FEATURE STORIES

First Drive: Taking the 2015 Mitsubishi Strada to Banaue

First Drive: Taking the 2015 Mitsubishi Strada to Banaue image

Text: Martin Aguilar / Photos: Brent Co, Martin Aguilar | posted May 29, 2015 15:21

An adventure across the Cordilleras

The pick-up war has certainly begun with various automotive manufacturers fielding their latest contenders in the highly competitive segment.

Joining the fray is the 2015 Mitsubishi Strada fresh from its launch last March. With this, Mitsubishi has organized a drive to Banaue, Ifugao in order to test the capabilities and the performance of its challenger in the pick-up segment.

But before sharing our impressions from the drive, here’s a brief overview of the 2015 Strada.

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The 2015 Mitsubishi Strada

In terms of the design, you can tell that Mitsubishi has given the fifth-generation Strada a complete makeover. Up front, the Strada is fitted with sharper-looking headlights, a revamped bumper and a larger chrome grill. The side profile of the 2015 Strada gets a straight character line that extends up to the vehicle’s rear. It is finished off with wraparound taillights, a more prominent rear bumper and a larger stepboard.

The 2015 Mitsubishi Strada

The 2015 Strada is 165mm longer and 15mm wider than its predecessor. With this, the vehicle now measures 5280mm long and 1815mm wide. The Strada’s wheelbase and height were unchanged which measures 3000mm and 1780mm respectively.

The interior of the 2015 Strada also gets a new look through a new steering wheel design, restyled dashboard and a touchscreen multimedia system that features tire pressure monitoring, reverse camera display, and GPS navigation among others.

Under the hood the 2015 Strada is powered by a 2.5-liter DOHC Turbocharged and Intercooled Common Rail Direct Injection diesel engine that can either produce 136 PS with 324 Nm of torque for the GL and GLX variants or 178 PS with 400 Nm of torque for thanks to the VGT in the GLX V, GLS V and GLS Sport V.

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The drive

The drive started at Mitsubishi’s service center in EDSA Balintawak and we were assigned to get on board the Strada GLS Sport V variant. As we made our way to the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and onto the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX), the power of the 2015 Strada never disappointed as it accelerated and cruised on the open highway with ease.

The 5-speed automatic gearbox shifts smoothly and quickly, which enables the pick-up to overtake with confidence. However, we thought that Mitsubishi should have fitted the 2015 Strada with a 6-speed automatic transmission to be at par with the other vehicles in its class. To put things in perspective, the 2015 Nissan Navara is equipped with a 7-speed automatic transmission while the current Ford Ranger comes with a 6-speed gearbox.

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Tight rural roads

After cruising the open highway, we passed by the rural streets of Cabanatuan, Carangalan, Aritao, Sta. Fe, Bambang and finally Bayombong. Driving through the tight streets were manageable due to the Strada's light steering as well as the 5.9 meter turning radius; the tightest turning circle in its class and a trait commonly associated in Mitsubishi vehicles.

We also noticed that Mitsubishi has done the work to ensure that the Strada’s NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) was improved upon. While driving, we were able to encounter uneven road surface and potholes, but the 2015 Strada’s firmer suspension and increased sound insulating material made the ride more comfortable as compared to its predecessor.

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Tackling the uphill winding road

The 2015 Mitsubishi Strada Drive

During this part of the drive, the 2015 Strada continues to impress as it unleashes its hefty 400 Nm of torque and the power of its turbocharged diesel engine.

The uphill winding road of Ligawe posed no problem for the 2015 Strada. Power and torque pull can be felt between 2500 to 3000 rpm. In addition, the 2015 Strada showcased its improved suspension and responsive steering as it tackled the winding road of Lagawe. Simply put, the 2015 Strada is confident and stable when turning at sharp corners.

When it comes to fuel economy, the 2015 Strada registered 10 km/l during the whole duration of the drive. Expect us to come up with a more precise fuel economy reading once we are able fully test the 2015 Strada.

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The pick-up wars have begun

The 2015 Mitsubishi Strada Drive

Clearly Mitsubishi has spent a lot of time and effort to develop the design, the performance and other important characteristics for the new generation Strada.

So far, Mitsubishi, Nissan and Isuzu have already introduced their respective challengers for the 2015 pick-up wars. In a few months, we would see Toyota’s new Hilux and Ford’s updated Ranger. As a whole, 2015 would be an interesting year for the pick-up segment, and the war has certainly begun.

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But first, it's time to give back to the community

Last February 2012, Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp. (MMPC) organized a trip across the Cordillera Mountains to respond to the call for volunteers for the rehabilitation of the Batad rice terraces. As a review, the Batad rice terraces was once included in the eight wonders of the world. However in 2001, it was registered in UNESCO’s endangered list due to the series of typhoons that swept the country which caused landslides and damaged a portion of the Batad rice terraces.

The Batad Rice Terraces

Three years later, MMPC decided to revisit the majestic heritage by coinciding it with this 2015 Strada media test drive. Speaking to the group of motoring media, advocate and photographer John Chua told the story behind the successful restoration of the Batad rice terraces.

According to Chua, he and the people of Batad revived the spirit of bayanihan (spirit of cooperation) or locally called bachang which was either gone or forgotten by the young Ifugaos. Without government funds, Chua and the natives revived the Ifugao bayanihan spirit to be able to restore the Batad rice terraces.

Mitsubishi gives back to the Batad community

Their efforts were not put into waste as various stories were published narrating their advocacy to rebuild the damaged heritage. With this, the word spread like a wild fire and the term called ‘voluntourism’ (volunteerism and tourism) emerged which paved the way to rebuild the Batad rice terraces.

Aside from revisiting the restored rice terraces, MMPC took the opportunity to help the local community by providing donations to the Batad Elementary School. Some of MMPC’s donations were teaching materials, 24-inch LCD tvs, iPads among others.