Brent Co / Kelvin Christian Go | February 08, 2017 10:52
Refreshed and powered up for a new challenge
With the fierce competition in the pickup segment, customers inevitably want more from vehicles once considered merely as workshorses. The greater demand for trucks and the presence of so many new models have pushed automakers to offer more in the class.
In response to the new challengers in the segment, Mitsubishi Motors Philippines decided to give the Strada pickup not just a new variant but more power. They call it the GT, serving as the debut of the MIVEC 'clean diesel' powertrain in the Strada, the same one found in the Montero Sport.
There isn’t much they could do to the front end of the Strada. A quick change of the grill from chrome to matte black along with the nudge bar seem to have given it a lot more dynamism. Since you are here to read an honest car review, I didn’t really like how it looked when it first came out; it really looked so far from the dynamic-shield faced concept they showed with the GR-HEV concept. A case of reality versus expectation, perhaps? Or could it be perception? As they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. A front skid plate and blacked-out roll-bar has also been added to the rear to give it that extra tough look and a bit of extra functionality as well. It also gets a new set of wheels exclusive to the GT.
Inside, the GT retains the same interior layout from the previously 'top-spec’ GLS Sport V, except for the addition of black leather seats. Compared to all the other players in the market, the Strada remains the one of the roomiest in terms of passenger space with most comfortable rear occupant seating position. It features the same in-car entertainment with GPS navigation though the sound quality leaves much to be desired.
Under the hood is the MIVEC 2.4-liter turbo diesel capable of 182 PS and 430 Nm of torque. This was a late introduction to the market made possible by the phase out of Euro II diesel fuel in the Philippines and the standardization of cleaner Euro IV fuel. Upon startup, the engine sounds a lot smoother and quieter than most of its competitors. The engine is mated to a 5-speed automatic which can be manipulated using steering wheel mounted magnesium paddles or the gear selector.
On the road, the new engine performed as smooth as it sounded. Acceleration and power delivery were very linear throughout the rev range, though I wish they used the 8-speed automatic from the Montero Sport as it brings out the full potential of the engine. This is not to say that the 5-speed auto is bad; it shifts easily and would be more suited to hauling and towing duties of a pickup.
Base on the on-board trip computer, it averaged 8 km/l in light to moderate city traffic. Out in the highway, at speeds between 80-90 km/h, with occasional mashing of the pedal to enjoy the MIVEC engine, we clocked in 13.8 km/l.
In terms of handling the GT did quite well despite the long rear overhang; engineers seemed to have found the perfect balance for the suspension. Steering radius remains class-leading which makes it an easy drive around town especially with numerous U-turns in Metro roads and tight parking spots from time to time. Ride comfort isn't the best but it's well-managed; I'd say it's comfortably firm.
Our busy calendar didn’t permit going out into the wild this time, but it is equipped with the Super-Select II 4WD system with two 4WD Hi modes: (4H) 40:60 split, unlocked diff and (4HLc) 50:50 split with locked diff. For more demanding conditions, the 4WD Lo (4LLc) is available. Do tread with care as the H/T tires do have low limits of traction when taken off-road.
The Strada may have tall order as Mitsubishi's contender to the ever-competitive local pickup truck segment. With the new engine, slightly retweaked look and a competitive pricetag, it might generate the attention it needs to return to fighting form.