Mitsubishi L200 pick-up review
The latest Mitsubishi L200 pick-up truck sets new standards in the UK pick-up class
The Mitsubishi L200 has a long and fairly illustrious history on the UK pick-up market spanning over 30 years. The latest version is the fifth generation to carry the L200 badge and is improved across the board compared to the Series 4, which is continuing to be sold by Mitsubishi as a budget alternative.
It was, however, the Series 3 version of the Mitsubishi L200 that really hit the big time, selling over 12,000 units in 2003 during the UK's pick-up truck boom. Back then, the tax regime looked very favourably on the doublecab pick-up, allowing businesses to reclaim the VAT on the purchase price and company car users to pay a flat tax rate, making big savings on benefit in kind company car tax.
Things have tightened up on the tax front now and pick-up sales have dropped accordingly, the Series 4 selling just under 6,500 units in 2014. Despite this, the new L200 still adhere's to the formula laid down in the heady days of its Series 3 predecessor.
What buyers get is a five-seater doublecab pick-up with chunky styling and a generous standard specification that far outstrips most vans. This is a working vehicle primarily but the doublecab form means it can seat five and offers a generous load bay behind that can be shielded from the elements by various optional load covers. It means that, In theory, the L200 can also serve as transport for an active family.
Trim levels range from 4Life, through Titan to Warrior and Barbarian. All models get air-conditioning, Bi-xenon headlamps, a switchable 4x4 system and a class-leading array of safety kit including 7 airbags, traction control and Trailer Stability Assist. It's only when you get to the Titan models that things really begin to take off; this is a sub £21,000 truck with 17" alloys, privacy glass, DAB radio, lane departure warning and Mitsubishi's Super Select 4WD system.
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There's a choice of 6-speed manual or 5-speed paddle shift auto gearboxes but all new Mitsubishi L200 models get the same 2.4-litre MIVEC diesel engine with 178bhp and an excellent 44.1mpg economy figure . Rather than the gruff, old-school diesels that we're used to find powering pick-ups in this country, the engine is a modern variable vale-timing unit with an aluminium block and many other lightweight components.
In the load area, the L200 will carry 1,050kg and there's extra carrying capacity courtesy of the 3,100kg maximum towing weight. The space itself is 1,470mm square but wheel arch intrusion limits the width at the front of the load bed.
In terms of performance, economy, driving dynamics and carrying capacity, the Mitsubishi L200 sets the standard in the pick-up class and presents a real challenge to rivals like the Volkswagen Amarok, Toyota HiLux and Nissan Navara. It's a great option for businesses or tradespeople needing an off-road working vehicle that can also carry passengers in comfort and with a certain macho style. Anyone seduced by the pick-up's dual role potential, however, should remember that levels of refinement, comfort and quality still fall some way below those offered by large SUVs.
MPG and Running Costs
The Mitsubishi L200 gets an advanced common-rail turbo diesel engine with MIVEC variable valve-timing, an aluminium cylinder block and lots of other weight-saving design features. It's a remarkably high-tech unit to find in a pick-up truck and it delivers some very strong fuel economy figures.
The entry-level 4Life version is the fuel economy star of the range will a 44.1mpg combined economy figure but the higher spec derivatives aren't far behind with 42,8mpg provided to choose the manual gearbox. Go for the 5-speed auto and the combined cycle performance drops off to 39.2mpg but that's still better than rivals can muster, even in their greenest manual guise. The CO2 emissions range from 169g/km in the 4Life to 189g/km in the auto models.
The L200 is built to be tough and, therefore, to minimise repair and maintenance costs. To underline its faith in its product, Mitsubish 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.
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Load Space and Practicality
The overall dimensions of the L200 are a little more compact than many of its key rivals, particularly in terms of width. The truck measures in at 5,285mm long and 1,815mm wide, making it 134mm narrower than a Volkswagen Amarok and 45mm narrower than an Isuzu D-Max. Despite this, it doesn't give anything away in terms of capacity.
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 and 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 and a new tailgate mechanism is designed to prevent the gate falling down when unlocked, a hazard common on other pick-up models. Barbarian derivatives also get soft-opening tailgate that eases itself down rather than clanging open.
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The maximum payload capacity is 1,050kg for the automatics of just 5kg less for the manuals. Most importantly, it's over the magic 1,000kg barrier that qualifies pick-ups for lower commercial vehicle company car tax rates. Owners needing to shift more stuff and attach a braked trailer of up to 3,100kg in weight claims that this lets the L200 achieve a total trailer and payload carrying capacity of 4,090kg, a figure that no rival can match.
Reliability and Safety
The L200 is built to be tough and while that means it doesn't compare particularly well to big passenger carrying SUVs in terms of comfort and sophistication, it should make for a vehicle you can trust. The latest model features a more extensively reinforced chassis with more substantial joints between the frame, load bay and cabin.
The level of safety equipment provided as standard is extremely good for the pick-up class with the L200 offering many advanced active safety features that we're used to seeing on passenger cars but haven't quite made it to the world of the pick-up before. The stability and traction control system can brake individual wheels to correct understeer and oversteer while diverting power to the wheels with most grip. There are seven airbags, an adjustable speed limiter and Trailer Stability Assist is included as standard too, an extension to the stability control system that adjusts its responses if a trailer is attached.
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Then there's Hill Start Assist, hazard lights that flash if you brake hard and standard Bi-Xenon headlamps but the lane departure warning system that beeps if you wander out of your lane without indicating is only on the higher spec models and there's no hill descent control. Nevertheless, It's an impressive haul.
Driving and Performance
The 2.4-litre MIVEC diesel engine makes its debut in the fifth generation L200 and is a much higher-tech unit than we've been used to seeing in pick-up trucks. Common-rail injection, variable valve timing and aluminium construction all help to give this unit an edge on performance and efficiency grounds.
The engine comes in two states of tune with the entry-level 4Life derivatives getting a 151bhp version with 380Nm of torque but all other models getting 178bhp and 430Nm. Performance is brisk in the higher-powered engine with a 0-62mph time of 10.4s while the lower powered option as a 12.2s sprint time that's closer to the average for the class.
The other key difference between the entry-level L200 and the top spec versions is the 4x4 system. Base models get the Easy Select part-time 4x4 set-up that can be engaged manually when requires and features a locking rear differential. Higher spec L200s get the Super Select active 4x4 system from the Shogun SUV. It can be set in rear-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive modes for on road driving with the 4x4 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.
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The L200 has real off-road ability built in but it's the on-road performance that's going to be more relevant to most buyers. Compared to the other options in the pick-up sector, the Mitsubishi is very competent on the tarmac with the latest version putting up a valiant fight against the bouncy ride and sloppy handling that tend to afflict models in this market.
The ride is noticeably more composed than we've been used to in UK market pick-ups and lateral roll in corners is also kept comparatively well in check. The L200 can still be upset buy bumpy surfaces and big craters send shudders through the cabin but on good roads the ride is comfortable enough. Refinement is also strong, the engine rumbles on start-up but this subsides as it warms up. There's still a loud growl under throttle but it suits the L200's character, you wouldn't really want your pick-up truck whispering away like a luxury saloon. At 70mph on the motorway, the engine is sitting at around 1,500rpm and the engine is barely audible, through there is a fair bit of road noise.
The steering has been given a useful bit of weight and it feels more responsive around the straight-ahead than the majority of pick-ups. The gear change on the 6-speed manual version too is more precise than the old L200 and shorter throw too. The 5-speed paddle shift automatic that's also offered works well suits the relaxed driving style that's best adopted in the L200.
Cab and Interior
The cabin of the L200 is spacious and durable. Some of the minor switchgear is dated and the plastics quality wouldn't stack-up well in passenger car company but the materials are adequate for the pick-up market with some nice detailing thrown in. The neat Super Select 4x4 control dial sits behind the gear lever and there's a clear instrument cluster with a clear display showing you which drive mode you're in. A large touchscreen sits in the centre of the dash on higher spec models but it does look a bit too much like an after-market addition.
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Passenger space is fine with plenty of headroom and space for a six-foot adult to sit comfortably behind a similarly sized driver, but the low seating does mean they have to bunch their knees up a bit. Storage space limited to a bin between the front seats, some narrow door pockets and a glovebox that can take the manual but little else. It's not