The Mitsubishi L200 pickup has been around since 1978 over the years sales have been rather good but as in any business, the sales life cycle is a merry-go ride. Nevertheless, the L200 sold around 6,500 units in the UK making it the most popular pickup vehicle of 2014. And that makes it a target for rivals from VW and Ford who gunning for L200 sales territory. So in response to these existential threats, Mitsubishi has decided its time to give the old battle axe a bit of a makeover and evolutionary improvements all round.
The L200 double cab pickup is designed for those who want to play after work or work and play. With six trim levels to choose from and prices starting from £20k for the entry-level Series 5 Double Cab 4Life and ranging upto £35k for the all singing all dancing Walkinshaw Auto edition. The L200 comes with a generous amount of standard kit such as a switchable 4×4 system, traction control, Trailer Stability Assist and bi-xenon headlights.
Travel further up the trim levels and of course, you pay more and therefore you get more kit. The Double Cab Warrior on test costs £23k and was pretty much fully loaded. Leather seats – MMCS Premium Nav/DAB Audio System – the additional feature of a Reversing camera, is very useful – Three driving nodes – Daytime Running Lights – Xenon Super wide range HID headlamps, Privacy Glass, Headlamp Washers – Rear Bumper Step.
Oddly there were no parking sensors, the L200 is a big vehicle and without a rear parking camera setup it can be burdensome to reverse park at first, parking sensors should be fitted as standard. So what have Mitsubishi done to improve the L200 Series 5? Externally the front-end has received a styling maker-over, new headlight and bumper designs in addition to a nip and tuck at the rear.
The engine has been redeveloped and Mitsubishi say the L200 is the first pick-up in the world to feature an all-aluminum powerplant, which is about 30kg lighter than the unit it replaces. For the UK market only one engine is available throughout the range, a 2.5-litre, 178bhp, 480 Nm torque, 4-cylinder turbo diesel.
On startup its immediately noticeable the new powerplant is much better than the engine found in the Series 4, its quieter at idle. On the move engine noise is also better suppressed almost in-audible something the previous generation engine struggled to do. In other words, the Series 5 engine sounds less like a tractor. However, wind and tyre noise at around 70mph does get a bit in your face.
Mitsubishi have also improved the front suspension which has been borrowed from the Shogun in order to enhance the ride and handling. And its worked… albeit to some degree. The L200 push-me-pull-you suspension setup its both modern and old. Double wishbones at the front and leaf springs at the rear.
Leaf springs were used in the day’s when the horse and cart method of propulsion was popular and modern-day pickup’s love rear leaf spring suspensions because they are ideal for coping with heavy loads. But this setup always compromises handling and ride. However, its fair to say Mitsubishi has improved the L200’s handling for example when you turn into a corner you no longer have to make a guess of where and when to turn, driving is more of an accomplishment.
But it can still feel a bit loose at the back if you go just beyond where the L200 feels most comfortable. But take it steady through the corners and the L200 is OK, the ride is a little bit shoddy over rough surfaces which is odd because the L200 in Warrior spec is packed with proper 4-wheel drive ability including low range settings. Ideally, it should be able to traverse bumps and ridges with a bit more subtlety.
What the L200 is really all about is the load and towing abilities, with a maximum payload of 1,056kg the L200 can still tow an additional trailer of up to 3,100kg which is like one of those world strongest man competitors towing a Jumbo jet… with his teeth.
On the inside, the L200 in Warrior trim is well equipped and as part of those upgrades, it now features trendy materials like piano-black plastics or shiny black plastics to you and I. It goes a little way to lift what is a functional looking interior which primarily consists of tough, let’s say hard-wearing plastics. But its well screwed together and in many ways the relative solidity of the interior construction negate’s the lack of premium sensibilities found within.
Nevertheless its roomy and spacious upfront and reasonably good for rear passengers and the front seats are now particularly good on comfort levels almost snuggling around you which makes long journeys back-ache free. And those long journeys will see a return of 44mpg on a combined cycle via a long ratio six-speed manual gearbox which is what it is… a six-speed manual gearbox.
In car features also include a new integrated touchscreen with a new in-house design user experience and it is far better than the use of aftermarket touch screens Mitsubishi used to go for, but still a little bit clunky on the usability side.
The L200 on test also came fitted with a rear cover which was a dog to close as it used an antiquated handle that never shut properly unless you used foul language and a bit of brute force and then some more foul language.
Overall the L200 Series 5 is very much improved over the Series 4, the new and revised engine is the biggest improvement because it feels more refined, offers better driveability, more power, is much more efficient and therefore running costs are lowered. If that’s important to you.
The L200 drives better too but its never going to be a sports car it’s simply more confident but still a little bit on the shy side. And its all wrapped up with a five year warranty, it doesn’t have the most premium of interiors but you know what if you want a big, imposing looking high-riding vehicle at about the same cost of an adequately priced Mini Countryman then the L200 looks like a bargain because you get so much more at about the same cost.