But whether it can or not is the bigger question.
It’s been a few months since the Ford Ranger Raptor landed on Australian shores, and despite the (many) detractors throwing it insults for only packing a twin-turbo 2.0-litre oiler, it’s caused quite a splash in the industry. HSV’s already responded with the Colorado SportsCat that barks more than it bites, and both Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz are touting power dominance over the Ranger Raptor with their Amarok V6 and X-Class V6 respectively.
But Mitsubishi won’t let its Triton stand idle, especially in Australia, the second-largest market for the ute. They want a hotter version, a Triton Ralliart perhaps, to respond to the threat that the Ranger Raptor poses in earnest. And while such a model can’t be fielded in the very-near future, Mitsubishi’s reportedly already looking at working such a model into the lineup when the company renews the Triton to a new generation in another 7-odd years.
As Mitsubishi is now owned by Nissan (and part of the Japanese-French ‘Alliance’ with Renault), the new Triton will be co-developed alongside the Nissan Navara, which itself may be tweaked in the next-generation to also include a hotted-up NISMO variant. But zeroing back on the Triton, a hot halo model for the range would provide Mitsubishi an opportunity to introduce a more profitable model into the otherwise value-driven Triton without really upsetting the model’s appeal.
Our friends at Motoring spoke to Mitsubishi Australia boss John Signoriello, who expressed his enthusiasm for a hotted-up, beefier, brawnier variant of the Triton.
“Who wouldn’t love to see something like that?” — John Signoriello, CEO, Mitsubishi Australia
But where the Ford Ranger Raptor was developed partially in Australia, in Ford’s massive proving grounds here, a Triton Ralliart might not be afforded the same kind of attention simply due to the fact that Mitsubishi doesn’t have the necessary research and development facilities here. As such, this is how Signoriello responded when asked if the hot Triton would be developed in Japan or in Australia:
“I think there could be a combination of both. Ideally, I think it should be developed in Japan if we went down that path. I’m not sure what they’re working son, but we’d be more than happy to take the lead on something like that if given the opportunity.” — John Signoriello, CEO, Mitsubishi Australia
With an all-new model (that can accommodate a high-performance variant) still a long-way off, nearer-term solutions include versions of the Triton that are more similar to the HSV Colorado SportsCat in execution: More flash than bang. A 2019 refresh of the Triton will debut in Thailand in November, and it’ll arrive on our shores by December, bringing with it updates to the kit, aesthetics, and powertrain.
During the launch of the 2019 Mitsubishi Triton, there will also be a concept designed to ‘preview’ what a hardcore, performance-focused Triton would look like. The concept will ultimately be a showcar, though it’s purpose will be to gauge reaction to the proposition of a higher-positioned, higher-powered Triton, as well as to see market reaction to its overall package and aesthetics.
In the even shorter term, it’s possible that Mitsubishi Australia will introduce a new variant to sit above the Triton Exceed, charging more than the $49,000 that that model demands while adding either additional luxury or capability. He said that it’d be wise to keep in mind that his office “wouldn’t leave any stone unturned” to concretely ascertain its capabilities in developing models for our market. To us, his last statement seems like a very strong suggestion that a new flagship Triton will be upon us come December.