Mitsubishi Motors has not had a very good decade. Their lineup has dwindled down to four models and the the company has struggled to stay relevant as a brand as they hemorrhage market share. However, a new Triton Ralliart truck shows some signs of life in a company once rich with enthusiast-oriented offerings.
The Mitsubishi Triton Ralliart will participate in the 2022 Asia Cross Country Rally, which takes place primarily in Thailand. The Triton is built there and exported throughout southeast Asia, which happens to be one of the few markets in which Mitsubishi still enjoys decent sales.
Though not sold in the U.S., the four-wheel-drive Ranger-sized pickup is available in four-cylinder gas, diesel and turbodiesel configurations, the most powerful of which makes 176 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. Manual and automatic transmissions are available, with the latest versions each offering six speeds.
The Triton marks a return for the company’s Ralliart banner. Though Mitsubishi had been rally racing since the 1960s, the Ralliart name only made its debut in 1981. The dedicated motorsports arm allowed the company to build and campaign models like the Lancer and Galant VR-4 in international rally races, ultimately leading to a slew of World Rally Championship wins, and an equally impressive string of victories at the Paris-Dakar Rally.
Ralliart folded up in 2010 after the global financial crisis and lay dormant for over a decade. Last year Mitsubishi quietly revived the brand, revealed a concept, released a lineup of accessories for its vehicles (available only in Asia) and hinted at a racing comeback. The Triton is the first Ralliart-branded vehicle since the revival.
Mitsubishi didn’t reveal what modifications were made to the Triton. One encouraging sign, however, is the fact that the rally team is headed by Hiroshi Masuoka, a long-time Mitsubishi driver who won the Paris-Dakar twice. Masuoka was also a test driver who helped develop the Pajero (known in the U.S. as the Montero). Sadly, the Pajero factory was sold last week to a toilet paper manufacturer, but perhaps Masuoka can recapture a bit of Mitsubishi’s past glory with the Triton, even if he’s essentially starting from scratch.
The Triton effort, and yesterday’s announcement that Mitsubishi was donating 1 million euros to aid Ukrainian refugees, suggests Mitsubishi feels it is in a better place financially. That is backed up a return to profitability in the last quarter of 2021, buoyed by sales of the new Outlander. The Asia Cross Country Rally takes place August 6-12.