Mitsubishi L200 – ride and refinement transformed

OuTSIDE of America’s large pick-up market, Mitsubishi was first to pitch its ‘compact’ model to a broader audience than those after a strictly working 4×4. The rising sun shone and it made hay with a dominant Series 3 (1996-2006). Now ‘Series 6’ is here.

Fortunately, much of the motivation behind the migration to pick-ups from SuVs is the desire for a credible 4×4 capable of a proper day’s work. Improved refinement and comfort has not come by diluting its ‘fit for purpose’ character – thus far at least.

Series 4 (2006-2015) introduced ‘design’ (styling) to the pick-up world with a new-look 4-door double cab. Although total dominance had gone (the competition did not sit on its hands), Series 4 consolidated its ‘Top 5’ position here. Series 5 was uK No.2 to Ford’s Ranger last year and (to end Q3) this year too.

Series 4 also shored up its presence in the marketplace as HMRC caught up with this new type of “business car” and sales fell. It also paved the way for 2015’s Series 5 – a response to VW’s Amarok, Ford Ranger and Isuzu D-Max as this decade’s recovery in demand for pick-ups gathered pace.

Along too has come Nissan’s latest Navara and a new Toyota HiLux. Further, Mercedes has responded to VW’s ‘quality’ product with an attempt to create a ‘premium’ pick-up with a Navara-based but re-designed X220/250 and X350.

Series 6 has a new 2.2-litre 150ps 4cyl Diesel replacing the previous 2.4 (151/178ps) units but has a keener torque profile. AdBlue aided, it meets stricter ‘Euro 6d’ emissions rules while new WLTP-audited economy remains competitive. Series 5 introduced a new 6-speed manual transmission and now the autobox is 6- speed too.

Conventional layout: separate chassis; independent front suspension but beam rear axle with semi-elliptic (leaf) springs; rear wheel drive, selectable 4×4 and a transfer box for high/low ratios. As before, High-Series* models have ‘Super Select’ 4×4. It allows 4×4 H/R on-road (dry surface or otherwise at any speed) via a Torsen (torque-sensing) variable locking differential. Lock-up 4×4 HR/LR too of course.

New springs and dampers have yielded far better ride, handling and refinement – a clear improvement on the previous Series 5. Cabin interior has also benefited from the exercise (fit and finish; greater comfort) and engine/road noise is more subdued.

Model Line-Up: Club Cab 4Life (rear-hinged half-doors); Double Cab 4Life; D/C L200 Warrior*; D/C Barbarian*; D/C Barbarian X* (auto only); £21,515 – £32,200 (CV OTR); £25,755 – £38,577 (VAT included). Payload (slight increase): 1,045 – 1,080kg. Max Braked Trailer (as before): 3.5t (3 axle), 3.1t (2 axle). Wading depth: 60cm.

Facts & Figures: Barbarian X £32,200 CV OTR; 106mph; 36.2mpg (NEDC); 29.1 (WLTP); Trip Computer on test 31-33 (motorway best of 37); 30 (brim to brim). Light load, no trailer. Road Tax £260 (LCV flat rate). Top ‘spec’, much active safety technology but no standard-fit SatNav. Warranty: 5yrs/62,500miles. Ins Grp 37E-42E.

Verdict: Ride and refinement transformed while full working 4×4 ability retained. Not the fastest or highest total load capacity and lack of standard-fit SatNav a minus point (good paired-in iPhone or not). Trump card: full on-road H/R 4×4 (Manual & Auto) – huge asset in the wet and/or towing, etc. Offered on Amarok but H/R only; Mercedes H&L/R but auto only – both dearer. Cumulatively, this “made-over” L200 is far more than the sum of its (new) parts.

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