Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian Double Cab Auto
There's no mistaking the L200
- Distinctive and stylish exterior design
- Well-equipped interior
- Strong diesel engine copes well with large loads
- Impressive tuning circle
- Automatic transmission can be jerky under load
- Large and cumbersome around town
- Clunky disengagement of four-wheel drive system
- Diesel engine noise penetrates cabin
The Mitsubishi L200 is unlike any other pick-up truck on the market with its outlandish styling and aggressive special editions. 2010 has seen the in-your-face outlook remain, but there are revisions outside and in.
The Mitsubishi L200 was the UK's most popular pick-up truck in 2009, suggesting that its mix of style and functionality has yet to wear thin on the country's workforce and outdoor adventurers. Regardless, Mitsubishi has made changes to the range for 2010 with the hope of refreshing the still cutting-edge looks and improving running costs for owners.
The previous top specification Animal model has been replaced with the equally wildly named Barbarian, but the impressive equipment levels remain. Leather seats, air-con, full electric windows and an all-singing, all-dancing sat-nav multimedia centre are complimented by Bluetooth, an iPod connector and reversing camera. Revisions to the front grille, interior dials and additional chrome mark out the Barbarian model.
Equipped only with the more powerful 175bhp 2.5-litre diesel unit (the 165bhp unit is no more although the 134bhp unit remains for some models) the Barbarian model can also be equipped with a new five-speed automatic gearbox. With a higher top gear than the old four-speed unit it contributes to the refinements made to the engine in bringing down fuel consumption and emissions.
Traction control is a new addition and a segment first, while the adjustable transmission offers rear-wheel drive, four-wheel drive, low-ratio four-wheel drive and low-ration four-wheel drive with a locked centre differential. This gives the L200 excellent off-road potential and makes it a versatile workhorse. A range of chassis, cab and load bay configurations also add to the appeal.
Our verdict on the Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian Double Cab Auto
With technical changes bringing added efficiency and refinement and cosmetic changes keeping the distinctive model looking as fresh as ever, the L200 remains the most outwardly desirable pick-up available in the UK. The driving experience remains largely unchanged but it's easy to forget the model is essentially a working vehicle and not an SUV, meaning it gets some leeway in the handling department. Performance is strong and the Barbarian model is generously equipped.
The Barbarian specification L200 is the most expensive and the automatic transmission costs extra, too, but it still offers value for money in terms of versatility and the sheer amount of vehicle you get for the money. Mitsubishi says economy and emissions show a six per cent improvement over the previous model.
Space and practicality
The L200's cabin is spacious and practical with cubby holes and storage aplenty. The real practicality can be found in the load bay, however, which can be plastic or metal lined and have additional strap-eyes or any number of utility options added. The load bay is restricted in size by the double-cab but is still a very healthy size and perfect for trips to the tips or carrying bikes and outdoor equipment or heavy tools and machinery. The four-wheel drive transmission and low ration transfer box makes it a versatile vehicle, with lots of towing and off-road potential.
Controls and display
The main dials have been tweaked and remain clear and informative while switchgear is sturdy and well positioned. Although the steering is a little vague the L200 is easy to control when driven sensibly. The four-wheel drive and locking differential are controlled using a floor mounted lever which requires a firm hand. The system can also be sluggish to disengage, reverting back to two-wheel drive with a clang from the transmission. The auto transmission is a delight to use however, with a big chunky grip and a sequential manual over-ride.
The car-like seats in the L200 allow plenty of adjustment and prove very comfortable while the driving position is good and those in the rear seats benefit from a surprisingly generous amount of legroom. The ride is soft and absorbent, but the basic suspension set-up at the rear can make it a little bouncy. Tuned for more power and torque, the 175bhp 2.5-litre diesel engine can be rough especially when working hard, but is suitably refined on the motorway particularly as the five-speed automatic transmission brings revs down when cruising. Air-con and full electric windows are standard equipment as is cruise control, making the five-seater cabin a comfortable one to travel in.
Owners will need a cover over the load bay if they don't want to be constantly removing belongings from the L200. A number of styles are available from Mitsubishi; the test vehicle was supplied with a roller-style lockable cover for added security. Internal storage is good, while remote central locking, an immobiliser and alarm are present on the Animal variant and the high tech media unit is neatly integrated.
Anti-lock brakes and electronic brake-force distribution are both fitted and there's four-wheel drive to keep you safe in slippery situations. Twin front airbags are standard across the L200 range, while a pair of Isofix mounting points is present in the rear of double cab variants. All five seats get a three-point belt and the Barbarian benefits from traction control - a L200 first in the pick-up market.
Despite its civilised looks the L200 remains a commercial vehicle and so is not the most rewarding to drive. Compared to a passenger car SUV the steering is vague and the ride soft and a little bouncy at times. Regardless, the L200 performs well for a vehicle in its class. Easy to drive both on the motorway and in town despite its size, it is never tiresome, particularly with the well-specced Barbarian interior. There's no shortage of power available from the 175bhp diesel unit and the new five-speed automatic transmission takes some of the work out of driving while allowing more space between the pedals for driving in work boots. It can be jerky when shifting under load, however, and pauses slightly before engaging when trying to exit junctions swiftly.
Family car appeal
The double cab format means the L200 could happily serve dual roles as a work and family vehicle. To offer security in the rear families will want to opt for a hard top addition - one of these removable lockable units quickly turns the pick-up into a large SUV or van arrangement. Designed to take abuse from five work boot wearing adults, it will easily cope with all that a family of three can throw at it. Although not the most refined family vehicle, it's a good trade-off off between a work truck and family car.
First car appeal
Large and with the potential to be cumbersome in the wrong hands, the L200 is not the kind of vehicle that will flatter a novice driver.
Quality and image
With up-market, SUV-like exterior styling the L200 has the most kerb appeal of the models available in the pick-up market. The changes for 2010 are subtle but keep the model looking fresh, and it's still a distinctive sight on the road. A strong image is backed by decent build quality that sees doors slam shut with a satisfying thud. However, pick-up buyers intending to use the model for more rigorous tasks may question the durability of soft leather seats and additional electrics in an interior that may often be left wet and dirty.
Like most high-rise off-roaders, the L200 requires you to climb up and into its cabin. If you're not that agile this could become something of a chore. The same is true of the rear seat in the double cab configuration, only more so as the rear doors don't open as wide. At the back, lowering the L200's tailgate requires a little strength. Clambering in and retrieving stuff will also be a task for the fit and able.
Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)
In range-topping Barbarian model, the L200 boasts a level of entertainment equipment beyond the call of duty. A built-in screen offers a portal to the CD-changer, DVD-playing function, remote control operated sat-nav and radio. Bluetooth is also standard equipment - very useful in a work vehicle. Sound quality is average despite the high level of equipment but the visual and audio systems are simple to use and easy to navigate. An iPod connector in the glovebox is a smart addition and the sat-nav mapping is of excellent quality.
Colours and trim
The current Mitsubishi L200 upped the game for pick-up trucks when it first arrived on the scene and continues to do so with a distinctly un-pick-up-like array of equipment in top Barbarian trim level including embossed leather seats, backlit logos in the door sills and full electric windows in the double-cab model. The steering wheel and gear selector are finished in leather, too. This is in contrast to much of the interior plastic which, although solid and durable, has a less up-market 'wipe-clean' feel to it. The exterior looks sharper still on the revised model, with new lights and grille design and extra chrome on the Barbarian model.
Thanks to huge mirrors, a tinted rear screen that can be lowered like the side windows, light power steering and a standard reversing camera, manoeuvring the large vehicle is less stressful than it at first appears. An excellent turning circle is also very helpful.
Full size steel spare wheel mounted under load bay.
Diesel engine options - 2.5-litre (134bhp); 2.5-litre (175bhp). Transmission options: five-speed manual gearbox with low ratio transfer box and selectable four-wheel drive, five-speed automatic gearbox with low ratio transfer box and selectable four-wheel drive. Trim levels: 4Work, 4life, Warrior, Walkinshaw, Trojan, Barbarian (single cab, club cab, double cab, long bed variants available).
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