“It’s a pick-up Jim, but not as we know it.”
Pick-up’s have come a long way in the last five years. As with vans, pick-ups are now car-like inside & car-like to drive, whilst still offering the rugged off-road capability required by farmers, road construction & the building trade. New model launches in 2015 from Nissan, with the Navara & Mitsubishi with the L200, were followed in 2016, by the all-new Fullback from Fiat, plus updated Ford Ranger, Volkswagen Amarok & Toyota Hilux models. Not to be outdone, Isuzu then launched their upgraded D-Max in April 2017, all taking advantage of a market that is worth almost 50,000 units per annum in the UK.
On the back of it winning the Auto Express pick-up of the year award for 2017, CC&V spent a week in the latest Mitsubishi L200 which was delivered to us in Barbarian guise.
The L200 has a long history in the UK pick-up market spanning over 30 years, peaking with 12,000 sales in 2003. The latest version is the fifth generation to carry the L200 badge & is without a doubt, massively improved compared to the Series 4, which is continuing to be sold by Mitsubishi as a budget alternative. The Series 4 lagged some way behind the more life style models offered by Ford with the Ranger Wildtrack & Volkswagen with the Amarok. But, the Series 5 is a much better proposition, coming as it does with a great new interior with on trend technology & Mitsubishi’s famously reasonable prices.
Customers can choose the five-seater doublecab pick-up in trim levels ranging from 4Life, through Titan to Warrior & Barbarian . Spec is impressive with all models getting air-con, Bi-xenon headlamps, a switchable 4×4 system, 7 airbags, traction control, Trailer Stability Assist. Titan models start at around £21,000 & come with 17″ alloys, privacy glass, DAB radio, lane departure warning & Mitsubishi’s Super Select 4WD system, making it great value for money. Barbarian models add SatNv, rear view camera, door mirrors with indicators, premium leather includes armrest, door trim, dash ,Illuminated door entry guards, LED mood lighting, puddle lamp, sports mesh grille, rear chrome tail light surround, soft opening tailgate damper, tailgate handle cover, door handle recess cover & a rear bumper step.
All new Mitsubishi L200 models get one 2.4-litre MIVEC diesel engine offering 178bhp & a very respectable 44.1mpg on the combined economy figure with the 4Life version, 42.8mpg with the manual gearbox. across the rest of the range, with even the 5-speed auto offering 39.2mpg. The CO2 emissions range from 169g/km in the 4Life to 189g/km in the auto models.
The 4Life engine get’s 151bhp with 380Nm of torque, with all other models getting 178bhp & 430Nm. The Barbarian is quick reaching 62 mph from a standing start in just 10.4 seconds, although the kick down is a bit slow to get going.
The other key difference between the entry-level L200 and the top spec versions is the 4×4 system. Base models get the Easy Select part-time 4×4 set-up that can be engaged manually when requires and features a locking rear differential. Higher spec L200s get the Super Select active 4×4 system from the Shogun SUV. It can be set in rear-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive modes for on road driving with the 4×4 mode automatically sending power to the wheels with most grip. It maintains a rear-biased 60:40 torque split under normal driving to help reduce understeer on the road. There are then two further off-road modes with the centre differential locked and either high or low range gearing for the really rough stuff.
I got to drive the Barbarian which meant an auto box & all the goodies on tap. The first thing you notice is that this version is a real stunner, retaining the Series 4’s good looks. Inside the L200, the cabin is spacious, although the glove-box, door pockets & oddment spaces aren’t great, comfortable & feels durable. The switchgear looks a little bland & is not comparable in quality to those found in SUV’s like Mitsy’s own Outlander, but for a pick-up it’s pretty damn good. The Barbarian is fitted with a Super Select 4×4 control dial, which is located behind the gear lever . The steering wheel controls adjust the DAB radio on the left & engage cruise control on the right & there’s even flappy paddle if you want to use them. The instrument cluster is clear & concise with a display showing you which drive mode you’re in. There’s a simple to use touchscreen sitting in the middle of the dash, which has a quite good SatNav system attached to it. The real star in this though is Mitsy’s hands-free phone system which was easy to connect my i-Phone & when I used the voice activation worked perfectly every time, which has never happened to me before on any other similar system.
The double cab is roomy with space in the rear for five adults who can all get comfortable with both excellent leg & head room on offer. The drivers seat was electronically adjustable & therefore easy to tailor to the individuals needs. The leather seats were also reassuringly heated for this cold Winter mornings.
At the end of the day, most pick-ups will be used to carry & the L200’s load space is also impressive. In the load area, the L200 will carry 1,050kg & there’s extra carrying capacity courtesy of the 3,100kg maximum towing weight. The load space itself is 1,470mm square but there iOS a little wheel arch intrusion at the front of the load bed.The open load bay on the back of the L200 is 1,470mm square with a depth of 475mm, which is 15mm deeper than the 4 Series model. There are six load lashing points with grooves cut into the load bed so it can be divided up to separate cargo. A step is cut into the rear bumper on higher spec models & there’s even a new tailgate mechanism designed to prevent it falling down when unlocked. My Barbarian had a soft-opening tailgate that eases itself down rather than clanging open, a real pain in many rivals.
The Series 5 is 5,285mm long by 1,815mm wide, making it feel compact. It’s actually 134mm narrower than a Volkswagen Amarok & 45mm narrower than an Isuzu D-Max, both of which I have to say feel larger but more cumbersome to drive.
Mitsubishi also offers a 5-year/62,000-mile warranty with 12 years of anti-corrosion cover. Service intervals are set at 12,500 miles or 12 months, whichever comes soonest. Safety is also paramount with the Series 5. The stability & traction control system can brake individual wheels to correct understeer or oversteer while diverting power to the wheels with most grip. There are seven airbags, an adjustable speed limiter with Cruise control & even Trailer Stability Assist is included as standard too.The range is also offered with Hill Start Assist, hazard lights that flash if you brake hard & standard Bi-Xenon headlamps with the Barbarian offered with a lane departure warning system that beeps if you wander out of your lane without indicating. I of course, turned this off.
I drove the Barbarian to York & back & found that it performed superbly on the motorway being both quiet & comfortable. There was enough power to overtake when required plus the addition of cruise control allowed me to stick to a steady 70 mph all the way there & back, conserving fuel along the way. The DAB radio is clear & loud & the SatNav proved useful as well offering me alternatives when the road ahead was congested.
A year ago I would not have said what I’m about to say about the L200 Series 4, which has just been blown away by the new Series 5. It was well worthy of our Commercial of the Year title for 2015, although with every other pick-up now updated or improved, it isn’t going to get any easier to choose the right one for you. The L200 is definitely in the mix, because it offers an awful lot of what both lifestyle & working customers want, at a price that will make both happy.
The best L2oo yet 4/5
4Life Double Cab £19,749
Titan Double Cab £20,749
Warrior Double Cab £23,049
Barbarian Double Cab £23,799 ( £25,199 auto model )
12-year anti-corrosion perforation warranty, three-year pan-European breakdown cover, home & accident.