Deluxe-spec, crew cab pick-up trucks seem to be a minor obsession in the UK. Seems like every builder, landscaper, farmer and weekend adventurer has one.
The old Mitsubishi L200 was the best-selling such pick-up by some margin, Mitsubishi claims. This new, fifth-generation version aims to pick up (ha!) where its predecessor left off.
That it does, while moving the game on a bit. The styling hasn’t changed radically, but some new body surfacing breaks up the previously barrel-sided look. It’s definitely imposing, possibly even attractive. Though the huge, chrome conk doesn’t work for me.
The interior is a massive improvement. It used to feel like it was made from the same plastic as wheely bins, but now there are lots of soft-touch surfaces and silver-coloured trim. Still some harder plastics low down, but they’ll stand up to steel toe capped boots better.
This top-spec Barbarian model comes with everything you really need: dual-zone aircon, DAB radio, satnav, reversing camera, Bluetooth, USB socket, heated leather seats and so on. Mitsubishi’s infotainment system isn’t the best, but the touchscreen responds quickly so I can forgive a few navigational quirks.
Passengers have plenty of space and very comfortable seats, while the driving position gives fantastic visibility. At over 17 feet long this is a very big vehicle, but you’re never particularly aware of the fact. At least, not until you try to manoeuvre it, when the back-up camera and big side mirrors prove a godsend.
An all-new, aluminium 2.4-litre diesel engine lives under the bonnet, serving up 178bhp and 313lb/ft of torque. You can feel every one of them; there’s ample lazy oomph here. By car standards it’s rather clattery, but it settles into the background at a cruise. Quoted economy numbers of 42.8mpg and 173g/km of Co2 are significantly better than any rival – we saw 26mpg, which didn’t seem unreasonable.
Our car came with a six-speed manual gearbox which has a smooth, if long, throw. Personally, though, I’d perfer the automatic as they suit big torque diesels better.
Handling is surprisingly precise, with nicely weighted, accurate steering. The chassis has been stiffened and the suspension retuned, resulting in little bodyroll even when cornering, let’s say, vigorously. Still feels a bit top-heavy, though, which put me off trying any heroics.
Didn’t help that the ride is extremely bouncy. Not from the independently-suspended front, but from the leaf-sprung rear which sends shock waves through the whole chassis. But this a working vehicle, designed to carry 1,000kg in the back and it doesn’t take much weight to settle the suspension down to the point it’s as calm as any SUV with a rigid axle.
An amusing side effect of the lack of weight over the back axle is that it will kick the tail out pretty easily. In rear-wheel-drive mode on a slick/loose surface, booting the power lights up the rear wheels very easily, even with the traction control on.
I didn’t get the chance to drive the truck off-road, but it is by all accounts at least as good as anything else in the class.
Predictably, the L200 didn’t even break sweat on the three tip runs I subjected it to. The load bed is perfectly square, at 1,470mm long and wide, which is on par with anything else in the class. The drop-down tailgate is 800mm off the floor, which makes loading heavy stuff trickier, and it doesn’t have any storage lockers in the bed. Other than that, you really can’t fault it for load-lugging ability, especially considering the 3.1-ton towing capacity.
The L200 drives well, has a pleasant interior and is supremely practical. I really like it. I might be biased on that because I like big stuff generally. But there’s no denying it sits right at the top of the pick-up truck tree.
Mitsubishi L200 2.4 Di-D Barbarian
Price: £23,799 plus VAT
Engine: 2.4-litre 4-cylinder turbo diesel
Transmission: 6-speed manual; 4-wheel-drive
Power/Torque: 178bhp; 313lb/ft
Economy/Emissions: 42.8mpg; 173g/km
0-62mph: 10.4 seconds
Top speed: 111mph
For more information click here
By Only Motors