Mitsubishi's L200 pick-up has evolved in its latest 'Series 5' guise. The experts at Car & Driving check it out....
Ten Second Review
Mitsubishi has sold over 4.1 million L200 pick-up models since production started. Now, they claim to have brought us the most advanced version of this model yet. This 'Series 5' version offers a ground-up redesign.
If you're buying a pick-up in the UK, then it's highly likely that you'll be looking at Mitsubishi's L200. This model has, after all, historically out-sold all its rivals. Its market leadership has much to do with the fact that this Japanese brand got its act together faster than other contenders in this sector, being the first back in the Nineties to recognise that pick-up ownership could be extended beyond farmers and jobbing builders into the SUV lifestyle segment. As a result, the original L200 model was allowed to take almost half the British market in this sector before its rivals caught up. These days, this vehicle is far more sophisticated - as it has to be in order to hold its own against a raft of tough rivals. This completely redesigned 'Series 5' version features a new chassis and engine package that make this much more accomplished vehicle. Torsional rigidity is improved, power and torque are up and more effort has been put into its on-road manners as well as its off-road ones. The thinking's gone further too. Indeed, the Japanese maker claims to have made over 330 changes to his vehicle, drawing on over four decades of experience in this segment.
There's only so much you can do to make a pick-up enjoyable to drive but Mitsubishi has made more effort in this regard this time round, conscious that any L200 is likely to spend the majority of its time on tarmac. This Series 5 version's redesigned chassis is complemented by re-developed suspension, plus there are new shock absorbing body mounts, which absorb vibrations better than before and provide a quieter, more comfortable cabin. Thanks to the stiffer chassis (shared with Fiat), handling is improved and body roll, something of a problem in vehicles with higher centres of gravity, should be kept to a minimum. The suspension improvements, which include a larger stabiliser bar, stiffer front springs and re-tuned damping, should allow the L200 to handle and ride with more comfort and agility. The new engine should impress too. Not only is it 30kg lighter than the old 2.5-litre unit (aiding handling and efficiency), it's also more powerful and cleaner too. With 178bhp and 430Nm of torque on-tap, the 2.4-litre MIVEC turbodiesel unit provides this improved L200 with best in class performance, the 0-62mph time reduced by two seconds to 10.4s. As before, the L200 can be driven in either 2WD or 4WD on tarmac or off road. This vehicle can also tow up to 4.1 tonnes. And there's a segment-leadingly tight turning circle too.
Design and Build
The exterior design of this 'Series 5' L200 model hasn't changed hugely. More striking and vibrant exterior lines project a more commanding road presence and typical owners will like the muscular, planted stance. Mitsubishi says that this vehicle's 'athleticism' is expressed through sharp, muscular surfaces and a taut 'belt line'. It's certainly true that some style has been added to areas like the lights and the door handles to accentuate the sleeker body and prevent it from looking too workmanlike. The interior too, looks more classy and car-like - and it's usefully more spacious too. Take a seat at the wheel and around you, you'll find a driver-centric dashboard that centres attention on the road and includes much of the kind of important equipment you'd expect to see in a premium car. Most UK buyers will continue to want the Doublecab bodystyle with its rear seat. Here, as before, it's nothing like as comfortable as it is in the front, but thanks to the chassis and suspension changes too, it'll be far more comfortable to ride in this part of the car over bumpy roads.
Market and Model
L200 pricing sits in the £20,000 to £24,000 bracket, which as expected, makes it competitive in its segment. There are four different specifications; the entry-level 4Life version, the Titan, the Warrior and the top-spec Barbarian model. Transmission-wise, there's a choice of either a six-speed manual or a 5-speed automatic with sport mode. If you go for the entry-level 4Life variant, bear in mind that you'll get an engine with a bit less power and torque, though it does offer an extra few mpg as consolation. Onto equipment. Many models come with features like dual-zone climate control and a satellite navigation system. As for safety, all variants get Mitsubishi's 'RISE' ('Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution') system, plus an on-board Active Stability & Traction Control set-up and seven airbags,
Practicalities and Costs
Mitsubishi have utilised high-tensile steel extensively in the design of this L200's cargo bed and this allows it to have the largest carrying capacity in the segment without an increase in overall size and weight. The new, lighter engine was the first with an all-aluminium design and features lighter weight and a low compression ratio for greater efficiency. As a result, Mitsubishi claims the L200 uses between 11 and 47% less fuel than some of its competitors suggesting that the combined cycle economy figure will be somewhere between 39mpg and 44mpg, depending on the variant you choose. The brand reckons this means that your L200 will be able to travel up to 685 miles on a single tank, which gives it the longest range in its class.
The 'Series 5' model changes have improved this vehicle in all key areas; performance, economy, emissions and carrying capacity. Of all the updates though, it's the improvements to driving dynamics that we reckon most potential owners will notice most. This vehicle was always good off road. On-tarmac though, like many pick-ups, it wasn't that easy to live with. This latest generation version is far better in this regard, offering less bodyroll, a more comfortable ride and better refinement. As a result, it's easier to envisage as an only car if you need a tough working vehicle for the week that can also transport the family around at weekends. True, an L200 isn't as affordable as it used to be - but many will feel that the Series 5 improvements make that a price worth paying. It's still the go-to choice if you're looking for a tough, well specified go-anywhere pick-up.