Resilient bakkie

Bruce Fraser

Bruce Fraser

Designing a bakkie these days can be no easy job.

It's trying to get that mix just right - a combination of urban chic coupled with a touch of ruggedness. Something like Paris Hilton mixed with Chuck Norris . nice to look at but guaranteed to kick some butt when the going gets tough.

The Mitsubishi Triton fits the bill quite nicely. When first launched a couple of years back the design was greeted with mixed reaction.

A criticism was that the lines were too radical for the South African market, but thankfully, Mitsubishi stuck to their guns and maintained its basic shape - albeit with a few modifications - with the new generation that was launched late last year in the Eastern Cape.

I say thankfully, because I really like the shape.

Too often today the only thing that differentiates one bakkie from another is the small badge positioned on the front of the vehicle. Apart from that they look like they were designed in the same studio and made on the same production line.

The Triton is different.

The large bonnet you peer over from the driver's seat instils a sense of security- along with an assortment of air bags - in the event of an accident.

Design-wise, it gets quite radical where the double-cab meets the bin. Here the curves are abrupt but in synergy with the rest of the vehicle.

The interior provides all the comfort you come to expect from vehicles these days - whether a sedan, bakkie or SUV.

For those who do like to spend a bit of time off road you won't be disappointed. Its off-road capabilities are surprising, as I found out during the Sprit of Africa rally last year.

Sand dunes, swamps and plain old gravel in the far-northern reaches of KwaZulu-Natal were tackled with gusto by the Triton.

Around town driving - which is probably where it will spend most of its time - is comfortable and the rear seats in the double cab provide adequate space.

It is a large vehicle, so, if parallel parking is not one of your strong points - even with responsive power steering - you might find it a bit of a handful.

The 2,4litre petrol engine coughs up a respectable 97kW and the bin can carry a maximum of 960kg.