Dive wagon: Mitsubishi L200

Latest generation pick-up truck is most stylish to date

Author: Pat
16th April 2012
 

Mitsubishi says the fourth generation L200 pick-up truck is more ‘car-like’ than ever.

Unlike their passenger car cousins, things tend to move much slower in the commercial vehicle world. Ongoing reputation is all, and when it comes to the stalwarts – Hilux, Navara, et al – it’s definitely a case of evolution rather than revolution.

Arguably the most important feature of this car is the load area. Out of the factory the Barbarian’s may just be one of the prettiest, such as it is lined with bright silver check plating. Aesthetics aside, the rear tailgate cannot be locked shut and relies on an optional sliding cover to be made secure. Since the load area is effectively this car’s only boot, for me this would be a must-have option. A pivoting tonneau cover or fibreglass canopy can also be specified at cost. Let’s face it, you really wouldn’t want to leave half a dozen tanks and your rebreather lying unlocked in there.

fling your wet gear in the back and let it dry all the way home

The L200 does make for ideal dive transport. We flung cylinders, drysuits, a small mountain of peripherals (why does gear just seem to accumulate?) into the rear and it was just swallowed up. Best of all, flip down the tailgate for a perfectly placed kitting up bench: post-dive, fling your wet gear into the back and let it dry all the way home.

As interiors go, this one leans towards practicality. Given the demands put upon a pick-up throughout its life, whether seawater or good old fashioned mud, the plastics are both hard and necessarily abundant. The cows used for the leather appear to have been fed on Kevlar grass too. You’ll need to shell out more for heated seats, but there are creature comforts to enjoy including a Kenwood sat nav and multimedia system, reversing camera, privacy glass and electric door mirrors. Note there are touches make it easier to live with on site, too: there’s a secret tray beneath the passenger seat, a lockable glovebox and map reading lamps. (continues below video)

Riding on such massive 17” wheels with huge ground clearance, the sitting positions are high. Mitsubishi claims to offer the most spacious cabin in the segment, and I could believe it. There’s no shortage of legroom and even with the front seats fully back, my knees didn’t suffer.

In the design phase, there must’ve been a temptation to ‘bish bash bosh’ three boxes together. Mitsubishi has done its best to create something special. The double cab (shorter L200 models are available with a single cabin) of the L200 Barbarian actually curves pleasingly around at the rear doors, providing a distinct teardrop shape to the window line. The boxiness of the previous gen has been softened around the nose and front wings, along with gently contoured tail lamps at the rear

‘Barbarian’ trim adds extra visual attitude. There’s chrome on the front grille, side steps and on light bezels at the rear. ‘Barbarian’ badging is stitched into the leather, backlit in blue on the sills, and emblazoned across the doors and tailgate.

It definitely looks the business, but should commercial vehicle shoppers be worried this L200 is style over substance?

In test guise this car packs Mitsubishi’s familiar 2.5-litre common rail diesel engine. Mated to an automatic gearbox it produces 175bhp at full pelt with 350Nm of torque. Although Euro 4 compliant this lump is ageing somewhat, so turn the key and it ticks over with a clatter-clatter. Stick it in D and from a standing start there’s plenty of go, but it runs out of steam at about 3,000 revs. Low speed is definitely where the L200 is happiest.

At motorway speeds noise doesn’t so much intrude as take over the cabin. So it’s no Lexus, but hey: personally I prefer to feel connected with the road, which isn’t always the case with large cars. The L200’s rearward-facing window can be opened electronically via a switch hidden beneath the ashtray, providing fresh cabin air without the sunburnt arm synonymous with van drivers.

Put to work, the L200 is undeniably up to the most demanding of jobs. The transmission utilises Mitsubishi’s Super Select part-time all-wheel drive. Ordinarily the rear wheels put the power down, as indicated on the instrument panel legend. There’s a secondary smaller gear lever to the side of the automatic shifter: slot it into ‘4H’ and all four wheels are connected. But there are two further ultra-low ratio modes with a centre differential lock: just to be confusing, one Low ‘high’, and one Low ‘low’. So it’s loooooooowwww, presumably for dragging a RIB through snow whilst crawling up a 1-in-3 hill. Or something like that anyway.

In any gear there’s a maximum braked trailer towing limit of 2.7 tons, with just over a ton of payload capacity supported by the crude yet solid leaf spring suspension. Fully laden like that it’ll be about as nimble as The Hindenburg, but naked the L200 will accelerate from 0-62 mph in 13 seconds. Budget for CO2 emissions of 248g/km too, which will be taxed according to status either as a private car or commercial vehicle. Incidentally, I discovered it counts as the latter when paying the Severn Bridge toll en route to NDAC Chepstow. Luckily there are plenty of loose change holders in the cabin.

This car officially returns 30.1 miles per gallon on the combined cycle. That’s running in rear-wheel drive mode only, so expect that figure to drop significantly with all four wheels doing the work, and even more during towing duty. The asking price for the Barbarian is £29,159 – although as a commercial vehicle for business that drops to £24,299.

This Mitsubishi is a bit of a hoodlum in a Savile Row suit. It’s not fast, there’s body roll and vibrations aplenty from behind the wheel, and it can’t pass muster as particularly hi-tech. Yet the L200 is hardy, dependable and capable, and arguably the most stylish of the pick-up trucks available today.

 
 
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