HiLux in 10 years, the successor to Australia’s top-selling workhorse for more than three decades.
Against this backdrop you could be forgiven for thinking car makers would give their absolute all when creating their new generation machines. After all, they’ve had 10 years to come up with new ideas and their all-new model must last another decade.
Furthermore, Australia is the second-biggest market in the world for the Triton after Thailand where it’s made, and it has been Mitsubishi’s top seller locally for the past three years. It’s fair to say there is a lot riding on its shoulders.
Never before have so many top-selling ute replacements arrived so close to each other.
The new four-door 4WD Triton range starts about $10,000 more than the outgoing model, which has been $29,990 drive-away or less for the better part of a year.
In fact, Mitsubishi will continue to sell the old model alongside the new one until stock runs out, likely some time in June.
The new four-door 4WD starts from $36,990 plus on-road costs (close to $40,000 drive-away in round numbers, the exact figure wasn’t on the website as this article was published) for the GLX, and rises to $40,990 plus on-roads for the middle of the range GLS, and climbs to $47,490 plus on-roads for the newly-named leather-lined Exceed version.
The official price list shows a reduction of between $500 and $4750 on the RRPs of each model. But given that Mitsubishi has been the discount king for the past two years, the new RRPs bring the prices closer to what people were actually paying.
The new Triton may at first glance appear to be a reskin of the old model, such is the familiarity of its ungainly, praying mantis-like design.
But more than 80 per cent of the vehicle is new; only three sections of floor and the main chassis rails carry over from the old model.
Every body panel and every piece of glass is unique. The cabin is roomier than before and yet the back seat retains its passenger-car-like backrest angle (25 degrees), but the rear window opening on previous high-grade models is gone in lieu of 20mm extra knee room on all models.
Much effort went into body strengthening, which is one of the reasons the new Triton recently earned a five-star safety rating, even outclassing a new BMW.
The sleek shape also makes the Triton the most aerodynamic among its peers at freeway speeds. The comparatively short distance between the front and rear wheels means it maintains the tightest turning circle in the class, at 11.8 metres. Some small cars need a bigger arc to make a U-turn.
The 2.4-litre turbo diesel engine is all-new too, and, although down on power compared with rivals, is truly a highlight of the car. It is eerily quiet (with the windows up or down, so it’s not cheating with extra sound deadening behind the dashboard), and a smooth operator.
An important hidden benefit with the new engine: there is no need to replace the timing belt every 100,000km because Mitsubishi now uses a maintenance-free timing chain.
Weighing less than two-tonnes the new Mitsubishi Triton is roughly 100kg lighter than most of the competition, and this combined with the new engine helps it become the most fuel efficient in its class (according to the Federal Government fuel rating label).
The new Triton may at first glance appear to be a reskin of the old model.
The driver’s seating position has improved markedly. The cramped layout of the previous Triton left tall drivers facing the prospect of having their knees up near their ears; the new model has a more car-like driving position and is one of only two utes in the class with height and reach adjustment for the steering wheel.
The seats themselves also deserve a mention. With large side bolsters they offer good lateral support. The deep cushion makes you feel like you’re sitting snugly, rather than on a pew. Room for improvement?The seat base could extend slightly to offer a little more under-thigh support.
An unusual highlight, but one worth mentioning: the high intensity discharge headlights (on the top two models) really do turn night into day, with a super bright blue-ish white glow that illuminates every nook and cranny of the bush track or freeway in front of you. The L-shaped daytime running lights on the top two models also make it easier for other traffic to spot the Triton, especially on shady, tree-lined country roads.
Downsides? The new Triton can only tow 3100kg (up from the predecessor’s 3000kg) when the last four all-new utes to go on sale locally can pull a claimed 3500kg (Ford Ranger, Mazda BT-50, Holden Colorado and, following an upgrade, the Isuzu D-Max).
Is that a big deficiency? It depends how much you need to tow, of course. But it’s worth noting the biggest selling ute in the land, the Toyota HiLux, can only haul 2500kg.
For its part, Mitsubishi says most customers tow less than 1.5 tonnes, the majority never tow more than 2.5 tonnes and, according to its figures, only 5 per cent of ute buyers ever tow 3.5 tonnes.
Other shortcomings: a rear view camera is not standard on the $36,990 version of the four-door 4WD Triton (even though it’s standard on a $14,990 Honda Jazz). A rear camera is only standard on the two dearest Triton models. Instead, it’s a $750 dealer-fit option across the rest of the range.
Mitsubishi’s class-exclusive “Super Select” system that can switch from two-wheel-drive to four-wheel-drive on sealed roads (not to be confused with “Easy Select” which can only use four-wheel-drive on loose surfaces) is only available on the two most expensive models.
If we had a magic wand, we’d make “Super Select” an option on the cheapest 4WD model.
Other jobs for the facelift: the new Triton needs more USB ports (it only has one, it needs at least a couple more) and there are only two 12V power sockets in the cabin (and none in the ute tray).
Only the driver gets auto up and down windows, the same luxury ought to be afforded to all other doors.
A digital speedo on the screen display between the analogue dials would be a welcome addition in the country with the most strictly enforced speed limits.
A rear camera should be standard on every model given that utes and 4WDs are overrepresented in driveway incidents with toddlers and infants.
And, a controversial suggestion, maybe the base model could have a bit less chrome. Dark grey grille anyone?
On the move it’s apparent the Triton has less grunt than its peers. There is still a slight delay in power delivery from low revs, but once you’re above 1800rpm there is sufficient pulling power.
The six-speed manual has a light and smooth shift action and the five-speed auto can now handle the same torque as the manual gearbox, so there is no trade-off. The top-line Exceed automatic even gets F1-style gearshift levers behind the steering wheel.
With its revised suspension set-up Mitsubishi has done a good job making the new Triton feel less nervous than the old one. But, if I’m honest, there is still room for improvement.
The Triton has skinnier tyres than the class leaders, perhaps wider rubber on the road might help take some of the flutter and jiggling out of what appear to be relatively smooth roads.
This is the best Triton ever. But unfortunately it falls short of being a class leader. The rest of the ute market has moved forward further than perhaps Mitsubishi had anticipated.
|Exceed (4x4)||2.4L, Diesel, 5 SP AUTO||$24,990 – 35,990||2015 Mitsubishi Triton 2015 Exceed (4x4) Pricing and Specs|
|GL||2.4L, ULP, 5 SP MAN||$10,990 – 17,990||2015 Mitsubishi Triton 2015 GL Pricing and Specs|
|GLS (4X4)||2.4L, Diesel, 6 SP MAN||$21,880 – 34,990||2015 Mitsubishi Triton 2015 GLS (4X4) Pricing and Specs|
|GLX||2.5L, Diesel, 4 SP AUTO||$9,990 – 27,990||2015 Mitsubishi Triton 2015 GLX Pricing and Specs|