WITH the rise of ‘lifestyle' buyers, the range of increasingly plush pick-up trucks is becoming larger and larger, so much so that even Mercedes has plans to seize a bit of the action.
Like many, I've become a convert to these upmarket trucks, with their comfy leather-bound heated seats, fine music systems and superb connectivity.
It's almost an understatement to say their engines, economy and ride are vastly improved too.
But let's not beat about the bush. These were intended to be working vehicles and, for a great many buyers, they still are, be it for the farm or the builder's yard. And these pick-ups are the building blocks of the Mitsubishi brand, whose L200 has a long and illustrious history in the UK.
It's history that extends through four generations, and more than 30 years.
Since its UK launch in 2006, the Series 4 has outsold all other pick-ups and the Mitsubishi trophy room shows the L200 Series 4 has won more awards than all of its rivals put together. Immediately following its launch, the Series 5 added more silverware, winning the respected 2015 Light Commercial Vehicle of the Year and Pick-up of the Year titles from WhatVan?, which described it as ‘simply the best vehicle in the segment'.
It's hard to disagree. In an extremely competitive and increasingly overcrowded sector the L200 certainly deserves plaudits for its quality, ride, and efficiency. It's worth remembering it was the L200 Series 3 that was almost entirely responsible for the development of robust and rugged commercial pick-ups combined with SUV like refinement and performance so they also appealed also to families with active lifestyles.
In many key areas, the Series 5 remains best-in-class. It inherits and improves upon the DNA of its predecessors. Although it might look very familiar, it is an entirely new vehicle from the ground up, with, Mitsubishi says, ‘significant improvements' in 330 areas.
Despite its muscular robustness, it's a remarkably easy vehicle to drive. As competent navigating a muddy farm or building site as it is comfortable on a motorway, it can be driven permanently in two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive on tarmac and off-road.
Cabin comfort and ride are extremely good for such a rugged vehicle with class-leading leg room. It's interior width has also increased.
The level of equipment on standard models is also class leading, as are aerodynamics and sound insulation. Trim levels range from 4Life, through Titan to Warrior and top-of the-range Barbarian.
All models get air con, bi-xenon headlamps, the switchable 4x4 system and an array of safety kit including active stability and traction control, Hill Start Assist and Trailer Stability Assist - an extension to the traction control system that adjusts its responses if a trailer is attached.
Ride comfort is elevated to almost SUV levels through the introduction of a fully revised suspension, including six shock-absorbing bodymounts that are more than double the size of those in the previous model.
And even on more workmanlike such as the 4Life, there's a stereo radio/CD player, Bluetooth connectivity, aircon and front electric windows.
The Club Cab version I was driving also has rear-hinged rear doors to enable better access to the two flip-up rear seats - an ideal space for tools or carrying a couple of colleagues to the yard.
On the road, a stiffer body has vastly improved its handling and stability and body roll is dramatically reduced. It also has the largest carrying capacity of any pick-up and full towing capability of 4.1 tonnes.
The basic 151bhp 4Life, which produces a thumping 380Nm of torque, officially returns 40.9mpg and produces just 180g/km of CO2. Over a week - which included the commuting crawl to and from the office - I managed a return of more than 36mpg. The new all-aluminium 2.4-litre engine helps - a saving of 30kg.
It's not the most relevant stat for a pick-up, especially a working one, but the 0-62mph is dispatched in 12.2 seconds and it goes on to a top speed of 105mph.