Gareth Butterfield dons his work-boots and reviews the Mitsubishi L200
THIS is the new Mitsubishi L200. Imposing, isn’t it?
While the last one could have as slender by comparison to rivals, athletic perhaps, this new version looks butch and rugged. Ready to take on anything.
This new, more aggressive stance, is achieved by its higher bonnet, which is now 40mm further from the ground than it was before. Those peaky headlights are actually 100mm higher. Stand next to it and you’ll feel remarkably small, all of a sudden. It’s a bit of a monster.
Cleverly, though, it’s all a bit of visual trickery. The L200 is actually only slightly longer than the outgoing version it replaces and it’s exactly the same height and width. Look at it side-on, ignoring that beefed-up front end, and it’s very similar in profile.
Despite its lithe looks, the previous L200 was always as tough as old boots. It’s a text-book pick-up truck in that respect, because it can be your ultimate workhorse should you rely on something that can take on any terrain and won’t mind hard work.
But this new version, the sixth generation of the hugely popular L200, is even tougher and even more capable with a stronger chassis and full-time four-wheel-drive that can actually be used on the road and engaged at speeds of up to 62mph.
Even more impressively, all this extra strength and capability, which incidentally helps it tow up to 3.5 tonnes, has hardly resulted in the L200 piling on the pounds. It’s overall weight is 1,080kg and the overall train weight is a remarkable 6,155kg.
Of course, it is, and always has been a top performer off road, but what I think is even more laudable is its relatively polite road manners.
Pick-up trucks have a tendency to jerk around and pitch and wallow a little too much thanks to their ladder-frame chassis and enormous mass – but the L200 is by far the most driveable offering I’ve tried.
To keep up with the times, and help you out while on the blacktop, there’s a host of safety features available in the latest L200.
A Blind Spot Warning system, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Change Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Forward Collision Mitigation, Hill Start Assist and Trailer Stability Assist can all be had if you tick the right boxes.
Mitsubishi has also treated its newcomer to a new 2.3-litre diesel engine. It’s actually down 28hp and 30Nm compared to the old unit, but it still pulls well thanks to an efficient turbo that develops power at lower revs.
Along with a better automatic gearbox it’s remarkably good on fuel economy. Mitsubishi reckons it’s good for 29.1mpg with the auto ‘box, but I managed to knock on the door of 40mpg without having to try too hard.
There are downsides. The engine might pull well, but it certainly sounds “agricultural”. This is something pick-up drivers will be used to, of course.
The infotainment system is particularly low-tech and do bear in mind the interior is intended to be hard-wearing and resilient, rather than luxurious.
That said, the seats are all comfortable, visibility is excellent, legroom in the back is pretty good and that gaping load bay at the back will swallow up all manner of things with ease.
What’s marvellous about these double-cab pickups is that it can plausibly be used as a family car, but it’s also a great tool for business. It’s a proper all-rounder.
L200 fans tend to stay loyal and they’ll now find themselves being rewarded for that loyalty with one of the best pick-ups on the market.
Even in its most desirable Barbarian X trim it’s far from luxurious, but that’s not the point. It stays true to its brief and delivers a solid tool when the going gets tough, and a pleasant runabout when you’re back on hard-standing.