Sixth-gen L200 warrants gamechanger status for Mitsubishi’s pickup legend

Tough, unrelenting and largely unbreakable, reports Iain Robertson, are all descriptive terms that can be applied to Mitsubishi’s outstanding L200 truck, as he tackles rally stage, road sections and load configurations to test its mettle to the max.

Possessing a remarkable 40 years of heritage, most of which have been spent on, or close to, the top of the heap, when compared with the rest of the pickup truck contenders, any replacement is sure to garner close attention. However, Mitsubishi is not stupid; while in a better financial state today than it has been for a few years, allied to a perception of ‘if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it’, what you see in this latest iteration is, in truth, little more than a judicious reskin, within much of which remains an upgraded but unaltered cabin.

Introducing the ‘Dynamic Shield’ front-end, which has already been extolled by various other models in the company’s line-up, the new truck certainly possesses a more aggressive and beefier appearance. Positioning the LED headlamps (standard on Warrior and above trims) higher up has a significant benefit, when wading, or avoiding parking damage. The higher bonnet line actually helps a lot, when tackling an off-road ground, as it is easier to discern the vehicle’s corners, thus aiding manoeuvrability.

Now, more than ever, the L200’s close relationship with the Shogun Sport, which shares its chassis, is obvious. Perhaps more importantly to the ‘company car set’, the four-door version now features a 1.08-tonne load deck carrying capacity, which means that it can be treated as ‘plant’ and neither taxed, nor accounted for, as a car. Its 3.5-tonne towing capability is as before.

As to its more chiselled looks, it seems that the market wants more of the sharp edges and less of the rounded, softer appearance of the previous generation L200. When you look at either the latest Ford Ranger, or Toyota Hilux, the message becomes abundantly clear. Of course, chunkier styling also demands chunkier engineering but the engine loses 100cc (now, 2.3-litre capacity) and develops marginally less torque and 150bhp. Yet, a slick new 6-speed automatic transmission ensures disarmingly smooth progress and owners may notice the additional fuel flap, which is designated for topping-up the AdBlue tank, to ensure a lower CO2 rating. Combined with ‘stop:start’ technology, the auto-box can return 29.1mpg, while the 6-speed manual is good for 32.1mpg (WLTP figures).

Significant improvements have been wrought on the truck’s brakes (bigger, progressive and more powerful) and its suspension, which features larger diameter rear dampers that improve the ride quality and remove a lot of the choppiness of the previous version. The upgrades have allowed Mitsubishi to enhance levels of connectivity and also the raft of driver aids that now includes forward collision mitigation, autonomous braking, blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert. Top-spec Barbarian benefits from a 360-degree camera system. 

Driven with gusto on a closed rally stage, the L200 felt more like a World Rally Car than a utilitarian vehicle but its on-road performance is equally impressive. A tight turning circle and great driving dynamics will lead assuredly to top-dog status for the new L200.

MSG Summary

It helps that the L200 already possesses an indefatigable image. In its latest form, Mitsubishi has honed every aspect to perfection, to make it THE pickup truck in which it is worth making the investment. Prices (pre-discount) start at £21,515, rising to £32,200 for the all-singing-and-dancing Barbarian model.

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