Fashionable pick-up

from Mitsubishi

Mitsubishi L200, front action
Mitsubishi L200, side action
Mitsubishi L200, rear action
Mitsubishi L200, dashboard
Mitsubishi L200, dash detail
Mitsubishi L200, wheel

SO who wants to own a pick-up truck?

Well, apart from Bob the Builder and Farmer Sam - pretty obvious candidates, I would have thought - there is a list of life-styles that the all-wheel-drive, load hungry workhorse satisfies, according to Mitsubishi.

The drift towards flat-bed utes started with the fashion for SUVs, which is now at near avalanche proportions.

The latest model to combine car-like driving quality with mud-lugging tenacity and estate car-plus cargo capacity is Mitsubishi's sixth generation L200.

Available only as a four-door double cab it is likely to be the firm's best seller over the next 12-months, clocking up around 10,000 orders in UK, and outselling the Outlander.

It's an important model for Mitsubishi and Britons just love it. In fact we swallow up around 45 per cent of all European L200s.

Key to the new version is its car-like ambience and driving feel. While the cabin doesn't quite make it into Range Rover or Audi levels of fashion and style, it is a far flung improvement on the pick-ups of old.

Much better looking than previous models, the new L200 adopts the marque's established ‘dynamic shield' nose with clamshell bonnet raised 40mm so it can be better positioned when traversing rough tracks or even on the road.

The wheel arches are squared off and the LED headlights are set slightly higher. The overall impression is of a more co-ordinated design with plenty of road presence.

Power now comes from a new 2,268cc, 148bhp, four cylinder turbo diesel which is both smoother and more frugal than the previous larger engine. With 295lb at 2,000rpm there's enough torque to haul 3.5 ton loads, which is the real essence of a big pick-up.

Normal road performance without towing is pretty impressive too with a top speed of 108mph and acceleration to 62mph in an acceptable 14 seconds. Combined economy is 29.1mpg but most owners are expected to be able extract up to 35mpg, say Mitsubishi. Emissions are 231g/km.

Two gearbox options are offered - a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic, which is likely to be preferable for those life-style buyers who put refinement as a priority.

Ride standard, often choppy in unladen pick-ups, is a vast improvement, further adding to the vehicles everyday appeal and refinement.

The star of the line-up is the Barbarian X with flagship spec and a price tag of £32,200. It is expected to take up to 40 per cent of sales and reflects the fact that many pick-ups are being bought for lifestyle reasons rather than business.

Certainly the interior is a big step-up from previous versions. Front seats have extra bolstering to offer more support, the fascia has been dressed up to be less utilitarian and more SUV-like, and the steering wheel is chunkier. Electric seat controls and heated seats are also fitted to the top version.

Extra sound-proofing and the new engine have gone a long way to boost refinement, making the L200 an easy and relaxing form of transport over long distances as well as an efficient off-road tool.

It conquered a challenging cross-country course which took in deep flowing streams, severe rocks and slippery slopes during the test which brought into play the vehicle's four-mode electronically controlled four-wheel-drive system.

Four cameras set in the front, rear and door mirrors monitor the area around the pick-up to generate a bird-eye view of obstacles to aid negotiating rough terrain, while a dashboard display shows what's in front or directly behind.

It's worth remembering that the L200 is just below the 2500kg weight limit for commercials which triggers a lower 60mph speed limit on dual carriageways. A big advantage for many potential buyers who would prefer not to incur speeding penalties.

Prices range from £21,525 to £32,200.

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