Mitsubishi sets new benchmark with 2015 Strada
More News from Charles Buban
MANILA, Philippines–It was in September 2006 when Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp. (MMPC) introduced a pickup truck that featured many firsts: a shapely new bodywork that is more car-like, both in and out; spacious and comfortable rear seats; and a diesel engine that balances power and efficiency.
The Strada instantly captured the market’s attention, and in the months following its introduction, the Strada became a consecutive best seller in its category. It even received several prestigious awards like the 2007 Coty (Car of the Year) Pickup of the Year, as well as the 2007 Coty Best-Looking Utility Vehicle.
Nine years later and with the fifth iteration of Mitsubishi’s 36-year-old pickup line arriving in showrooms next month, MMPC hopes to repeat the feat as the company looks at selling 700 all-new Stradas per month.
This should be interesting considering a pickup war is brewing in the market now that Nissan Philippines Inc. has just launched its all-new Nissan NP300 Navara pickup, while Toyota, despite being mum on the existence of a new Hilux, has been seen testing one as cited by some automotive websites.
On the other hand, photos of a redesigned 2015 Ranger Wildtrak has also been posted online, probably while being test-driven around Thailand.
Of course, we should also expect the D-Max to be updated this year by Isuzu.
According to Mitsubishi Motors Corp. (Japan) Global Pickup Project Promotion Office corporate GM Koichi Namiki, the all-new Strada has the upper hand over its competitors as it further refines the “Sport Utility Truck” concept popularized by the previous generation.
The concept refers to Strada’s previous success in merging passenger car comfort with the pickup truck’s functionality and reliability.
“It rides, handles and drives like a car, possesses the beauty and stance of an SUV, but delivers the power and practicality of a pickup,” he explained.
Last November, MMC and MMPC invited this writer along with other members of the Motoring media to a sneak preview of the all-new Strada in Tokyo, Japan. We were also fortunate to test-drive the pickup at the Sodegaura Forest Raceway for a short lap on a 1.2-km track, and afterward, on an off-road course.
The all-new Strada sports a brand-new and aerodynamic front end that borrows styling cues from the futuristic GR-HEV (Grand Runner-hybrid electric vehicle) concept that was presented at the 2013 edition of the Geneva Motor Show: chromed grille with six claw-like horizontal slats; larger, higher-set headlights with jewel-like blue daytime running lights incorporated; and a muscular-looking bumper with a large air intake.
The sculpted tail gate, on the other hand, is fitted with bigger tail lamps that stretched far into the quarter panel.
The all-new Strada has also grown in size. It’s now 5.280 meters long (longer by 70 mm) and 1.815 m wide (wider by 15 mm), although it remains 1.78 m tall.
There’s good news for those who require more load at the back since the bed of the all-new Strada has likewise increased: 1.47 m wide, 1.52 m long, and 475 mm deep.
More cabin space
Mitsubishi also reports that the all-new Strada offers more cabin space—additional 10-mm shoulder room, 5-mm headroom at the front, and 20 mm of extra rear legroom at the rear.
New sound insulation, absorption and damping materials are also installed to make the cabin a lot more quiet.
But just like its predecessor, the all-new Strada retained the distinctive “J-line” that separates the cab and cargo bed. The J-line, incidentally, allows the rear seats to have a nicely angled backrest.
Also, the all-new Strada retained its predecessor’s 3-meter-long wheelbase, which means the new version still possesses the low 5.9-meter turning radius.
The Philippine market would have loved the new engine option that is available: an all-aluminum, Euro 5-compliant (exhaust emissions) 2.4-liter, Mivec (Mitsubishi Innovative Valve Timing Electronic Control System), diesel engine equipped with a variable-geometry turbochargers (generating 178 horsepower and 430 Newton-meters of torque).
However, considering this state-of-the-art engine requires a very high grade of diesel fuel (which is not yet available locally), MMPC opted for the tried and tested third generation 4D56 2.5-liter diesel engine equipped with variable-geometry turbochargers that generates 176 HP and 350 Nm of torque. Transmission choices include a six-speed manual gearbox and a five-speed automatic.